Choosing the Right Material for Your Skirting Board

When you’re redecorating or renovating your house, it’s easy to overlook the skirting boards, but it’s worth a little bit of extra effort to add that stylish finishing touch that can bring together your colour scheme or overall theme.

Of course, skirting boards are more than just an aesthetic consideration – if you’ve chosen a wooden floor you’ll need one to hide the (unsightly but vital) expansion gap that you’ll have between the floor and the wall. It’s also handy for protecting the wall from the inevitable scuffs as you walk and vacuum around it, as well as covering up dodgy plaster finishes (which can happen to the best of us).

Skirting Board

Styles, materials and profiles

To get back to aesthetics, choosing the right material and profile for you skirting board can make a statement. For most people, when they replace the skirting board, they do just that – they just swap it out for exactly the same moulding or profile. However, there are so many beautiful skirtings that look fantastic and fit in with an updated décor that it’s a shame to miss this opportunity.

Of course, sometimes you need to stay authentic, especially if it’s a period renovation. If you’re worried about not being able to find the exact same profile, take a section of the old board to a joinery as they should be able to produce faithful copies for you. Alternatively, there are lots of specialist online stores that will carry reproductions of particular historic styles.

MDF skirting

MDF is especially popular with people looking for a modern style and it’s also very resistant to warping. It can come pre-finished or pre-primed, ready for you to paint it, and it’s also cheap, with many lengths starting as cheaply as £5.00 or so.

Softwood skirting boards

Softwood is more prone to movement and warping than MDF, but it can be sanded, painted, stained or varnished to give a natural finish. The fact it can be sanded means it won’t need to be replaced as often. Softwood skirting also comes in more profiles than MDF, and is easier for joiners to work on if they need to copy an unusual or historical style.

Pine skirting should cost around the same as MDF, but will offer a larger range of sizes, heights and profiles.

Hardwood skirting

Hardwood is, as you can imagine, more expensive than MDF or softwood, but it provides an authentic, high-end look in older buildings, especially if the floors or staircases are oak or similar. It’s very often pre-oiled or pre-stained and it’s much more resilient than softwood.

Using skirting to hide electrical cables

We have way more wires and cables than we ever did and so one really useful application of skirting boards is concealment. The boards have channels, or rebates, cut out on the back side, allowing homeowners to run cables along the walls but out of sight. Very often these boards are clip-on, so the wires are easily accessible, so no more trailing wires following you around the place.


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