Fitting Victorian Skirting Board / Baseboard [44]

In this job I’m fitting Victorian skirting in a property. These are tall 250mm (~10″) baseboards. These sort of jobs can be particularly tricky since the walls are so far from level, flat or true. This room had been completely re-plastered and left ready(ish) for the skirting installation.

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This a fairly typical early 1900’s UK property. The main walls are made of brick and the stud walls are lath & plaster. The whole room has been re-skimmed but annoyingly the plasterers have left a HUGE gap around skirting level leaving very few options for attaching them to the wall.

Tools & Materials Used

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Room Preparation

I started off by removing all of the gripper rods from around the room. These were retained in case the customer wanted to use them. I knocked away any uneven chunks of plaster that might cause problems fitting the skirting, then did a full sweep-up around the whole room. A full bucket of debris was removed!

Fitting Victorian Skirting

The customer provided the new MDF 250mm skirting in a nice Victorian moulding style. I started off by checking the floor was level around the room, which is was. I then fitted packer material to the walls around the room to ensure a level surface for the skirting to sit on. It’s critical that all of the skirtings are installed level and plumb otherwise matching mitre joints etc. will be problematic. The packers were glued in place using Evo Stik Sticks Like adhesive – this is ultra-sticky and particularly great for old dirty walls.

I started by fitting two boards in each alcove, these were given straight cuts on the ends. On the far wall (window wall) I did a coping cut on the end of the board to match up to the already installed alcove skirting. All of the coped cuts are performed holding the jigsaw at a slight angle to allow for a back-cut. I then glued and screwed this long board in place. I left the end with a 45 degree cut to form a scarf joint later on. Did pretty much the same on the opposite wall. On the wall opposite the chimney breast I could attach the skirting straight to the studs using brad nails – I also glued the top edge.

Finally, I pre-built the entire section for around the chimney breast. CA glue and activator was used on the external mitres to form a perfect edge. The whole unit was then slid in to place, held in with glue and brad nails on the corners.

PRO TIP: Victorian properties often have wooden corner beads in the plasterwork around the chimney breast. You can tell if the edges are rounded then it’s probably wood. If they’re square it’s probably metal. The wood can be used as an additional brad nail fixing point for skirtings.

To finish everything of I used 2-part filler on all of the scarf joints and sanded these perfectly smooth. Once painted you’ll not see these joints at all. I then caulked around the whole room including all internal mitres (coped cuts). This is essential since even with a tight coped cut it will open up in time due to expansion / contraction of the wood. The caulk helps to minimise any visible gaps later down the line.

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