How to fit skirting boards

Looking for expert advice on how to fit skirting boards?Whether you’re putting the finishing touches to an extension or updating an existing room, use this step-by-step guide to find out how (it's easier than you might imagine)

how to fit skirting boards: skirting board painted in Farrow and Ball School House White
(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

Wondering how to fit skirting boards? Our guide is here to talk you through the process in 10 simple steps, whether you're renovating one room or the whole house.

Skirting is there to cover the joint between the wall and the floor. It also makes a decorative border while hiding the gaps that are needed to cope with the natural expansion and contraction that takes place in a house. It also suffers a lot of hard wear. But luckily, it isn't too complicated to replace yourself, just follow this step-by-step guide... 

For more decorating advice check out our hub page. 

Everything you'll need to fit skirting boards

How to fit skirting boards

1. Measure up

Use a tape measure to work out the length of skirting board you need and then add 20 per cent on to the total as a contingency.

2. Mark the skirting

Mark clearly on each piece of skirting board which side you want facing into the room and which way up you want it to avoid any mistakes.

3. Start with straight cuts

Start with any boards that can go in with square-edged cuts at either end, for example, either side of a chimney breast. Measure and then use a mitre saw or mitre box to give a good, straight cut.

4. Attach first skirting board

Instant-grab adhesive is the most popular way of fixing boards, particularly in houses with plasterboard walls. Apply blobs and press the board onto the wall so the adhesive makes good contact, then wipe off any excess. If you want to screw the boards to a plasterboard wall, mark the position of the wooden studs and then put a pilot drill through the skirting board and the wall at these points.

If you are fixing to a solid wall, run a pilot drill through the skirting board to mark the wall every 6cm. Drill and raw plug these holes. Countersink the holes with a larger drill bit so the screw heads will disappear when fixed. Screws should be long enough to go through the board and at least 3cm into the wall or studs behind. Use wood filler to cover the holes before painting.

how to fit skirting boards: instant grab adhesive on some skirting board

5. Scribing the skirting boards

The next board you fit needs to be ‘scribed’ so it slots into the first board you have attached to the wall. To do this, first cut a 45-degree angle in the end of the new piece of board using a mitre saw or mitre box. Then, use a coping saw to cut away the waste section. You’ll be left with the profile of the skirting board that will slot onto the section that is already attached to the wall. Practise with an off-cut first. 

how to fit skirting boards: cutting skirting board with a coping saw

6. Check and fit

Check the board you’ve just cut fits cleanly with the one you’ve already attached to the wall. If you’re happy, cut or mitre the other end of the board and then attach to the wall. Plan the way your boards go in so that you’re always fitting a square end to a scribed end, never scribe both ends.

how to fit skirting boards: scribed corner of skirting board

7. External corners

Where the boards meet on an external corner, mitre both pieces at a 45-degree angle to create a neat join. Measure both boards to the corner and then mark this length on the back. Place the first board on the mitre, line the saw, set at 45 degrees, up with the mark you made, and cut.

how to fit skirting boards: external corner of skirting board

8. Cutting external angle

Make sure you cut the second board so that the 45-degree angle is in the opposite direction so that they meet. Create the opposite cut by moving a mitre saw to the other side of its axis.

9. Adjustments

Always fit mitred external corners in pairs so you can adjust them to fit together accurately, rather than attaching one and then trying to cut another to fit.

10. Fill gaps

Once complete, fill any gaps between the wall and the top of the skirting board with decorator’s caulk and then run a damp finger along the join for a neat finish. Allow to dry before painting.

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Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.