Often overlooked (when they’re not being bashed by feet, paws, scooters and various ride-on toys), skirting boards are an important element to a room. They can be a subtle detail that can finish off a new décor scheme as well as add protection to those parts of the lower walls that are vulnerable to attacks. It’s important to get the right balance of form and function when you’re choosing new skirting boards as you want them to fit in with your style and be tough enough to cope with whatever your household might (literally) throw at them.
The purpose of your skirting boards
Your skirting boards are the original multi-taskers. They were originally devised to cover up less-than-perfect plastering as well as concealing the expansion gap that wooden floors have around the edges of the room. These handy features also provide a “break” for the eye and, finally, prevent scuffs and bangs from wheels, feet, vacuum cleaners and heavy furniture.
Finally, skirting boards fit in with the general style of your home and its décor and you can’t let function override form or your rooms can look a bit clinical or even industrial. Of course, if that’s your goal, then OK, but if it’s not, then you should consult skirtingsrus.co.uk for advice and ideas.
Consider your style
Usually, if you live in a period property then it’s best to keep as many of the original features and trimmings as you can. Obviously, things wear out and get damaged over the decades, but when it’s time to replace them, try to get as close to the original as possible. You don’t have to do this, but if you’re planning to sell a few years down the line, then it’s best to play safe.
If your home is more contemporary, then you can branch out a bit and introduce your own styles and finishes as there are no rules!
In general, you’re looking at either solid wood, MDF or HDF. Real wood can warp and split, so most modern skirting boards are made from MDF or HDF.
The benefits of MDF
MDF, or medium-density fibreboard, is moisture-resistant and doesn’t swell or warp as much as wood, so there’s not much you need to do once it’s installed; this material lasts much longer than most softwoods.
It’s also considerably cheaper than real wood and you can buy your skirting boards pre-treated or even pre-painted.
If you don’t buy your boards pre-painted, the smooth surface of the MDF makes doing it yourself really easy.
MDF skirting boards are precision-cut so they’re also very easy to install. It’s possible to order skirting boards with pre-cut routing channels, which means you can conceal cables without having to cut into a wall.
The benefits of HDF skirting boards
You get the same benefits as with MDF, but they’re a bit more enhanced. HDF (high-density fibreboard) is more moisture-resistant and harder than MDF.
It doesn’t swell up or warp at all, which makes painting or any other decoration easier and this material is ideal for rooms like bathrooms or kitchens, which can get damp or wet.
The only real disadvantage of MDF or HDF is that they need to be painted for aesthetic reasons. If you want a clear stain or a varnish look, you’ll need soft or hard wood.