Painting skirting boards to match your home décor gives any room a new look, but how do you do it without ruining your carpet?
In this guide, we’ll show you how to paint skirting boards with carpet and avoid much of the mess that inevitably comes with painting.
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How Difficult Is It to Repair and Paint Skirting Board?
Some people suggest it’s easier to replace skirting boards rather than repair and repaint them.
In many cases, I disagree with this, as you may have original skirting boards (these tend to be taller than modern-day skirting) that add charm to any room and should be considered a desirable feature.
Painting skirting boards is not a particularly difficult job, but some find it an arduous task because you spend a lot of time crouched down in an uncomfortable position.
The more prepared you are, the easier and quicker the job will be.
I tend to get a bit overwhelmed when choosing paint, as so many options exist. Should I go with a varnish, gloss, satinwood, or egg-shell finish? What colour should I choose? Decisions, decisions!
Pro Tip: Dulux recommends matching your skirting board to the same colour tones used on the wall.
Regarding finish, I tend to stick with satinwood and white, mainly because I can trust them.
However, egg-shell is an excellent choice for a matt or contemporary look.
For more info, check out our guide to the UK’s best paint for skirting boards.
Tools & Materials
You may not require all these tools and materials depending on what steps you need to take. Please read through the instructions first to check what tools you’ll need.
- Paper or dust sheets
- Masking tape
- Mask, goggles and suitable clothing
- Heat gun
- Wallpaper scraper
- Caulk gun
- 5cm paint brushes
- Sugar soap or washing up liquid
- Knotting solution
- Undercoat paint
- Topcoat paint
- Polyurethane Varnish
- White spirit
How To Prepare Skirting Board with Carpet
1. Prepare Your Work Area
Don’t skip this step, as there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing your freshly painted skirting board sitting on top of a paint-splattered carpet!
Protect furniture and floors with dust sheets and canvas drop cloths, respectively. If you have hard floors, use rosin paper instead of drop cloths.
Use masking tape where the carpet meets the skirting board (see image above).
Pro Tip: Masking tape can deteriorate when left out in the open, so store it in an airtight container. Also, cheap ones can leave a residue behind, so buy quality tape.
Remember to wear suitable clothing, goggles and a dust mask when carrying out this job because it’s messy.
See our post Painting A Room Without Making a Mess, to learn more about preparing a room for painting
2. Test Paint Colour
Test your choice of skirting paint by applying a small amount to the skirting board. Let it dry, and then judge if it’s truly the colour and finish you want.
As you’re stripping the skirting boards in the next step, it makes sense to do this test now.
3. Strip Skirting Boards
You may need to use a heat gun to strip painted skirting boards. If so, use a heat gun with a wallpaper scraper to strip the paint off.
Pro Tip (from personal experience): The end of heat guns are very hot! I was so focused on getting the job done that when the nozzle fell off, I picked it up without thinking and acquired a nasty blister on each fingertip!
IMPORTANT: Do NOT use heat guns on lead-based paint! Lead paint can be found in some old houses, generally on paintwork pre-1960s. You can find out more by reading this government leaflet.
4. Repair Damage
Fill any cracks or holes in the wood with a specialist wood filler. The video below shows you how to do this properly:
Occasionally a crack can form between the wall and the skirting board, but don’t be too concerned. The crack could be due to quick-drying plaster, for example. All you need to do is seal it with caulk. Take your time using a caulk gun, as getting a neat finish can be tricky.
5. Sand Skirting Board
Once you’ve dealt with the imperfections, go over the entire skirting board with fine sandpaper to rough it up, otherwise known as ‘keying’ the surface.
Giving the skirting board a ‘key’ provides a rough surface for the paint to cling to and helps prevent future chipping.
6. Apply Knotting Solution
Use a knotting solution to treat any knots. Follow the instructions on the knotting solution, which explains the number of coats required. You typically need 2–3 coats.
For more information on preparing skirting boards for painting, watch the video below:
How To Paint Skirting Board with Carpet
Follow the steps below to paint your skirting boards like a pro and avoid messing up your carpet!
1. Mask Wall
In addition to protecting the floor with sheets/drop cloths and masking tape, you must also protect the wall above the skirting board. Masking tape is ideal for this job.
2. Clean Skirting Board
To achieve a professional finish, clean the skirting board before painting.
Pro Tip: Use a vacuum with a brush attachment to thoroughly remove dust, then use a damp cloth to rub over it. Vacuum the whole room to reduce the risk of dust ruining your finish.
If you’re painting untreated wood, apply primer to get the best results. Decorating Advice has some great tips for using primer. Apply one coat and allow it to dry.
4. Apply an Undercoat
Now you’re going to apply an undercoat. I like to use a 5cm brush for skirting boards, as it’s big enough to make decent progress but small enough to be accurate. You will need a brush with synthetic bristles if using water-based paint.
It will make life much easier if you dip the brush in the paint so that the paint only goes halfway up the bristles. Apply paint thinly so it doesn’t drip, and follow the wood grain with your brush strokes to achieve a smooth finish.
I like to do the top of the skirting board first, then the bottom, as these are the hardest parts due to the accuracy and neatness required. Next, fill in the middle, which is now easier.
Keep checking for drips while you’re painting, and either brush and blend them in or use a cloth to remove excess paint.
Apply two to three coats depending on the paint’s coverage and the desired colour. Remember that the top/finish coat (gloss, satin or eggshell finish) is used to add texture rather than colour. Your colour is achieved with the undercoat.
If you see imperfections when the layers dry, sand them down and paint again.
5. Apply Topcoat
Once the undercoat is dry, you can apply the topcoat.
Apply the top/finish coat in thin layers and work with the grain using long brush strokes.
Begin with painting at the top of the skirting board (still going along the grain), then work towards the bottom, smoothing out any drips as you work your way down.
I like to give my skirting boards extra protection, as they’re prone to be knocked and damaged (primarily by my son and our dog!). I achieve this by applying a few layers of polyurethane varnish.
1. Remove Masking Tape
Carefully remove all masking tape once the paint is 100% dry.
Also, ensure the paint is completely dry on the floor protection (plastic sheets, drop cloths/rosin paper) before rolling it up. You don’t want to get paint on your floor at this point!
2. Clean Brushes
Cleaning your brushes prolongs their life. For step-by-step instructions, check out our guide on how to clean paintbrushes.
Don’t fancy doing this job yourself? Find top-rated painters & decorators in your area by clicking the button below:
If you want your room to have a professional and seamless finish, you must paint your skirting boards. Remember that the key to a long-lasting finish is all in the prep work, so don’t skip or rush this stage!
For more skirting board tips, check out our guide to cutting skirting boards without a mitre saw.