Getting the skirting right!

Years ago, when we moved into our new home, we used all the money we had at the time, so it came to decorate, we went for the cheapest cheap stuff. I still remember vividly that we hand stripped off all the 50s wallpaper from the previous owner, hand sand the skirting boards until all my 10 fingers were raw, then paint it coat after coat of paint, and also having to deal with the occasional drops of paint that soaked through the old newspaper, and had to live with the paint smell for the next few months. This time, I decided that I am going to look for some better alternatives. We borrowed a steamer paper strip machine from my brother. It worked wonders. I pushed the steamer against the wall, it produced the steam, and wallpaper just came up so much quicker and easier. So I spent half day and finished stripping off all the wallpaper in one room which would have taken me longer. Then we got double primed and sanded skirting boards from, so no more sanding and multiple painting for us to do, and no more raw fingers. We fixed the skirting boards on the wall, then paint over them with one coat, job done !



Common Types of Woods Used in Making Baseboards  

Although modern baseboards can be made out of different types of materials ranging from the organic to synthetic, traditional baseboards were originally made out of wood. And while there are different types of wood that can be made into baseboard or skirting board, each of these have their own setbacks and plus factors that can affect the process of selecting the kind of wood to use.

skirting board



1. Hardwoods

Hardwoods are so named because these are woods that are stronger, and have the advantage of being more long-lasting and durable; which leaves them less likely to be damaged than softwoods. Older homes tend to have skirting boards made out of this kind of wood, most commonly from poplar trees, to help keep out rodents such as rats and mice and preventing them from chewing through the base of the wall to enter the room. Another advantage of hardwood is that it is easier to stain as compared to medium density fiberboards or softwoods. On the other hand, they are often much more expensive than other types of materials used to make baseboards.

2. Softwoods

These are woods that have considerably less strength and durability than hardwoods, but are usually considerably cheaper as well. Softwoods such as pine don’t normally last as long as their sturdier counterparts and are more likely to be damaged much sooner, but they have gained popularity as being commonly used to replace hardwood baseboards in older homes during renovation as they don’t really show any distinguishable difference to the naked eye when properly varnished or painted.

3. Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

MDF or Medium Density Fiber Skirting board  is often sold as a cheaper alternative to hardwood, but is itself not really wood at all. MDF is the artificial product of wood that has been subjected to heat and pressure to be made into a board, the leftover fibers of which are glued together to make the fiberboard. When used as skirting boards, they can be pretty indistinguishable from true wood once varnished or painted to look like real wood, and can be just as tough when the quality is top notch. However, poorly constructed MDF skirting board may not last nearly as long.

4. Bamboo Baseboards

Although bamboo isn’t exactly wood, it looks like one and is often used as a substitute for hardwood where necessary due to its sturdiness. Interestingly though, bamboo is one of the priciest materials for skirting boards.

Skirting board costs vary not only by the type of wood that was used to make it, but also by the size. Depending on the type of finish and style that you’re aiming for, there’s bound to be a suitable baseboard material for you.

“DIY Law”

I’m not talking about doing law yourself, or becoming your own lawyer.

This is more about the law when you decide to take up a hammer and chisel, and get stuck into some DIY.

Particularly relevant is when you are looking at doing some internal alterations such as changing door frames or architraves because there are now regulations on minimum widths, heights and materials used when you are replacing these elements of your interior.

If you are planning on having guests over, you may find that you should have used fire resistant materials in case of fire whilst your guests are present – if you have made changes, you may be legally responsible for those changes and any effects they have had.

The same can go for doors – particularly if you are running a business premises, as these will have to be fire rated doors and certified as such by the manufacturer. if you are unsure, and the manufacturer doesn’t confirm it, you may be required to get legal indemnity from a qualified barrister.

If the building is a new one, then you will be regulated by lots of new requirements of building regulations, planning law and safety requirements etc.



Barrister or a solicitor?

You may be left wondering whether you are better advised to use a solicitor or a barrister.

Firstly, you need to know the difference if you are going to make a choice.

Solicitors are generally regarded as the first port of call, however in recent years barristers have increasingly been taking on direct access work under the public access scheme.

For the vast majority of cases, solicitors will be able to deal with the procedures and paperwork, however barristers will have the in-depth and specific knowledge about the exact law that your case will rely on, it is this expert advice that the solicitor will refer to at the appropriate stage of your case progress.

The question therefore lies, do you want a solicitor AND a barrister, or would you prefer a single port of call?

Barristers can specialise in a vast range of subject matters of law, and you will therefore find a barrister that has specific, expert knowledge and experience in dealing with cases just like yours. More importantly, should your case require a hearing or tribunal, the barrister will have had experience in the advocacy that represents your case, but a solicitor will not have right of audience.*

The barrister will then be known as a direct access barrister and will be able to take your case on a one-to-one basis, without the solicitor being involved at all.


* Some solicitors have now taken advocacy courses to become a solicitor-advocate, for limited rights of audience.