Install decorative skirting boards

As a finish to the base of walls, skirting boards are more than practical, they’re also decorative. In fact, skirting boards, like crown moulding, are one of those small details that can make all the difference to a room. So often they are given very little attention but they are offer architectural detail that defines the character and style of an interior.



Originally designed to fill the gap between wall and floor and protect walls from dirt and damage, skirting boards have evolved to provide a more decorative finish to a home. While older homes may feature skirting boards that are ornate and elaborate in design, modern skirting boards are simple and elegant.

Traditionally manufactured from timber, newer materials allow for easier installation by the do-it-yourselfer. SupaWood or MDF is being used increasingly for moulding and skirting, as is PVC [ Polyvinyl Chloride] but the harmful effects of the latter on the environment may soon see a reduction in the use of this material. The price of skirting board will obviously depend on the material that you choose, but shop around for the best price.


Material, style, price, and ease of installation – these are the 4 factors that you have to consider when buying skirting boards for your home.


In this article we are going to show you how to replace standard skirting boards with skirting boards that provide an attractive finish and architectural detail to a room.


It is important to measure up the room before you start so that you can order enough skirting to finish the project. There is no guarantee that you will find the same stock if you need to run back to collect more pieces.

Starting at one edge on the longest wall, measure the length to be cut and add an extra 30 centimetres onto this measurement to allow for the angled ends. For aesthetic reasons it is preferable to have long, continuous strips of board rather than cut several small pieces with visible joins.


Allow extra length in case you make any boo-boos along the way!

Step 1

Use a hammer and chisel to remove the old skirting. Place the chisel at the back of the skirting and gently tap with a hammer until the chisel fits behind. Repeat this along the length until you are able to pull the existing board away from the wall. Use pliers to remove any nails left behind.


Don’t forget to allow for any obstructions that prevent you from installing skirting boards, such as door frames, pipes, etc.

Step 2

Vacuum or sweep the area so that it is free of dust and debris before installing the new skirting.

Step 3

To join sections together at corners (inside or outside) you need to cut the ends of the board at a 45-degree angle.

A good way to work out what needs to be cut and where, is to draw yourself a diagram showing all the corners that need to be cut, and this will avoid any confusion when cutting the various angles.


While a compound mitre saw is the easiest way to cut angles, you can also use a mitre saw, jigsaw that is fitted with an adjustable plate, or a mitre box and backsaw*. However, if you are fitting skirtings of a height exceeding 8 centimetres, a mitre box will be too small.

A backsaw, or tenon saw, has a reinforced ridge along the top of the blade to prevent bending while you cut.

Step 4

Apply a thick zig-zag bead of adhesive to the back of the board and then hold the board at the bottom edge and angle slightly away from the wall.

Press bottom edge first against the wall and then apply pressure to the entire board. By doing it this way you create suction between the adhesive and wall for better tack between the two surfaces.


If you are using No More Nails, this adhesive does not need nailing to hold it in place until the adhesive cures. You can also use No More Nails as a gap-filler along the top of the skirting, to give a professional finish to a job well done.


Apply three coats of clear or tinted Woodoc 10 to your new skirting boards to provide protection, or if you prefer, paint with water-based acrylic.

You will find a fairly large selection of pine and SupaWood skirtings at your local Builders Warehouse, in varying heights and profiles.

Select one that would look good in your home. If you plan to paint skirtings they will need advance sanding with 180-grit sanding. You will find it easier to sand and paint the boards before installation, adding any touch ups once installed.