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Painting Skirting Boards

This article assumes that the skirting boards have been filled where necessary and they have been thoroughly sanded.

Knotting Solution

Knotting solution supplied with brush

1. Knots in new wood can contain a fair amount of sap and unless these are sealed properly, they will eventually bleed through the paint work spoiling the finish with brown / yellow stains. Using the brush mounted in the lid of the tin of knotting solution, apply a full coat to all knots.

Applying knotting solution to knots

2. The area covered should extend ½” or so beyond the edges of the knot. Knotting solution is made from shellac and dries very quickly.


3. Check the details on the tin and, if necessary, stir the primer thoroughly. Then pour some primer into a paint kettle.

Loading brush with primer

4. Load your brush by dipping the tips in the primer then dabbing off the excess on the inside edge of the kettle. Don’t use the top edge of the kettle as this will lead to a build up of part dried paint which will contaminate the rest.

Applying primer to skirting board

5. Apply the primer along one section of the skirting board, and then spread to give an even covering.

Cutting in primer

6. Cut in the primer along the top edge of the skirting. Draw the brush along the top edge and adjust the pressure to push the bristles right up to the wall edge. This requires a little practice to get a smooth even coating. Ensuring that you have a reasonable amount of paint on the brush without it being overloaded will make it easier.

Apply the primer in sections

7. As you work your way along, apply the paint a little away from the previous section rather than right up to it. You can then work it back to the previous section with the brush. Lay off the primer with light brush strokes before moving onto the next section.

8. Continue working along the skirting so that the whole surface is covered. Work the paint carefully into the corners. At the top edge, it can be a little tricky to get the bristles into the corner. Rotate the brush slightly and apply a little extra pressure to splay the bristles and they will work into the corner more easily.

9. Allow the primer to fully dry. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for this. For acrylic or water based primers, this will normally be a few hours but for solvent based primers it will be overnight.

Sanding the primed skirting board

10. Give the skirting a light sand with fine grade abrasive paper. Primer can swell the grain a little and leave the surface slightly rough. A light sand will smooth this out allowing the next coat to be smooth and even.

11. Apply an undercoat to the skirting. This may be a solvent based undercoat or, if you’re using water based paint, a first coat of the finish paint you’re using.

Applying undercoat

12. Apply the paint in the same way as for the primer, spreading it evenly then laying it off with gentle brush strokes along the grain. When you lay off the paint you should work from wet to dry and gradually lift the brush as you do so. This will leave a smooth finish.

Cutting in the undercoat

13. As before, take your time cutting in the top edge so as to get a clean even line where the skirting meets the wall.

Final coat of paint applied to skirting board

14. Allow the previous coat to fully dry then give it a light sand with fine grade abrasive paper. The final finish coat is the carried out in the same way. As you can see from the pictures, cutting in neatly along the top edges gives a crisp sharp look to the work.

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