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The Origins of the Skirting Board

The skirting board started out life as a functional piece for the home. Firstly, one of the intended purposes for this was to hide the imperfect lower edge of the plastered walls, as back in the day standards were not as high or perfectly finished as they are today. Another function was to actually protect the wall from damage from movement of furniture to every day wear and tear posed by the home dwellers and animals alike. Another purpose, and perhaps quite under handed, was to disguise the presence of rising damp back before such standards of damp proofing were to be introduced.

beautifully designed skirting boards made for your home

The Victorians used skirting boards as an actual status symbol for their homes, along with dado rails, this being that the higher the skirting was up the wall, the more importance and stature was to be placed on that room. As you might imagine, a living room (or parlour) would have skirting boards stretching half way up the wall as this being the main room where guests would come to be entertained by the host, vice versa for the kitchen or utility room where they would probably have little to no skirting what so ever. All these would be adorned with ‘carvings’, similar to that of classical Roman or Greek mythologies.

These strikingly large skirting boards were to eventually be replaced by the more humble and modest boards we know today as damp-proof legislations were bought into action. The simple skirting board had made its home in the British households already by then, and has since been used in practically every home you would visit, it is essentially a part of your home.

What Materials You Would Likely Use

The choice of materials available to us in everything we use today is wide and varied, from stair bannisters made of steel, to flooring made of stone. The same applies to our friend the skirting board, it can be constructed from many types of materials, but the outstanding favourite is always wood. As you would know, there are a few types of wood that are available to construct skirting boards from, woods such as pine or mahogany. These types of skirting are usually applied and stained to give them a great look to compliment the wall’s finish. MDF is the all-rounder in this field, cheap and easy to apply or replace, and ready to be applied with whatever finish you can throw at it making it ideal for absolutely any location in your home. This is available at most places in two formats, either pre-finish or pre-primed. Being pressed into form by a mixture of different woods, glues, and resins make this extremely durable and hardy to damage.

Softwood & Hardwood Skirting      

Softwood skirting is as the name suggests, of a soft nature, making it more pliable around the home. This in turn, as you may have guessed also makes it more susceptible to damage, meaning potential buyers of skirting may not wish to use it. In contrast though, it has many advantages over MDF or hardwoods as it can be used how you like it. It can be sanded down to be used ‘as new’, redecorated to suit the surroundings as and when required. This makes it a great option if you are looking to save money in the long run.

Hardwoods are the hardy types of skirting, able to stand pretty much whatever you or life throws at it, this makes it ideal for your more active households that have a lot of foot fall or activities going on it. This can come at a more premium price as it is normally a pre-ordered product that the client may have made to fit specific requirements. The price is normally worth the extra though, as it is seen to be more of a bespoke job.    

Manufacturing Processes

While originally made by hand, the industry has changed and grown with the passage of time, meaning turn around must be quick based upon the client’s needs. Machinery able to create and make the skirting boards necessary have been around for a while, and this makes the task of creating boards to clients’ needs on demand much easier for the suppliers. They are able to create profiles for all types of skirting, from a simple two edge profile or lambs tongue to a jazz profile. There are quite a few different profiles that you can find to suit your design, or functional, needs to fit comfortably within your home. Machines are also available to coat skirting boards, or any timber products, in any number of finishes or treatments, from paints, primer, stains to a lacquer finish. The advantages to this over doing it by hand should be obvious, time for one, applying by hand would be extremely time consuming whereas placing it through the machine means seconds. In addition, this means one applicable coat to the timber product in question, and if you have a whole house or flat to apply your timber product to, you can see the advantages of machinery removing the hand application process.

vintage style skirting          regency profile skirting

These machines also come with a ‘vacuum’, meaning any excess paint gets removed on the final part of the process through the machinery, giving your product an even coating, imagine doing that by hand for a bunch of boards. With these machines, you may be able to achieve between five thousand to ten thousand metres of coverage in a day, we are sure you have more pressing things in life to deal with rather than worrying about than covering that amount of distance armed with a three-inch brush. All these machines give you more time to apply the boards and less time making them look good.

Here at Knowles Skirting, we have years of experience at dealing with all types of requests for skirting boards, and would be thrilled to have you check out our design catalogue for inspiration. In the unlikely event you do not find a design that takes your fancy, you can always get in touch with us to discuss what your needs are.