How to Choose the Right Skirting Boards for Your Home

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A white desk with filing cabinet on top in front of a purple wall. The skirting board has a neon yellow stripw at the top. Image c/o Little Greene

Image c/o Little Greene

One of the main lessons that I have learnt since I started writing this blog is the much-overlooked importance of all the finer details that really make a room. Things like light switches, handles, and skirting boards aren’t really that sexy but these details are what will take a room from looking good enough to finished and flawless.

In today’s post, we shall be looking at how to choose the right skirting boards for your home. To start with though, let’s take a step back and take a deeper look at this humble decorative moulding.

Images c/o Little Greene

Why do you need skirting boards?

There is no mystery here. They are used to protect the bottom of the walls from the wear and tear created by everyday life. Without them, the walls would have to deal with regular knocks and scrapes from hoovering and mopping, furniture, children’s toys, shoes and boots, pets and bags. Anything that could knock against the wall basically.

They also cover the joins between the walls and the floors. There is often a gap left between the floor and the plasterboard which can look unsightly and untidy. The skirting boards help to create a much neater look and help the room to look finished.

Images c/o Little Greene

What materials are skirting boards made from?

Generally speaking, you have two options.

Pine skirting boards

Pine is a common material that is used for skirting boards. It is a natural wood and because of this you can clearly see the grain running through the wood. As a natural material, it can be prone to imperfections which can cause a lot of wastage or leave you with holes in the boards where knots may have been.

The manufacturing costs of pine boards are higher compared to the alternatives, meaning that the final product can be more costly. Pine is also less water-resistant than other materials which should be taken into consideration when choosing your skirting boards.

MDF skirting boards

MDF stands for medium-density fibreboard. It is a manmade material that is formed from various softwood fibres and recycled fibres all compressed to form a new wooden material. Unlike pine, there are no knots or imperfections in the material and it is cheaper which helps to keep costs down.

MDF boards also require less preparation than pine as they simply need sanding, priming and painting. They can also be created in a larger variety of sizes compared to pine skirting boards.

Images c/o Little Greene

How tall should skirting boards be?

This is perhaps where people start to get a little overwhelmed as the options are plentiful. Most homes in the UK have skirting boards that are around five inches (120mm) high. This is the standard size that most housebuilders today will install in new builds. However, they can come as high as 15 inches (400mm). That’s a huge difference in height.

Obviously, you can choose whatever size you want when it comes to your own home, there are no hard and fast rules. But there are a few things to bear in mind that will help you to decide.

Anything below six inches (145mm) is considered to be a low profile skirting board. Boards that are between seven (170mm) and eight (195mm) inches are the middle ground and anything higher than nine inches (220mm) is considered to be high.

When choosing the height of the skirting boards for your home, it pays to think about the age of your home. Period properties tend to have higher ceilings which mean that they can more easily accommodate high skirting boards. Modern houses with lower ceilings may feel even smaller if the skirting boards are too high.

A selection of skirting board profiles from Skirting World

Various options from Skirting World

Which profile skirting board should you choose?

Once you have decided on the height of your boards, your next big decision is what profile to choose and there are a lot of options to choose from. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference, but it can help you to narrow down your options by looking at the period and character of your home.

Plain skirting boards are simple and more minimalistic and don’t draw as much attention. They are also easier to maintain and clean. They typically work well in modern homes.

Decorative skirting boards make more of a statement. They tend to work well in traditional homes that already have plenty of decorative features such as picture rails, dado rails and ceiling roses. Bear in mind that intricate detailing is a great dust-trap so if you don’t like to spend your time cleaning, maybe the decorative option isn’t for you.

Plain (left) and decorative (right) from Skirting World

So which type is best?

There is no right or wrong answer here and it is entirely down to your personal preference and what you think would best suit your home. If in doubt, consult the experts before you buy and they should be able to help you narrow down your options at least.

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