Best paint for skirting boards

6 Aug

Best paint for skirting boards

Skirting boards are there to protect your walls and hide the very edge of the carpet or wooden flooring in a room. This makes skirting boards really important. It also means that skirting boards are easily damaged, particularly in high traffic areas. If you’re repainting your home, repainting the skirting boards is a must. Old, flaky paint on skirting boards can really spoil the look of a freshly painted room. However, finding the best paint for skirting boards is really important.

Without high-quality paint, skirting boards won’t be very well protected, and the paint will dull and flake over the following years.

But what is the best paint for skirting boards?

Is there different paint to choose from?

And how do you paint a skirting board anyway?

Well, here is our complete guide to painting skirting boards, along with some of the very best paint for skirting boards on the market right now. First, though, here are the different types of skirting board paint.

Best paint for skirting boards

The types of skirting board paint available

It is important to remember that most skirting boards in the UK are made from wood, either natural wood like pine or oak or manufactured wood like MDF. Any good quality interior wood paint or stain will work on your skirting board. You just need to figure out the style and look you are after for the room and then tie the skirting boards seamlessly into that look. 

Here is a breakdown of types of paint for skirting boards to help you achieve this.

Gloss paint

Gloss and skirting boards go together like a cup of tea and biscuits. It is the most traditional paint to use on a skirting board. This paint is often oil-based, but water-based gloss can also be found. Traditionally, a brilliant white gloss is used on skirting boards. Still, gloss paint is available in a wide variety of colours for those who want to live a bit dangerously. If you are entirely unsure what to paint your skirting boards with, though, sticking to a gloss white will offer a very fresh and clean look, and it is nice and quick too.

Satin paint

Satin paint is an interesting semi-gloss paint, which sits nicely between gloss and matte paints. Many homeowners are now switching to satin paint for their skirting boards for a more subtle, non-glossy look. There are loads of choices for satin paints, which is another reason they are becoming increasingly popular. So you can paint your skirting the same colour as your walls, the radiators or other decorative wooden trim in the home. Once again, satin paint is available in water-based or oil-based options.


Eggshell paints have an ultra-matte finish, which can be great in very bright rooms. Eggshell is becoming very popular in loads of applications around the home, though. This is because the paint is available in a host of colours and looks beautiful if applied correctly. When compared with satin and gloss paints, though, eggshell isn’t as durable, so you will need to reapply this paint faster than the others.

Wood stain/ varnish

Finally, we have wood stain. Granted, this isn’t actually paint, but it is well worth considering if you have a period home and want to maintain the natural wood look of certain features like the skirting boards. You can use a wood varnish to protect the skirting boards, or you can use stain, which can blend newer wood into old existing wood nicely. Wood stains and varnishes are available in satin and gloss finishes.

Water-based or oil paint?

The finish you are after is a really important factor when choosing the best skirting board paint for your needs. However, you also need to decide whether to use water-based or oil-based paint on your skirting boards too.

skirting boards painting

Oil-based paints

Homeowners that like to keep things traditional tend to prefer using oil-based paints. They regard oil paint as more durable. However, these paints do take longer to dry than water-based paints and have a much stronger smell. You will also need to use white spirit or a similar product to clean all of your brushes if you use oil-based paints.

Water-based paints

Water-based paints are quickly becoming a staple paint for skirting boards. These paints are often available in more colours and finishes than oil-based paints. The smell isn’t anywhere near as strong with these paints, and clean-up is easy too. Some also say that water-based gloss paint doesn’t yellow as much as oil-based paints, but advancements in oil-based paint formulas mean this isn’t as true nowadays as it once was.

The choice between oil-based and water-based is entirely up to you. There are benefits to both types of paints. The best paint for skirting boards greatly depends on the style you are after. If you are going for a traditional brilliant white glossy look, oil-based will work wonders. If you want a slightly more edgy, modern look for your skirting, give water-based a try.

Before paint comes, preparation

Just before we get to the best paint for skirting boards in the UK right now, we need to talk about preparation. For this step, good sandpaper is vital as it makes your work easier and results in a smoother surface.

If the surface you’re about to paint doesn’t look very good to begin with, even the most expensive paint in the world won’t change that.

So, spend some time sanding your skirting and filling in any holes and nicks. It will make a massive difference when the paint is applied. We will provide more preparation tips in our FAQs sections below, but sanding and filling are vital steps that must not be skipped.

skirting boards preparetion before painting

The best paint for skirting boards

Rust-Oleum Universal Wood and Metal Oil-based Paint

This Rust-Oleum Universal paint is very impressive. It is an oil-based gloss paint for wood and metal that can be used on any indoor or outdoor surface. It’s also a paint and primer all in one, which saves loads of time. Even on brand new, unfinished skirting, you can achieve a fantastic finish with this paint in one or two coats.

You aren’t likely to get much rust on your wooden skirting, but this paint will protect the metal from rust when used on metal. It can also be used on tiles, radiators, plastic and a host of other materials. So, for all of the little painting jobs around the home (and in the garden), this paint is a must-have. This oil-based paint is also available in loads of wonderful colours, and there are satin and gloss options too.

Johnstone’s Satin Wood and Metal Paint

For those after the water-based equivalent to the paint above, this Johnstone’s paint is the one to choose. Johnstone’s is one of the best UK paint brands. It dries nice and quickly (each coat takes two hours to dry), and it will leave a fantastic finish in just a few coats. Of course, as this is a water-based satin paint for wood and metal, clean up is really easy. There is hardly any odour either, so it’s great for painting in small areas.

