How to

How to paint skirting boards like a pro

Nothing makes a room renovation feel more complete than freshly painted skirting boards. And while this little strip of wood at the bottom of your wall might just feel like the decorative ribbon wrapped around your room, skirting boards do serve an important purpose in your home, protecting your walls from kicks, scuffs and scrapes.

No one could ever accuse Resene expert Tegan Williams of skirting this issue. The qualified painter and decorator and former NAWIC Tradeswoman of the Year, known to many as Tradie Gal, understands how important it is to achieve a quality result when it comes to trims and skirting boards. This comes down to setting yourself up to succeed by doing the right prep and using the best Resene paint.

“Painting your skirting boards is a satisfying job, often skirting boards can look really scruffy but it’s easy to freshen them up” says Tegan.

“Skirting boards are one of those small jobs where you think you won’t notice the end result, but you really will.”

To paint skirting boards, Tegan uses waterborne enamels Resene Lustacryl semigloss or Resene Enamacryl gloss due to their durability. I like to use Resene Lustacryl as it is a hard-wearing semi-gloss waterborne enamel and works in nicely with walls painted in low sheen paint. Another bonus is these waterborne enamels are easy to clean, which is handy for getting rid of scuff marks in the future. But before you lift a paintbrush, first clean the skirting board with Resene Interior Paintwork Cleaner. It’s also important to do the groundwork and protect your flooring with Resene drop cloths and Tegan’s masking tape hack.


Use the widest masking tape you can find and put it across the bottom of your skirting board and the edge of the carpet.
The secret is to push your masking tape firmly into the gap - Tegan also likes to use her dusting brush to really jam it in there. Then lay another piece of tape over the whole edge.
Painting skirting boards can be fiddly, but Tegan’s ingenious ‘push and pinch’ hack will mean your precious carpet remain paint-free during the process.

“It drives me bonkers when paint gets on the carpet, so here’s a handy tip to avoid that. Use the widest masking tape you can find and put it across the bottom of your skirting board, and the edge of the carpet,” says Tegan.

Tegan uses a ‘push and pinch’ technique to push the tape down between the gap between the gap between the carpet and the skirting board.

“You want to push your masking tape firmly into the gap between the two. I like to use my dusting brush to really jam it in there. Then lay another piece of tape over the whole edge. Now you’re ready to prep your skirting board for painting.”

To prep the skirting board, first sand down the skirting board and clean with a dusting brush or clean and dry cloth. Next use a gap filler to fill the gap between the wall and the skirting board and fill any holes or dents with Resene EzyFill Quick. Once dry, sand down the entire surface and clean away any dust before spot priming any filler with Resene Quick Dry and then give it a final sand.  Wipe off the sanding dust. To protect the walls from skirting board paint, use a low- tack painter’s tape to mask the edge of the skirting board.

After you have sanded, filled the gaps, holes or dents with Resene EzyFill Quick and primed with Resene Quick Dry, give the skirting board a final sand. Remember to wipe off the sanding dust before you paint.
Use a small flat oval or flat-edged brush to apply a waterborne enamel like Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss or Resene Enamacryl gloss, which are ideal for skirting boards as they’re durable and easy to clean.

Decant Resene Lustacryl into a Resene paint pot, this will make it easier to hold the paintbrush and reduce paint splashes. To paint the skirting board, first paint the flat front of the skirting board with a small flat oval or flat-edged brush along the length of the skirting board. Then paint the top edge of the skirting board carefully with a small cutting-in brush. Ensure your paintbrush isn’t overloaded with paint by tapping the brush on the side of the paint bot before brushing. This will help avoid drops and paint splashes.

“Skirting boards can be fiddly so I like to use a brush with smaller bristles so it is easy to manoeuvre. Ensure you tape out the wall with a low tack tape (I like the purple one from Resene ColorShops) if you are not confident with cutting-in a straight line on the top,” says Tegan.

Remove the masking tape from the wall when the paint is almost but not quite dry. To remove the masking tape from carpet Tegan also has a tried and tested method.

“Gently pull back on the masking tape against the edge, then take the rest of the masking tape off, slowly pulling it back on itself.”

Now your skirting boards are done!

More tips for painting skirting boards


  • When decorating a room, it’s easiest to paint the skirting boards either near the beginning or right at the end of the room. “I like to paint the skirting boards before painting the walls as I find it easier to tape out the top of the skirting afterwards to protect it from any over spray and create a nice straight line with my tape for the wall,” says Tegan.
  • If you have sore knees, try sitting on a skateboard to roll along the floor while painting the skirting board.
  • As well as masking tape you may wish to protect carpets using a paint shield or a piece of metal such as a clean oven tray.
  • To choose the colour of skirting boards and other trims decide whether you wish the trims to be a feature or to blend into the wall. If you live in a heritage home, the rooms may have ornate trims and you may wish for these to be a feature by painting them a lighter colour than the walls. If the walls are white, try choosing a lighter colour in the same colour family e.g. if the walls are Resene Double Merino, choose Resene Quarter Merino for the trims for a subtle contrast.
  • To really make your skirting board pop, consider painting it in a bright colour (try Resene Resolution Blue or Resene Pohutukawa, Resene Moonbeam or Resene Tablelands) or a dark colour (try Resene Indian Ink, Resene Cab Sav or Resene Carpe Noctem) or increase the contrast in the sheen levels by opting for gloss paint such as Resene Enamacryl

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