Skirting boards

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Skirting boards are generally the widest and longest moldings around the house. They’re fixed, of course, along the bottom of walls, where they prevent damage to wall coverings and make a neat join with the floor.

Sometimes plain square-edged timber – say 150x25mm (6xl in) planed – forms a skirting, but molded pieces arc more usual. Nowadays ‘torus’, ‘ovolo’, ‘ogee’ and the plain chamfered and rounded types are by far the commonest. Plastic skirting boards are another modern development.

A gap between the skirting and the floor surface can easily be hidden with a quadrant molding – nailed to the skirting. not the floor, so any shrinkage or swelling in the floor won’t open up cracks visible from above.

If a skirting board has simply come loose, use a torch to look behind it for any wooden battens or plugs into which the original fixings may go. Then nail through into these. If the plaster continues to the floor, nail through it into the masonry behind. But if there’s bare brickwork without such battens or plugs – or if your nailing loosens previously sound fixings – you’ll have to use countersunk screws and wallplugs, inserted into holes made with a masonry drill.

If, however, actual damage or rot demands the removal of one or more whole sections, a bolster chisel makes a good lever for prising boards off. The best place to begin removal is at an external corner; otherwise take the overlapping board at an internal corner, or start at the point where the skirting meets the doorway.

Usually skirting boards are nailed in place, but you must be alert for screws (their heads may be covered with filler or even wooden plugs). Unscrew them. first, or, if that’s impossible, cut away a little plaster above the skirting board and slip a cold chisel behind the skirting to chop through them before you finish prising the board off.

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