Do you paint skirting boards before walls? Here's how the pros do it

Person painting wall above skirting board
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you paint skirting boards before walls? The answer is yes and no! Traditionally when painting a room you start at the top and work your way down. Why? So you don’t get paint on freshly painted walls, skirting boards or the floor. 

However, the pros don’t always do it this way. When painting skirting boards there’s different reasons and scenarios that decide in which order to paint. Find out what they are and what works best for your project with our guide.

Do you paint skirting boards before walls? When you should 

Paint for skirting boards is typically a choice of satin vs gloss. Both produce a hard-wearing finish that can take a knock or two and are easier to wipe clean than low-sheen paint finishes such as matt. This is one reason why some pros like to do skirting boards and trim first. 

Should any paint from the walls or ceiling drip onto the woodwork it is easy to wipe clean. Plus, it is easier to create neat straight lines with emulsion over the top of satin or gloss. 

However, this method will take longer – especially if using an oil-based paint – as the paint takes longer to dry than emulsion. This means you have to wait longer before you can paint a wall. But if you plan ahead we think this is the better option. 

When do you paint walls before skirting boards? 

The traditional order when painting a room is to start with the ceiling. This is followed by the walls and then the skirting boards, trim, doors and windows.

However, if you paint the walls first you will need to cover the skirting boards with painters' tape to stop spray from a roller. If you don’t cover the skirting boards, make sure you do any prep after you have painted the walls, like sanding back paint splatters, otherwise you might be doing the prep twice.

Another scenario when you might paint the walls first is when you are using the same paint for walls and woodwork to create a big block of a single colour.  

Do I caulk skirting board before or after painting?  

Caulk is used to fill small gaps between walls and skirting boards so typically caulking skirting boards is done before you start painting. Make sure the area is free from dust before you apply the caulk. 

You will need to use decorators' or painters' caulk such as SX Siroflex Premium Trade Strength Decorators Painters Caulk from Amazon. These are different to other caulks and sealants — they are still waterproof, but are formulated to allow paint to adhere to the surface. 

Caulking a skirting board

Make sure that you use decorators' or painters' caulk when caulking skirting boards (Image credit: Getty Images)
Steve Jenkins

Steve is Homebuilding & Renovating's DIY content editor, and has been a writer and editor for two decades. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.