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Best paint for skirting boards 2021: Hard-wearing and easy to apply skirting board paint from £10

Olivia Greenway
7 Dec 2021
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Whatever your budget, whatever your taste, find the best paint for your skirting boards

Painting skirting boards might not top the list of the most exciting things to make over in your home, but scruffy boards with flaking or scuffed paint can ruin the look and feel of your personal space. That’s why finding the best paint for skirting boards is so important.

Designed to protect the wall behind them, skirting boards take a lot of rough treatment – especially in high-traffic areas with boisterous dogs or children. It’s not a difficult or massively expensive job, but is fairly disruptive, so you want to do a repaint as seldom as possible.

There’s a lot of choice out there, but we’ve searched hard to find the best paint for skirting boards to ensure you will come up smiling. The paint needs to be as simple to apply as possible, easy to clean, keep its colour and not go yellow with age if painted white. Oh, and some people don’t like the smell either – a tall order?

Well, a few years ago you would just go out and buy any high-gloss skirting board paint in brilliant white and be done with it. But life has got a little more complicated and now there’s a lot more to choose from.

Don’t worry if you are thinking “Well, actually, I like brilliant white gloss” – we cover all options in our guide, from traditional paints to edgy options. Similarly, if you're not sure what paint to buy, our buying guide below tells you everything you need to know about the different types. So read on to see which paints we recommend for your taste and budget.

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Best paint for skirting boards: At a glance


How to buy the best skirting board paint for you

What sorts of paint are there?

Gloss paint

Gloss is the more traditional finish and is often oil-based, but you can get water-based gloss paint too. Apart from traditional white, you will find shades of off-white, as well as a few colours. White gloss might be seen as the boring option, but it’s still a good way to give your home a quick “good-as-new” fresh look, which is why it remains so popular.

Satin or satinwood paint

Some homemakers have turned to a more subtle, non-shiny look, which has coincided with increased availability of satin-finish paints. A satin finish is in between gloss and matte; sometimes it’s called semi-gloss or satinwood. As the name suggests, you get a nice sheen when it dries but it’s not as reflective as gloss paint. It’s more durable than eggshell and keeps its colour well. It comes in both oil-based or water-based formulas and is the best-of-both-worlds choice.

Eggshell (super matte)

Eggshell provides a matte finish and is becoming increasingly popular – and you don’t have to stick to white. In fact, the variety of fabulous colours available is a big advantage. You can blend in with your walls, have a nice contrast or even match your old-school grey radiators – the choice is yours. Eggshell skirting-board paint has little or no shine, depending on the light in the room.

Natural wood look paint

Finally, if you have a period home and want to keep your skirting boards looking like natural wood, you can go for a wood-stain paint and have the dado and picture rails to match.

Oil or water-based paint?

Other than the type of finish you’re after, you’ll also have to decide whether you want oil- or water-based paint.

Traditionalists regard oil-based paint as more durable (and therefore better) but it usually takes longer to dry and has a stronger smell, which takes longer to dissipate. Another bonus is it keeps its shine well. After use, brushes need to be cleaned with a spirit-based product, so that’s something else to keep in mind.

Water-based gloss paint has a reputation for not yellowing as much as oil-based, but product improvements with oil means this is less of a problem nowadays. Water-based paints dry fairly quickly and are generally less strong-smelling, and brushes can be cleaned with warm, soapy water.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

No matter which paint you choose, it will only look as good as the surface it’s painted on. Make sure you don’t skimp on the time spent rubbing down and filling in any nicks and small holes. If you’re painting above carpet that can’t be lifted, make sure you protect it with masking tape. And of course, open windows to protect yourself from paint fumes. If you’re repainting existing skirting boards, you’ll probably need two coats of paint.

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The best paint for skirting boards

1. Rust-Oleum Universal Paint: Best quick-drying oil-based gloss paint

Price: From £12 | Buy now from Amazon

Originally developed for ships, the Rust-Oleum Universal Paint is a durable paint and primer combined, offering long-lasting protection from scratches and scrapes. You’re not likely to get much rust on your skirting boards, but this paint is nevertheless very popular, offering exceptional coverage with its unique formulation. It’s easy to apply and delivers a smooth finish. Unusually for an oil-based paint, it touches dry in two hours and can withstand storms at sea, as well as bad treatment from the most boisterous family members.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Oil; Size: 250ml or 750ml; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: No

2. Dulux Quick Dry Gloss Paint for Wood and Metal: Best water-based gloss paint

Price: From £10 | Buy now from Amazon

This is a low-odour paint with a gloss finish that dries in two hours and can be recoated in around four to six. It’s easy to apply and dries to a high sheen that is non-yellowing, providing good resistance to knocks and scuffs. It’s also wipeable, making it particularly suitable if you have young children or lively dogs around.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water; Size: 750ml and 2.5l; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: Yes

3. Farrow & Ball Modern Eggshell: A no-expense-spared designer matt choice

Price: From £32 | Buy now from Farrow & Ball

All Farrow & Ball paints have been water-based and eco-friendly since 2010. They’re pricer than most, but can transform your home in a few strokes with their to-die-for colour palette of 148 shades. It’s not completely dead matte, as there’s a slight 40% sheen, but it’s far less shiny than your traditional gloss. It dries in two hours, with recoating possible in around four. It’s also washable and wipeable with a low odour. Cleaning brushes is easy, too – just use warm, soapy water.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water; Size: 750ml to 5l; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: Yes

Buy now from Farrow & Ball


4. Dulux Once Satinwood Paint for Wood and Metal: Best water-based satin paint

Price: From £11 | Buy now from Amazon

This satinwood paint has been developed to provide a durable, long-lasting finish all with one coat. It’s non-yellowing and wipeable too, with no strong odour. The paint has been praised for its good coverage and satin finish, but it does take up to 16 hours to dry in some cases, so it’s not one for speedy touch-ups.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water; Size: 750ml and 2.5l; Quick drying: No; Multiple colours available: Yes

5. Crown Non-drip Satin: Best eco-friendly satin choice

Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon

This paint is almost (99%) solvent-free, making it ideal for enclosed spaces and those sensitive to strong-smelling paint. It comes in 24 colours, is easy to apply and is touch-dry in about an hour, but should be left for six hours before applying a second coat. While this is a fairly long drying time for a water-based paint, that’s the only downside we could find.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water; Size: 750ml and 2.5l; Quick drying: No; Multiple colours available: Yes

6. Everbuild wood stain: Best natural wood stain paint option

Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

Not everyone wants to paint their skirting boards with white or a colour. Some people like the look of natural wood, especially if it’s a period property, where skirting boards were traditionally left plain. This is a superb wood stain for skirting boards – it comes in eight natural shades (including clear), so you can choose a stain to match your statement furniture or go with the natural wood itself. It should look as good as new for up to five years and is also crack- and peel-resistant. What’s more, it’s touch-dry in just 30 minutes and you can apply another coat, if necessary, after four hours.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water; Size: 750ml; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: Yes

7. Ronseal One Coat: Best budget water-based gloss

Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

Ronseal’s One Coat is a non-drip and easy-to-clean paint, guaranteed to stay white for up to ten years. At £21 for 2.5 litres, it’s a budget-friendly solution to consider. We like that it’s low odour and quick-drying to a pleasing, almost-matte finish. If you want a no-nonsense uncomplicated gloss – avoiding the obvious joke for which the brand is famous – this is it.

Key detailsOil or water-based: Water; Size: 2.5l; Quick drying: Yes; Multiple colours available: No

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