best paint for skirting boards

Best Paint for Skirting Boards in 2021 (UK Buying Guide and Reviews)

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Skirting boards are a highly underrated aspect of any home, modern or traditional. The iconic TV series ‘The Thick of It’ once acknowledged this by comparing a character to skirting boards – “I assume we need them, but I’m not sure why”. Yet as the bridge between your walls and floor, skirting boards do a vital job in protecting, insulating and covering joins around your home.

If you want to give your boards the VIP treatment, we reckon the best paint for skirting boards comes courtesy of Dulux. We crowned (no pun intended) their Quick Dry Satinwood paint the winner in our in-depth tests. Read on to find out what we looked for and why Dulux came out on top.

In a Hurry? Here’s our Best Paint for Skirting Boards in 2021:

Sale
Dulux Quick Dry Satinwood Paint For Wood And Metal - Pure Brilliant White 2. 5 Litres
  • For interior wood and metal
  • Capacity: 12m²/L per coat. This 2.5L can will cover 30m² with one coat (approx)
  • Quick drying
  • No undercoat required
  • Drying Time: Leave 6 hours to dry. Newly painted doors and windows should not be closed until paint is fully dry.

Nights in White Satin

Two of our shortlisted contenders come in satin finishes, while the third is matt. And while that might seem unfair on Ronseal’s matt white product, it’s essential to consider the relative merits of different woodwork finishes.

For many years, gloss was the default option for skirting boards, giving a freshly-finished sheen. However, decorators have begun switching to satin finishes in recent years because they yellow less and stay shinier for longer, especially when exposed to heat (such as steam from showers) or direct sunlight.

A contrary school of thought favours matt paint, which has no sheen and is therefore not going to fade or discolour in the same way. 

Your choice between these different options is entirely personal, and it’s worth noting Dulux also offer matt finishes, while Johnstone’s promote a one-coat matt white paint (though it’s in a different range to our shortlisted product).


A Brush with Greatness

Painting skirting boards is a different art form from painting walls, affecting everything from your choice of paint to your choice of brush. Regarding the latter, our guide to the best paint brushes is essential reading, with 5cm brushes ideal for covering a decent area while retaining a degree of accuracy.

In terms of paint choice, the gold standard is a product that balances thinness for light application (thick paints are challenging to apply evenly) without dripping or running onto carpets or flooring. 

All three of our shortlisted paints are water-based instead of oil-based formulations, which combine hard-finish resin with solvent thinner that evaporates on application.

Only Ronseal specifically market their product as non-drip, which might provide reassurance if you’re attempting the delicate balancing act of painting skirting boards without lifting and replacing the surrounding flooring. 

Painting skirting boards is one of the more fiddly decorating jobs you’re likely to undertake, as we profile in our guide to painting skirting boards with carpet in situ


The Best Paint for Skirting Boards – 2021 UK Shortlist

These are our top picks as the best paint for skirting boards. Each paint on this list offers comparable value and ought to deliver consistently impressive results…

1. Dulux Quick Dry Satinwood Paint

Sale
Dulux Quick Dry Satinwood Paint For Wood And Metal - Pure Brilliant White 2. 5 Litres
  • For interior wood and metal
  • Capacity: 12m²/L per coat. This 2.5L can will cover 30m² with one coat (approx)
  • Quick drying
  • No undercoat required
  • Drying Time: Leave 6 hours to dry. Newly painted doors and windows should not be closed until paint is fully dry.

If you’ve read our recent gloss paint feature, you’ll know that we’re big fans of Dulux’s Quick Dry range. Its victory in this test was more close-run, but it still emerged as our preferred product for the same reasons its gloss-finish cousin came out on top.

First and foremost, it offers unparalleled choice in terms of finishes, shades and sizes. You can choose from an astonishing 33 different variations on white (though some admittedly stray quite far from the Pure Brilliant White tested here) and in sizes from 30ml tester pots to five-litre tubs. 

You can select from seven finishes, including eggshell, flat and matte, though satinwood remains our choice for the reasons outlined in previous sections. Indeed, one of the few issues you’re likely to encounter with this range is finding the exact combination you want in-store. However, online retailers tend to offer a comprehensive selection.

It’s also worth noting that Dulux’s satinwood paint has a drying time of around six hours, which is considerably more than the other products we’ve tested. If you’re racing against time to complete a property refurb, this could be a deal-breaker. If not, this highly-regarded range should be ideal for any wooden surface and many metal finishes.

