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How to fit skirting boards

Posted by Skirting World on 17th May 2018

How to fit skirting boards

A Guide To Fitting Skirting Boards

So you've just got your hands on some nice new skirting boards. Now it's time to install them. Here are some of our tips on how to fit skirting boards.

Skirting is used to cover the joint where the wall and floor meet each other. Its main purpose is to protect the bottom of the wall it's fitted to and it also serves to hide the gaps that are necessary to cope with the contraction and expansion that happens in all homes.

Unless you're building the house from scratch, you'll most likely already have skirtings fitted. However, they are straightforward to replace should you be looking to update and refresh your home. We also find that a lot of people need to match skirting board designs when they've removed a fireplace or built an extension - we can cater for this too!

Tip: If you're going for a minimalist approach to your interior design, you'll want a design that isn't too busy. But if you're looking to go all out, something with more detail will really help make a mark on your room - and we've got a lot for you to choose from!

Before you start

Before you get going, here's a list of everything you need in order to replace the skirting boards:

MaterialsTools
New skirting boardMitre box or mitre saw
Strong adhesiveCoping saw
Decorator's caulk
Hammer
Wood filler
Pencil
ScrewsTape measure
NailsSilicone gun
Bolster chisel
Crowbar

Getting started

We always recommend using MDF (all of ours is now moisture resistant HDF) as it's easy to fit, won't warp, doesn't have any knots or imperfections and has a really high finish quality. However, if you are going to be using softwood (ours is 5th grade redwood pine) you will need to coat the back of the boards with wood preservative.

Depending on the way your wall is constructed and the previous fixings that were used, different fixings will be better than others for the new installation. If you have masonry walls, you'll be able to use screws or nails with good results. If you have stud walls, oval wire nails will yield the best results when fixed directly into the studs for grounds.

You will be able to reuse the same fixing points if your previous skirting was installed to them. Just make sure you mark their position on your new skirting boards and use lost-head nails to fix onto them.

If you don't want to do any filling and your walls are nice and straight, it will be easy enough to use strong adhesive to adhere the skirting to the walls. If you have damp-proofed walls, you will need to use adhesive so that you don't go through the damp-proofing when using screws and nails.

Remove your old skirting

You will more than likely need to prise your old skirting off the walls. This can be a tricky process but we have some advice to make it as easy and trouble free as possible.

To prevent damage to the plaster, use a small piece of wood behind any of the tools you use so that they don't directly come into contact with the wall.

Using a hammer, knock the bolster chisel down between the skirting board and the wall. Then gently lever the top edge away from the wall just enough to fit the blade of the crowbar between. Using this method should make sure the least amount of damage is caused and the job is completed quickly and easily.

Fitting the new skirting boards

Now the old skirting is off, you're ready to fit your new ones!

Step 1

It will help to start with the longest wall that has internal corners. You will need to measure this wall and then mark the measurement on the top of a length of skirting so that you know where you need to cut it.

Now you will need to use you mitre box or mitre saw. We recommend to cut the left hand of the skirting board first and using a vice or workbench to secure the mitre tool. Put the left hand side of the length into the mitre tool (if needed, use a trestle to rest the other side of the skirting on) and make sure it is level with the base of the mitre tool to ensure an accurate cut.

Make sure to protect the face of the skirting by putting a piece of wood between the face and the mitre tool. Then proceed to tighten the screws to hold the skirting firmly in place. Now you can use your saw to cut the left hand corner mitre.

Once complete, repeat this process to cut the right hand mitre!

Step 2 (nails & screws)

If you're going to be using masonry nails to fix the new skirting board, try to fit them to existing points where possible (as discussed above). If you're not using the existing points, fix the boards roughly every 600mm. Make sure to make the fixing at the highest plaint part of the skirting (normally around 10mm below the design part). Ensure that there are no pipes or cables behind the fixing before proceeding.

It is best to use lost-head nails when fixing the skirting if you have timber grounds.

If you're going to be screwing your new board to the wall, drill a pilot hole and insert appropriate wall plugs before putting the screws in.

If you have stud walls, you'll need to use a stud detector to find the studs and then use oval wire nails to fix the skirtings to the studs.

Step 3 (using adhesive)

If you're planning on using adhesive to secure the skirting to the walls, make sure you use a strong adhesive.

When applying the adhesive to the back of the skirting, ensure it is an even coverage (a zigzag style line is normally the way it is applied). Once the adhesive is on, press the skirting into place. You will need to make sure that the piece is held in place (use whatever possible - weighty items are the best) until the adhesive has completely set.

Cutting skirting profiles

It's isn't absolutely necessary to mitre the skirtings when fitting them - you can instead use a process called profile cutting.

Profile cutting

In order to cut the shape out of your skirting board, you will need a profile gauge. If you don't have this, see step 3.

Step 1

To fit your skirtings using this method, you will need to fit the first board right into the corner. The second board will then need to be cut at the end using profile cutting in order to fit over the first piece of skirting.

Make sure the end of the first board butts up to the wall when you fit it. To copy the shape of the skirting, hold your profile gauge against the fitted piece of skirting.

Step 2

Now you need to use the profile gauge to mark out where you need to cut the second piece of skirting so that it fits over the first piece. Hold the profile gauge against the correct side of the second length of skirting and draw around the profile gauge using a pencil.

Step 3 (without profile gauge)

If you don't have a profile gauge, you can draw the profile a different way. You will need an offcut of the skirting to hold against the piece you need to cut. All you need to do is hold the offcut at 90 degrees to the piece your cutting and trace around it!

Step 4

Now you've marked out the profile, use the coping saw to carefully cut along the marking. The more precise you can be, the better the finish will look once the piece is fitted.

Step 5

Push the second piece of skirting into place to check the fit. If needed, this is the time to make small adjustments to ensure it's a perfect fit!

More fitting advice

How to fit skirting boards with Demsun adhesive

We sell a product called Demsun that is a fantastic adhesive. When our customers ask us what they should use to fit their new skirting boards, we recommend this product because we know it does what it says on the tin. Fitting skirting boards with Demsun couldn't be easier - put some on the back of the board and stick it to the wall. That's the short version, but it is still very simple to use and super effective in the long run.

We recommend making sure that the back of the skirting board is as clean as possible and dust free. This applies to the wall on which the skirting board is going to be fitted. Once this is done, put a line of Demsun on the back of the skirting board - starting from one end and finishing at the other.

Next, align the skirting board with the wall you are fitting it to and firmly push it against the wall. Hold it in place firmly for around a minute. Finally, we recommend using two small pins in either end of the skirting board to secure it to the wall whilst the Demsun dries. This is optional, but will make sure the skirting board sits in place while the Demsun gets to work.

How to fit skirting boards with plugs and screws

Using this method is reliable and can be quicker than waiting around for adhesives to dry. The downfall is that you will be left with visible holes that will have to be filled in.

First of all, simply use a pilot drill to create holes in skirting boards for the screws. You may want to do this whilst the skirting boards are positioned where you want them to be so that you can drill into the wall for the plug to be inserted. You can also countersink the holes in the skirting boards using a larger drill - this will hide the screws away and make it easier to fill them in.

Once the holes are done (and the plugs are in the wall) you simply put the skirting board into position and secure them to the wall using screws. The final step would be filling in the screw holes to give the skirting boards a smooth and even look.