How to paint skirting boards like a pro

Painted pine skirting drying

Comprehensive guide to preparing and painting your new pine skirting boards and door frames to keep them looking good for years to come. This guide ensures a smooth professional finish with no risks of bleed from knots or warping boards.

Pine skirting boards are more durable and better looking than MDF skirting, but they can be much more of a pain to get it finished and fixed in your room. Choose MDF skirting if you want this job done quickly. It’s usually pre-painted and easy to install (all you need to do is cut and fit). However if you already have pine skirting to paint, or just want the nicer look of pine skirting, then follow the steps below to make sure you get the most out of it. This guide is appropriate for bare pine skirting and also painted boards that you want to re-use or spruce up. If using skirting that’s already painted, sand the skirting down until you can see the bare wood and skip the “Preparing your boards” step.

What you’ll need

Everything you need to paint your skirting boards

You’ll need the following to get started:

  • Pine skirting boards (obviously)
  • Pollyfilla
  • Sandpaper (anything between 30 and 120 will do)
  • Knotting solution (I used Colron)
  • Dulux Primer & Undercoat
  • Dulux Satinwood (or your choice of gloss topcoat)
  • Soft paintbrush (between 1-2″ width)

Preparing your boards

If they’re not already, cut your boards to size. (Remember, external corners are done at 45° cuts. Interior corners are flat.)

If you’re lucky your pine skirting will be fairly smooth and ready to get started with. If you’re unlucky, like me, they’ll be a mess of scuffs and holes. First check for any holes or knots that aren’t smooth. Fill with Polyfilla, leave for 30mins – an hour and then sand smooth.

When this is complete, use your knotting solution and cover all visible knots with a thin coat. Leave to dry (an hour or so) and then apply a second coat. The purpose of this is to prevent the tannins in the knot seeping though into the paint. If this step isn’t followed, in a few months to a year you’ll begin seeing brownish marks in your paint over each knot.

Untreated knots showing though gloss painted doorframe

Untreated knots showing though a gloss painted door frame

Painting your boards

Cover your work area with a dust cover or newspaper if necessary. Lay your boards out on the floor and prop them up on anything you can find. This can be old scraps of wood, old spacers from installing laminate flooring, or, in my case, left over pipe clips. This lets you paint your skirting boards and let them dry without sticking to the floor, which may damage your floor or leave lumps in your paintwork.

Keep your skirting off the floor

Use old wood or plastic to lift your skirting off the floor

Paint the front and top of your skirting with two coats of Dulux Primer & Undercoat. Allow time to dry between coats and make sure to sand between coats. Also paint the back of your skirting with a single coat. This helps prevent your pine skirting warping and will give a layer of protection to the back in case of water damage (eg spills). The paint is very thick, so watch out for it gathering in big blobs on the underside or edges when painting.

Then, follow with two coats of Dulux Satinwood or your choice of a gloss or satin top coat, again allowing for time to dry between coats (this is usually a couple of hours but check the back of the tin).


Install your skirting boards using adhesive or screws (or both). Fill in any screw holes or bad joins between boards with more Polyfilla, then sand and touch up the paintwork.

I find this method much easier than installing and then painting, but you can easily install your skirting boards first and use the same products and procedures to finish your boards.

Painted pine skirting

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