ProsCons
Extensive selection of colours and finishesCIT/MIT ingredients may cause allergic reactions
Tester pots availableIt takes a long time to dry
Satinwood finish is lasting and dependable 

2. Johnstone’s 303929 – Quick Dry Satin

Johnstone's 303929 - Quick Dry Satin - Mid Sheen Finish - Water Based - Low Odour - Touch Dry in 1-2 hours - Brilliant White - 1.25 L
  • Johnstone’s Quick Dry Satin provides a contemporary, mid sheen finish for interior wood and metal including skirting boards, doors, radiators and staircases. The water based, low odour formulation is self-undercoating, non-yellowing and quick drying
  • Non-yellowing
  • Water based formulation
  • Dry time: 1-2 hours
  • Coverage (Per litre): 12 m²

You’d expect a company with over 130 years of paint manufacturing experience to produce high-quality products, and we’re happy with Johnstone’s Quick Dry Satin paint. 

This paint has much in common with Dulux’s contender – a brilliant white satin finish, an array of colours and suitability for wood and metal finishes. It also matches its rival’s coverage of 12 square metres per litre, while the 1.25-litre tin we’re testing here can be doubled in size or reduced to 0.75 litres if required.

Described as self-undercoating, Johnstone’s have produced a paint that is touch-dry in less than two hours. That’s hugely appealing when you consider Dulux will make you wait for up to six hours before you can do this. By the time you’ve finished a room and had a cup of tea, you’d be able to start going around again.

In the final reckoning, there are slim margins between this and our test-winning product. Ultimately, Johnstone’s are only offering nine colours, with none of the shades-of-white Dulux manufactures. 

You can’t buy tester pots or value-oriented five-litre tubs, either. However, we’d expect any interior refresh carried out in this highly-regarded product to look good for some time without the yellowing you’d experience from gloss.

ProsCons
Delivers consistent results without runningAnother product containing CIT/MIT
A variety of colours and sizes are availableLimited tin sizes
Ready to recoat in a couple of hours 

3. Ronseal RSLSWUTMP25L

Sale
Ronseal RSLSWUTMP25L Stays ULT/Tough Matt Paint, White, 2.5 l (Pack of 1)
  • The easiest way to paint bare or worn interior wood
  • Primes and paints with just one tin and only requires 2 coats, even on bare wood
  • Can use it on skirting, doors and windows
  • Guaranteed to stay white for 10 years

Ronseal’s range of skirting board paint is surprisingly limited. You won’t find an extensive array of shades here, and there’s no choice in terms of volume. You’ll be getting a 2.5-litre tin of white paint, and that’s pretty much the end of it, though it’s also available with gloss and satin finishes.

Freed from the tyranny of choice, there’s a lot to like about this product, which comes with the impressive promise of staying white for ten years. We couldn’t verify this guarantee, but the lack of sheen in the matt finish should reduce fading and discolouration. 

As with the Dulux paint, Ronseal promotes it as low odour, yet it doesn’t carry the same CIT/MIT warnings as its rivals. Significantly, its composition means it’s resistant to chemicals and abrasion, which would be great on surfaces that lead a hard life (such as skirting boards in a playroom or nursery).

Ronseal’s paint does appear to be thinner than the others we tested, despite mirroring their water-based formulation. Some recent reviews have suggested multiple coats are required to achieve a good finish, so coverage may vary depending on what you’re painting and its pre-painting condition.

ProsCons
Guaranteed to stay white for ten yearsOnly available in one size
Low odourConcerns over thinness
Less risk of allergies from the composition 

Final Thoughts

While Ronseal’s product is good in isolation, it falls short in an objective analysis. The lack of colour choice is disappointing, while the absence of different paint sizes might not suit people doing smaller jobs or whole-house refurbs. There are concerns about it being the thinnest of these three water-based paints, and it’s no cheaper than its rivals.

The battle between Dulux and Johnstone’s is much closer, and you could argue a convincing case for either. Both have comparable coverage, similarly thick composition and brilliant white satin finishes, which should discolour far less than gloss. 

Ultimately, we came down in favour of Dulux simply because of the sheer variety of options. You can have any one of 33 shades, seven different finishes and seven tin/tub/pot sizes, which means there’ll be a solution for even the most discerning DIYer. And if you’re simply looking for the best paint for skirting boards in plain old white, it’s hard to argue with the quality of finish you’ll get with this product.


Best Paint For Skirting Boards – 2021 Comparison Table

ModelSizesColoursCoverageDry timePriceRating
Dulux Quick Dry Satinwood30ml – 5l3312m2/l6 hours££8
Johnstone’s 303929 – Quick Dry Satin0.75 – 2.5l912m2/l2 hours££8
Ronseal RSLSWUTMP25L Matt750ml – 2.5l1N/A1 hour££6