Skirting Board Painting - How to Prepare, Sand and then Paint Your Skirting Boards

Summary: Learn how to correctly paint your skirting boards. See how to prepare them before painting including sanding the skirting. Learn useful tips like using carpet protector to save your carpets and find out what you will need to achieve a good finish on your skirting boards and make your room look fantastic.

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If you’re fitting new skirting, it’s always easier to paint or stain it before fixing it to the wall. However, if you’re repainting skirting that’s already in place you don’t have that luxury. See our tips to make this tricky job a bit easier.

What Will I Need To Paint My Skirting?

Before you can paint your skirting you’ll need to sand it, so some medium to fine grade sandpaper will be required. You’ll need a paintbrush to paint with of course – it’s worth buying a decent brush, nice and soft and no bigger than 2”. Now we come to the paint – what type of paint to use? It depends on the finish you want really. Gloss is traditional, but you could go for satinwood for a more subtle finish.

If the skirting is currently stained or varnished, you’ll need to go over it with a sealer/primer first to stop any stain coming though, then an undercoat to prepare for the topcoat. If the skirting is currently painted you should be able to just paint over it. If it’s painted in a dark colour and you are going over it with a light colour, it might be worth painting with undercoat first to reduce the amount of gloss coats you’ll need.

You will also need newspaper or dust sheets to protect the floor, old clothes or overalls to protect yourself, and some card (quite thin, like a cereal packet) will also be useful. Masking tape is also handy for protecting your carpet. Some DIY shops sell plastic carpet protectors that can take the place of your card – the advantage of these is that you can clean it as you go, rather than replacing the card with a new piece.

Preparation For Painting Skirting Boards

Firstly, you need to prepare your skirting for painting. Start by moving furniture well out of the way, so that you have plenty of space to get in and paint the skirting.

Next, you need to sand the skirting to roughen old paint or stain so that the new paint will adhere to it. This can be a fiddly job, especially if your skirting is quite decorative, but it’s essential that you do it.

Once you’ve sanded all the skirting, vacuum the room to remove the dust, using a thin nozzle to get in close around the skirting and make sure that area is clean. Clean the skirting to remove any remaining fine dust or grease, using a sugar soap solution. Allow the skirting to dry before moving on to the next step.

Clean off your skirting after sanding

Clean off your skirting after sanding

Lay some paper or sheets on the floor to protect against spills. A strip of masking tape along the edge of the carpet, as close to the skirting as possible, will further protect your carpet. Take your piece of card or plastic carpet protector, and tuck it under the skirting so that the carpet is completely covered. Now you’re ready to start painting.

Painting The Skirting

Start by cutting in along the top of the skirting. Go slowly and use a small amount of paint at a time – wipe excess paint off the brush along the edge of the tin. Brush from right to left (reverse if you are left-handed), so that you’re not leaning across awkwardly. When you’ve cut in a section along the top of the skirting, move to the bottom and do the same. Then you can fill in the middle with more confidence.

Move your piece of card or plastic protector along as you go, stopping to clean it or renew it whenever it becomes too covered in paint.

Keep checking for drips as you go along, and use a brush or cloth to wipe them whenever you see them.  Move along the skirting, taking your time and always being careful.

For a professional finish and greater protection, you’ll need to paint at least two coats. Allow the paint to dry (check the tin for drying times), then  use a fine grade sandpaper to go over the skirting before you start on the second coat. Pay special attention to any drips or bumps, being sure to sand them right down - otherwise they will get worse with the second coat. Wipe over the skirting with a damp cloth after sanding to remove the fine dust which will stop the next coat adhering.

Make sure the skirting is dry before you start your next coat. Repeat the process above, taking your time cutting in and always checking for drips.

Once you have finished painting and the skirting is dry, you can take up the masking tape and tidy up.

Some people like to paint a couple of layers of polyurethane varnish over skirting to give it extra protection from bumps, scrapes and scratches. This might be worth considering if you have boisterous children in the house. If you do choose to do this, follow the directions above as for painting, being sure to sand in between coats.

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