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The Interesting World of Skirting Boards In The UK

Skirting boards are typically overlooked when planning interior, renovating, or even when buying a home. The truth of the matter is, that they actually provide not only protection to walls but that they also add an additional design flair to any room. 

These wooden or vinyl features are actually much more interesting than you might think. In this article, we will look at the interesting world of skirting boards in the United Kingdom. 

What is a Skirting Board? 

Also known as a mopboard, baseboard, skirting, base molding, or floor molding, the skirting board is a vinyl or wooden feature that covers the part of the wall closest to the floor. It can be cut into different lengths to fit the room’s layout and are typically screwed, nailed, or glued to the wall. 

First designed in the Victorian era as the elite’s decorative pieces for their homes. Because the area where the floor and the wall met would usually have bad painting jobs and uneven brick textures, the area would be covered with moldings to create a more luxurious and appealing look. Watch this video to discover more about the history of these underrated pieces:

They are not only made from different materials, but they can also be found in many different designs and molds. Depending on the design you are going for, baseboards can measure up to a height of 1.5 meters high. These higher skirting boards are named wainscots and covers between 1-1.5 meters of the lower part of the wall. 

Characteristically, baseboards cover only up to ankle height (less than 20 centimeters) of the wall.  

Skirting Material 

Materials used for baseboards vary between price, durability, texture, and color. Here is a list of the most typically used materials when manufacturing them: 

  • PVC: The most commonly used plastic when manufacturing baseboards is PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). It is used because it is hard, flexible, and durable.  These designs are typically found in white or other shades of white. Owners do have the option to paint and repaint vinyl models too. They are a popular choice because they can fit any kind of wall, no matter the uneven texture, compared to wood which isn’t as flexible.

    Because they are glued to the wall with strong adhesive, they can be difficult to replace and remove. Regardless, Vinyl is durable and can last for a very long time without any maintenance. Furthermore, they are much more affordable than expensive timber types.

  • Wood: Traditionally, wood was used to create different molds in Victorian homes. Today, it’s still a material of choice for many builders and home owners. The type of wood used to create these baseboards are usually softwoods like Pine, Spruce, Cedar, Cypress, and Yew. Hardwoods like Birch, African Blackwood, Maple, Oak, Teak, and Walnut can be bought raw to be stained or lacquered.

    Boards made from wood are either sold as one single piece or are finger jointed to create a longer unit. Recently, more home owners have

  • Engineered Wood: Different woods that are engineered and combined like plywood, wood-plastic composite, glue laminated, hardboard, MDF (Medium-density fiberboard), cross-laminated, and OSB are also popular material choices.


Its main function is to provide protection to the area of the floor where the wall and the floor meets. This area can easily get damaged because of walking, furniture being pushed against it, abrasion, and accidental kicks against it. When left unprotected, the area can easily look unpleasant. Floorboards, carpet, or tiles can lift up and will need to be replaced much more often if there isn’t any skirting protecting that area. 

Furthermore, it can also be used for decorative purposes. Either casing the door or windows, crowning the area between the ceiling and the wall, as well as placed running through the middle of the wall as a chair rail. Check out this illustration for an example of its different decorative molding purposes. 

Different Treatments

To treat the skirting boards in order for them to fit a specific design aesthetic, manufacturers use different treatments. The treatment of the skirting will have an effect on the overall price. Different treatments can include: 

  • Oil

  • Paint striped

  • Thermal 

  • Varnish

  • Waxing

  • Adhesive

  • Heat bending

  • Wood stain

  • Wood preservation, finishing, and drying

  • Steam bending

  • French polish


The United Kingdom is known for different design and architectural eras. Derived from these different eras, skirting is usually named according to the era in which it was designed. Periods like the Edwardian and Victorian eras are popularly used in modern designs today. 

There are loads of different wooden and plastic designs available for home owners, interior designers, and builders to choose from. Here is a list of the most popular designs available:

  • Chamfered: This design features a subtle rounded middle that is sleek and polished. It remains a go-to design because of its simplicity and clean shape. They are popularly used in the UK.

  • Bullnose: Another very popular design is the bullnose. It features a thick top and a gradual decline to the floor. It’s popular in many modern homes because of its simplicity and adaptability to any design aesthetic.

  • Torus: The Torus is an ornate skirting board that features a half circle design at its top and an angular downward cut to the floor. This design looks great in MDF material, like the ones found at Metres Direct skirting boards.

  • Ogee: Perfect for all classically styled dining rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms, the ogee is an extremely ornate design that can be made from hardwoods, softwoods, and engineered woods. 

Additionally, designers and builders can choose different architrave designs to add an extra touch of design to door and window frames. Just like skirting boards, architraves are made from all kinds of materials and can be customized to fit the shape and size of any room. 

When you are planning to renovate an old room or design a new room’s interior, be sure to add skirting boards to the plan. 


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