We take them for granted, bumping them with the vacuum cleaner, scrawling all over them when we’re little and occasionally noticing the dust when we’re grown-ups, but skirting boards are always there for us.
But what do they do for us, exactly, though? We expect them to be there so it never actually occurs to us to wonder what their function is. Well, they serve three main functions.Photo by Helga Weber
Firstly, they can be decorative – in older houses in particular they can be higher than the usual six or seven inches and sport elaborate designs and mouldings.
Then there’s the second function of protecting the wall from all the foot-level damage that can occur during daily life – there’s feet, vacuum cleaners, mops, banging doors, dogs, kids – and a piece of wood is much easier to repair or replace than a wall.
Then the third function is to cover up uneven junctions between walls and floors; this can also help to keep out draughts and just add a neat touch to a room.
OK, that’s great, but do I still need one?
If you’re renovating an older house, or waiting for your newbuild to be finished, then you’ll have some say over whether you have a skirting board and what it’ll look like. Thankfully there’s no shortage of skirtings from skirtingsrus.co.uk, so you can choose from lots of styles and looks.
So, if you’re doing up an older house, or maybe just one room, you’ve most likely already got skirting boards in situ and if you’re laying down a whole new floor, those older boards will have to come off if you want to make a decent job of it.
A lot of people are worried about removing old skirting boards because this tends to take a lot of old wall and plaster with it. This means that many homes get new floors but are left with those old boards that don’t move with the times.
You could go down the beading route
If you decide to keep your old boards, then you need to lay the flooring as near to the board as possible, then use beading to make a neat and tight join. However, you need to leave a slight gap between the flooring and the edging to let the walls and floors contract and expand with changes in temperature.
If you do want to change your skirting boards…
If you’re putting the finishing touches on a newbuild, or you’re completely gutting a doer-upper from top to bottom, then you’ll be able to choose a skirting board that complements the style and colour scheme you’re aiming for.
What you need to do is to fit your floor first so it’s flush with the walls and there’s no hidden gaps. You do need to leave an expansion gap all the way round, though, as with the beading solution, so that the natural expansion of your walls and floor doesn’t cause cracking and splitting over the years.