There are many different styles of board available, ranging from the simple chamfer-topped variety through to multi-faceted mouldings. Your local timber or builders’ merchant will stock a wide range of skirting, but if you want something a bit different, architectural salvage outlets can be rewarding. Whenever you buy skirting boards, check that it is straight, undamaged and as free of knot holes as possible.
If you are laying a new tiled or wooden floor, do this before you fit the skirting boards for a neater finish. If you’re laying carpet, fit the skirting boards first. Carpet fitters like to have a clean, straight edge to work to and in the future you won’t have to remove the skirting boards if you want to change the carpet.
To give yourself a simple start point, measure up, cut and fit any pieces of board that can go in ‘square-edged’ on both ends (for example, either side of a chimney breast). Mitre saws and mitre boxes can both be used to get a good straight cut.
If you are working out from an internal corner then the next board to go in needs to be ‘scribed’ so it will slot into the board you have just fitted. To do this, first cut a 45 degree angle in the board using a mitre saw or mitre box.
Use a coping saw to cut away the waste section of the mitre and you’ll be left with the profile of the skirting board. If the moulding is fairly intricate it can take a bit of practice to get right so have a go with some off cuts first.
Check the fit of the two boards. If you’re happy with the way they look, you can cut or mitre the other end of the scribed board to length.
NB. Plan the way your boards go in to avoid the need for a board with scribes at both ends. Scribing both ends of a board calls for extremely accurate measuring and cutting. Always leave one end of the board square and scribe the adjacent board into it.
Fix the boards to the walls as you cut them to size, but fit mitred external corners in pairs so you can adjust them to fit together accurately. Instant grab adhesive is a common way of fixing boards, particularly in houses with plasterboard dividing walls. Apply blobs of adhesive or run a couple of beads along the back of the board and press the board firmly to the wall. Remember to wipe off any excess adhesive straight away.
If you want to screw the boards to a plasterboard wall, mark the position of the wooden studs and drill a pilot hole through the skirting board and wall at these points. If you are fixing to a solid wall, run a pilot drill through the skirting board to mark the wall behind every 600mm. Drill and wall plug these holes. Countersink the holes with a larger drill bit so the screw heads disappear when fixed.
NB. Screws should be long enough to go through the board and at least 30mm into the wall or studs behind.