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How to Paint Skirting Boards: A Step by Step Guide

Painting skirting boards may not be the first use of your time that comes to mind but, actually, it's a job that can really enhance the look of your home! If you've already decided this needs done, and are looking for a guide to show you how to paint skirting boards, then you've come to the right place.

Whether you’ve got brand new skirting boards to paint, or you want to give your previously-painted boards a bit of TLC, here are our top tips. Read on!

Before you pick up your paintbrush, there’s one very important thing to do. Pull all your furniture away from the walls so you’ve got plenty of room to work, and cover all furniture with old bedding or dust sheets to keep it free of paint.


How to clean skirting boards before painting

When it comes to painting skirting boards, preparation is key. Using a sugar soap solution and a sponge, give your skirting boards a wipe to get rid of any dust, dirt or grime. If you need to do a more in-depth cleanup, then check out our handy guide to cleaning skirting boards


Sanding the skirting boards

Once your boards are dry, the next step is to sand down the wood surface to make it clean and smooth. You can do so with sandpaper or an electric sander. Always sand with the grain as opposed to against it, as this will create a smoother finish. Sanding will make sure the paint has a strong surface to adhere to. Once you’ve sanded, grab a damp cloth and wipe away any dust. Softly slide your hand along the surface once you are done to confirm the finish is neat. We recommend wearing a mask as things will get dusty! 


Applying knotting solution -Skip if you have MDF skirting boards

You’ll also need to apply knotting solution to your skirting boards before you paint them. Knots are a different colour and texture from the background wood and absorb wood finishes differently. Painting over knots without preparing them first will mean that the knots are visible through the paint, no matter how many coats you apply. Usually, you’ll need two or three coats to completely cover a knot.

Keep in mind that some woods have more knots than others. For example, pine can be especially grainy and has knots-a-plenty. That said, some woods don’t have any knots. MDF skirting boards, for example, are knot-free, so if yours are made from MDF, you can skip this step.


How to protect your floors when painting skirting boards

One thing you might be concerned about when painting your skirting boards is how to do it without getting paint all over your carpet or wood floor. We recommend applying a roll of self-adhesive plastic floor protector as close to the board as possible to protect your flooring.


How to protect your walls when painting your skirting boards

Painting is a messy business, so it’s important to make sure you protect your walls as well as your floors when it comes to painting your skirting boards. To do this, you should place a length of painter’s tape just above the top of your skirting boards to stop any paint from getting on your wall or wallpaper.


Do I need to prime my skirting boards?

If you’ve got new or ready-primed skirting boards, or they’ve already been painted before, you can skip this step. But if your skirting boards are wood-finished or haven’t been painted previously, you’ll need to apply one to two coats of primer to them before painting. Wait until the primer is completely dry before painting.

We can take away all the hassle of the preparation stage as all of our skirting boards come fully finished and are twice-primed!


How to paint skirting boards -Step by step

So far, you've moved all the furniture, sanded the skirting boards, and protected walls and floors. It looks like you you’ve completed the preparation process so now it’s time to paint!

1. Paint the top of the skirting board

Start by painting the top of your skirting board, using a 2” brush. Dip your brush about halfway into the paint and brush it against the inside of the tin to remove any excess paint. Ideally, you want your brush to be fairly loaded with paint, but only on one side. This will ensure the paint doesn’t drip. If it does drip, brush over it quickly so that it doesn’t dry that way. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle on the top of your skirting board and paint from right to left if you’re right-handed, or left to right if you’re left-handed.


2. Move on to the bottom

Repeat the process, and paint the bottom. Remember to be very diligent as you don't want paint-spots on your floor. Even if you've laid a floor cover, chances are that there's still a tiny gap calling for some paint!


3. Paint the middle section

Next, paint the middle of the board using the same process again. If you need to add more coats of paint -most skirting boards require two coats of paint-, ensure they have dried completely before moving on to the next coat. Make sure you’ve covered the whole profile evenly!


4. Finishing touches

When you’ve finished, gently peel the painter’s tape from your wall whilst the paint is still wet. However, when it comes to the floor protection, you must wait for the paint to dry before removing the protector. We recommend waiting for 12 hours or overnight before moving your furniture back into its original position.


Best paint to use on skirting boards

For the decorative coat of paint, you can use any paint designed for wood. These include satin, eggshell and, perhaps most commonly, gloss. These paints will give your skirting boards a professional finish and really add a decorative element to your room. If you are working on MDF mouldings, then first confirm if it's been primed -if it hasn't, then you should either prime it or avoid water-based paint. Once that's out of the way, choose either a water-based -this includes acrylic and latex- or oil-based paint. 


How to repaint skirting boards

If you’re repainting previously glossed or painted skirting boards, you should clean them and prepare the surrounding area as you would with any new boards. As they will already have been painted before, there will be no need however to sand or prime the wood. Simply choose your paint and get started.



If you want to take the hassle out of preparing and painting skirting boards, we’ve got the solution for you. Choose from our vast range of finished skirting boards, from white primed to white fully finished or perhaps our real wood veneer or superior finish KOTA designs.

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