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Durban - Originally, skirting boards were designed to neatly finish off the junction between the floor and the wall.
They also fulfil the more functional task of being kickboards, protecting the wall from possible bumps, knocks and scrapes from foot traffic, moving furniture, vacuum cleaners, toys and so on.
Skirtings also provide protection for the wall from polish and floor cleaners – without them, cleaning or polishing your floor would leave a coloured rim around the base of the wall.
“However, skirtings can also add a subtle detail to any decor composition – whether sleek and modern, or intricate and traditional, skirting boards add the final finishing touch to any room,” says Charl Jacobz from Swartland Wooden Windows and Doors.
Whether they are hardwood or pine, Jacobz advises that when choosing wooden skirtings, it is important to ensure that the boards are manufactured from quality timber.
Wooden skirting boards are available in a wide variety of profiles and heights.
Choose a high and elaborate profile for a traditional look. These include the old Cape moulding and Victorian-style moulding.
For a slick, simple finish, opt for low-profile skirting.
Jacobz says: “For a seamless finish, it is absolutely essential that the skirting profile you choose is one that matches and complements the decor and architectural style of the rest of your home.
Your wooden skirtings can be finished in a number of ways – they can be stained, varnished or painted a solid colour with enamel paint.
Jacobz advises that you stain, varnish or paint them before you install them, then touch up where necessary after installation.
He says that if the skirtings are destined for an outdoor area, such as a covered patio, or they are being installed in a wet area, such as a bathroom or kitchen, it is essential that they are well sealed to avoid any warping and cracking from the inevitable exposure to moisture.
You can find skirtings that are UV and water-resistant as well as those that are anti-fungal.
There is also a wide selection of colours, from imbuia to light oak, mahogany, teak and solid white.
New technology includes water-based sealants which allow for quick and easy sanding or maintenance. It is also easier to apply darker colours over and has heat-reflective properties.
Remove old skirtings: Use a hammer and chisel to pry the old skirting boards from the wall. Place the chisel behind the skirting and gently tap with the hammer until the skirting is free from the wall. Work from one side of the wall through to the other, until the entire length of the skirting has been removed.
The area behind: For the best finish, it is recommended that you finish the wall behind the skirting before installing any new skirtings. Remove any nails left behind with pliers, and fill any cracks or chips. Wait for the filler to dry before you sand it down to a smooth finish. If you are going to repaint the room, sand any wooden floors, or install any new flooring, this is the time to do it.
Measure up: Measure the room before you go shopping for skirting boards, so that you know what quantity you will need to purchase.
Cut them to size: Starting on one side of the longest wall, measure the length to be cut. Don’t forget to add an extra 30cm to this measurement to allow for the cutting of the angled edges. Slowly work your way around the room until all the walls have been measured. Try to use the longest strips possible, as from an aesthetic perspective it is better to have long, uninterrupted strips of board rather than several smaller pieces.
Cut 45º angles: Each section will need to have its ends cut at a 45º angle to ensure that they sit neatly together in the corners of the room. Using a compound mitre saw is the easiest way to cut neat and accurate angles.
Finish off: Once all the boards are cut to the correct size and the edges have been cut to a 45º angle, you can treat the wood in your chosen finish – whether it be stained, varnished or painted. Be sure to apply a few coats – three or four – for the best finish, and leave the boards to dry thoroughly before attempting to install them.
The final touch: Sometimes the wall behind will not be 100 percent square with the board, and this will result in a small space running between the board and the wall behind. You can fill this in with wall filler and sand it down to a smooth finish once dry.
Also, if you have counter-sunk any nails, then be sure to fill these up and touch up the skirting with wood filler and a top coat in the necessary finish. – The Mercury, courtesy Swartland