The reason this paint made our list, though, is because of the amazing array of colours you can choose from. Of course, you have the standard brilliant white in satin, but there are also more edgy colours. Seashell is a rather popular colour. Urban Sky (a darkish grey) can provide an exciting contrast in the right room. This skirting board is very impressive, and for the price, it is practically unbeatable. This paint is also sprayable; if you have a paint sprayer, you can paint your skirting much quicker.

Dulux Once Satinwood Paint

Dulux Once is a one-coat water-based paint that has been designed to be non-yellowing. It is also a wipeable paint too, perfect for busy areas in the home or homes with young kids that can’t seem to keep their crayons away from the skirting.

Many homeowners have praised this paint for the excellent coverage possible with just one coat of paint. And because this Dulux paint is water-based, the clean up after this one coat is a breeze too.

The only real downside to this paint (besides being a few pounds extra than some water-based skirting paints) is that it takes 16 hours to dry. However, as this paint works so well in just one coat, many people opt for this paint because, after those 16 hours of drying time, you are free to enjoy your newly decorated home.

Dulux Once also comes in loads of different shades of white. You can really hone this paint to your décor and create the perfect space in your home. 

Ronseal One Coat Water-Based Gloss Paint

The best paint for skirting boards doesn’t need to cost the earth. This Ronseal pure brilliant white gloss paint for wood is one of the most affordable and enjoyable paints to use on this list. It is a water-based gloss with impressive coverage. It is also quick-drying and has barely any odour. 

This one coat of paint is also available in satin and gloss. Still, we opted for the gloss for this list because of the fantastic coverage. The satin option is just as impressive, though. In fact, the satin version of this paint has an almost matte finish, but it lacks the price tag of more expensive eggshell paints.

Ronseal makes extremely good paints that really don’t cost the earth. This paint, for example, has a 10-year whiteness guarantee and a 2.5 litre can cover 6m2. Plus, this paint dries in one to two hours, and it has a non-drip formula, perfect for painting skirting over carpets. Of course, you can also use this paint to paint all of the woodwork in your home and get fantastic results quickly and easily.

Everbuild Satin Wood Finish

While this is strictly not painting, we wanted to include an amazing wood stain that is perfect for use on skirting or wooden door sill in period homes. Everbuild makes some incredible satin varnishes that stain the wood and protect it at the same time. We have chosen the Antique Pine stain here, but there is a whole host of stains to choose from, including Clear, Dark Oak, Teak, Natural Oak and plenty more.

If you have a period home, using a wood stain is a really good option and a great way of keeping the traditional style of your home. This stain dries in just 30 minutes, and you can apply another coat in four hours. It is also crack and peel resistant, so perfect in heavy traffic areas, and it offers up to five years of protection for all the woodwork in your home.

Whether you want a stain that will match the existing woodwork in your home, or you’d like to age the woodwork to create even more contrast with the walls, you can achieve this with this incredible stain and varnish.


How to paint skirting boards with carpet?

Many painters will pull the carpet up to paint skirting boards, which is a great option if you can, but many carpets are firmly secured in place. If your is, the best solution for painting skirting boards with a carpet in place is to use masking tape and dust sheets.

You can push the masking tape underneath the skirting board slightly to keep the dust sheet in place as you work. You will need to be careful, though. Masking tape doesn’t bond to carpet too well so, you can easily pull it away from the wall. Still, don’t be tempted to use stronger tape, as this could damage your carpet.

Paint walls or skirting boards first?

Do you want to be sloppy and fast or careful and a bit slower? If you want to get the job done, paint your walls first and don’t worry about masking off the skirting boards. You can then paint your skirting boards and cover up any spills. 

If you want to be a bit more careful, paint your skirting boards first, give them plenty of time to dry and then mask them off and paint your walls. 

Either way is fine. Most DIYers and pros can debate this topic for hours and not come to the best conclusion. It simply depends on how you like to paint. The first (sloppier) way does use a bit more paint but does take a bit less time. But both methods get the job done nicely.

How to paint skirting boards with a wooden floor?

Painting skirting boards with wooden flooring in place is nice and simple. There is usually a gap between the bottom of the skirting and the flooring that you can carefully tuck some masking tape into to secure dust sheets.

If there is no gap between your floorboards and the skirting, you can carefully run masking along the floor right up against the skirting but not covering it. You can then secure dust sheets over the top of this tape, and this will protect your floor while you paint your skirting boards.

How to paint new skirting boards?

New skirting boards do require a primer coat before painting. If you have natural wood skirting boards, you will also need to use a knotting solution to get the best results. You can use a primer and paint in one, but for best results, it is best to use a dedicated primer and then your chosen skirting board paint.

How to remove gloss paint from skirting boards?

If you want to remove gloss paint from skirting boards to take them back to natural wood, you will need to use a paint stripper to remove each layer of paint. This could take some time if there are many layers of paint. You will then need to sand. Again, this can take a lot of time if you are doing it by hand.

If you want to remove gloss paint and then paint over it, you don’t need to be as thorough. Firstly, give your skirting boards a good clean with some sugar soap. Next, you need to sand the skirting boards. You don’t need to remove the gloss paint; you just need to rough up the surface to allow the new paint to stick. This method works extremely well if you’re painting your skirting boards with satin or matte paint.

How to paint skirting boards without getting paint on the wall?

Let me introduce you to the best friend of the painter and decorator, masking paper! While masking tape is used in every aspect of painting and decorating and is a must-have for all painting tasks, masking paper always saves the day at some point.

You can buy masking paper that already has masking tape on one edge. You can use this to cover the wall above the skirting board and use small pieces of masking tape to fix it to the wall. Take your time with masking tasks. The more time you put into masking, the better the finish will be.


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