A Guide to Sanding Skirting Boards

Skirting board

Sanding skirting boards is an essential part of preparing your skirting boards for a paint refresh.

Skirting boards often get scuffed and scratched, especially in high traffic areas, such as hallways. Therefore, it’s a good idea to re-paint them every couple of years to instantly give your room a fresh look. Plus, it is easy and cost-effective to do it yourself!

Preparation is a smooth process

You may be wondering whether sanding is necessary. Sanding skirting boards will remove old paint and rough edges and strip back the boards to their original state. This provides a better surface for the paint to adhere to and helps you achieve a professional finish.

Although it may take a bit of time to prepare your skirting boards, this stage shouldn’t be overlooked, as it will save you time and money in not needing to apply more paint.

How to sand skirting boards

Sanding skirting boardsBefore you get stuck into sanding, move any furniture so it doesn’t get in the way and could potentially become covered in dust. Dust is produced when sanding, so remember your dust sheet, dust mask, safety glasses and work gloves, and to keep the room well ventilated!

The best sander for skirting boards will depend on how large and intricate the skirting is. If you need to get into contours and grooves, hand sanding will be the best option. However, make sure you sand in the direction of the grain! Read more tips on sanding by hand.

To save time, you can use an electric sander to do the majority of the work for you. However, you’re still likely to use sandpaper or sanding sponges for hand sanding any small curves.

Choosing what grit sandpaper to use for skirting boards depends on their condition. If there are lots of chips, you’ll need to use a skirting board filler before sanding. However, if you’re working with previously painted skirting boards, with just some minor scuffs, then you can get straight on with the preparation.  

To prepare your skirting boards, first clean the skirting boards with sugar soap, before drying the area thoroughly. Oakey Flexible Cleaning Pads are ideal for tackling dirt and getting into grooves.

Remove any rough edges by lightly sanding the skirting board with 120 grit sandpaper until you’re left with a smooth surface. Oakey Liberty Green is perfect for hand sanding or using with an electric sander, such as a sheet sander. It resists clogging and last much longer than standard sandpaper.

Don’t forget about sanding the door frames, whilst you’re working your way around the skirting board. If you have any deep scratches, use sandpaper with a medium grit of 80-120 until you remove the paint. If the door is sticking on the frame, you may need to continue sanding until it easily opens and closes. However, you can start with 120 grit sandpaper if the frame is already smooth.

Work your way up through finer grits throughout the process, from a 150 grit for finishing to a 240 grit to leave a smooth finish. Oakey Dual-Grit Flexible Sanding Sponges and Oakey Flexible Finishing Pads are ideal for contour and flat sanding and minimises the need to switch between products.

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The perfect finish

Painting skirting boardOnce you’re happy with the smooth surface, remove any excess dust with a cloth or vacuum cleaner. You’ll then be able to apply any primer and paint to achieve a fully finished skirting board.

If you’re considering how to paint skirting boards with carpet, apply masking tape close to the skirting and cover the carpet with dust sheets and newspaper. Alternatively, you can wedge a piece of cardboard in the gap between the floor and the skirting board for low pile carpets and move it as you work your way around the room. Dripping paint doesn’t matter so much for bare floorboards that are being fitted with carpet at a later date.

You may want to use a knotting solution to treat any knots before painting. This will help avoid any discolouration and ruin all your hard work spent in getting the professional finish.

An undercoat is only required when painting new wood to add some protection to the timber. For painted sanding boards that have been prepped, you can get on with applying your first coat of paint.

Choosing a skirting board paint is difficult nowadays. Some people are looking for an alternative to white gloss paint, including coloured skirting boards ideas or painting skirting boards the same colour as the wall. This is popular for walls with dark colours and is ideal if you’re looking for a more contemporary look. To limit the amount of cleaning, stick to a satin finish, rather than matte.
When painting, apply thin coats of paint in long strokes. This prevents any dripping on the floor carpet and will help you achieve a smoother finish. To achieve a straight line, apply masking tape along the top of the skirting board.

Some people often wonder whether they paint the walls or skirting first. If you’re planning to paint the whole room, it’s always best to start at the top and paint the walls first. This avoids any drips onto freshly painted skirting boards. However, paint the skirting boards first if you’re going to be hanging wallpaper.

How to clean skirting boards

For ongoing maintenance, dust your skirting boards regularly with a feather duster or dusting cloth. If you come across any scuff marks, simply clean them with a non-abrasive Oakey Flexible Cleaning Pad and warm, soapy water.

You’ll be surprised at what a difference freshly painted skirting boards make to a room. However, once you start painting the skirting boards in one room, it’s difficult to know when to stop. Before you know it, you’ll end up painting the whole house!

For more information on sanding skirting boards, get in touch or read our Reference Chart to find the right grit.


Cleaning skirting board