How To Replace a Skirting Board – Skirting is vulnerable to damage from clumsy feet and cleaning machines; but replacement is easy.
Skirting boards do not often need replacing ; if they do, it usually means there are other problems that must be investigated and put right. Central heating, for example, can cause skirting boards to split. If the split is not large, you can fill it with a cellulose filler and then repaint; but splits tend to open up again and it is best to replace the board.
You will have to replace boards if they are affected by wood rot. This may be due to a faulty damp course, which itself must be put right before replacing the skirting. Alternatively rot may be caused by heavy condensation, with water running down the walls and onto the boards. This can be solved by installing a proper ventilation system.
Apart from these problems, skirting boards may need replacing because of wear and tear from furniture, vacuum cleaners and clumsy feet.
What to buy
Measure the total length of the old skirting board to find out how much to buy. Allow about 2m (or 6ft) extra on measurements in case of mistakes when cutting the wood to size and sawing the mitre joints.
You can either buy a standard size board or cut the profile you want from a plank. It is best to buy skirting of at least the same height as the old one to avoid having to fill and paint the part of the wall where the original skirting was fixed which would be left exposed by the smaller boards.
Laminated skirting boards are useful where they are likely to suffer extreme wear and tear, such as in a children’s playroom. They are also useful if you have a fitted carpet which would make painting wood boards difficult.
Removing old boards
Hammer a broad-bladed chisel or bolster behind the board and lever off; use a bit of scrap wood behind the chisel to protect the wall (see 1a). Insert the chisel at intervals along the length of the board since you will not be able to remove the whole piece in one go. If you do not have a bolster chisel, an old wood chisel and a claw hammer will do the job just as well: but again use scrap wood to protect the wall (see 1b).
Start off with the board adjacent to the door frame as the. end nearest the door is not mitred (see 2a). You could start off with an external mitre if there is one present (see 2b). If a board has an internal mitre at both ends it will prove difficult to remove in one piece. Wedge the centre of the board away from the wall and cut through it with a pad saw. The two halves can then be pulled out (see 2c).
Fixing new boards
Smooth all surfaces, except the back face, with medium fine, then fine, glass-paper. If nailing to fixing blocks, place the skirting against the wall and mark on the front face with a pencil where the nails must go to enter the blocks centrally. If the blocks were damaged when removing the old boards you will either have to make new ones or fix the skirting with dowel rod. To make new blocks, cut pieces of scrap wood to size. The blocks should be a little smaller than the gaps in the brickwork.
Make some wedges out of scrap wood, place them in the hole with the block and tap them home with a mallet (or hammer and block of wood) to ensure the block is firmly in place. Cut off surplus wood from the wedges with a chisel to make them flush with the fixing block (see 4).
Fixing blocks are not found in all houses, dowels providing an alternative. Using a wood drill, make holes of at least 9mm (3/8in) diameter through the board at about 1m (or 3ft) intervals then hold the new length of skirting board against the wall and drill holes of the same diameter and at least 38mm (1½ in) through these into the wall with a masonry drill. Hammer in lengths of dowel rod, slightly larger in diameter than the holes, snap off the surplus and smooth over with a fine flat file or block plane and fine glass-paper until flush with the surface of the board (see 5). Drive a 25mm (1 in) long cut nail or floor brad into the centre of each dowel, punching the head slightly below the surface of the wood (see 6). The nail causes the dowel to expand ensuring the board is fixed tightly in position.
Facing with laminate
Cut and shape the boards from chipboard and lip the top edge with hardwood or laminate to match or contrast with the front face (see 7). The top edge of the board should be lipped before fixing to the wall. Paint all the back surfaces and sawn edges with a sealer and fix to the wall as before. Cut the laminate for the front of the board about 3mm (1/8 in) wider than the required dimensions and stick it on with impact adhesive to conceal the fixings. With a cabinet scraper trim back the top edge of the facing laminate to give a neat, flush join. To save money you can use laminate offcuts. With woodgrains, if you have the grain running vertically you can use short lengths and still have invisible joins (see 8).
Finishing the boards
The advantage of laminated skirting is that no further finishing has to be done. For wood boards, fill all nail holes and cracks with cellulose filler, leave to dry and rub all surfaces smooth with fine glasspaper. Then apply primer, undercoat and top coat, allowing each to dry properly before applying the next coat. You should use gloss paint for a more durable finish.
Skirting boards will have to be repositioned if you are putting up plasterboard or panel boards for insulation over existing walls. if fixing plasterboard direct to the existing wall, you must remove the skirting and put it back in position once the plasterboard is fixed. If you are applying panel boards fixed to battens, you can leave the existing skirting, using it as a bottom batten behind the boards, and fix new skirting. Or you can remove the skirting, fix a bottom batten behind the boards and reposition the skirting when the panels are in place.
Originally posted 2015-08-01 08:26:40.