Architrave and skirting are an important part of any building project. They are installed as part of second fix carpentry work and provide a neat aesthetically pleasing finish.
Architrave is traditionally placed around doors and other openings. Whereas skirting is fitted around the room at floor level. There function is very much the same as they are used to cover the rougher edges created after first fix and plastering.
Skirting and architrave are produced in almost exactly the same way. There are only 2 main differences:
- The width of the boards
- And the edges that are painted
Other than these two minor differences, they are essentially the same product. Therefore, in theory, you could use architrave as skirting. However, the main concern would be the aesthetic of the finish. Does it look good? You may find a 3-inch skirting board looks a little odd. Especially when it buts up to identical architrave.
But, essentially, a 3-inch pencil round architrave is exactly the same mould as a 4- or 5-inch pencil round skirting boards. The main difference is the architrave is ripped down to a thinner width (in this example 3 inch).
If you have purchased skirting boards and architrave from the same place, the moulds should be identical. This will still be true for more complicated moulds, such as Ogee or Taurus. As you can see below:
The only other difference between the two is if you buy primed architraves and skirting, the architrave will have its back edge painted. The reason for this, is it will be on display and painted. Whereas the same edge on skirting boards will be sat on the floor.
When can you get away with using architrave as skirting?
Most people would not use architrave as skirting, this is simply because the finish won’t be as good. 3 inches at the bottom of your room, is a very small amount of timber to cover the bottom of plaster and any other first fix work that is visible.
Most of the time plasterers will not go all the way to the floor. So, there will often be at least an inch or more at the bottom which needs covering. You will also need to think about other trades, such as plumbers running pipes for radiators. These could be running the entire length of a wall and would often be hidden by a boxed skirting. For a job like this, a 3-inch architrave probably won’t be good enough.
Whilst a 3-inch architrave is more standard. You can sometimes get 4-inch. Obviously, skirting can also come in 4-inch, so these two would essentially be the same thing. However, wider architraves are far less common. If they are wider, they are often more decorative hard woods. In fact, you are far more likely to come across even thinner (2 inch) architrave than wider pieces. Obviously, these would be pretty useless as skirting.
In my opinion, the only real excuse to use a standard 3-inch architrave as a piece of skirting would be in an area that is not as important. For example, a cupboard under the stairs, or something like a utility room.
Also, I would probably only do this is, if there was no skirting left, and I had spare architrave. I would also have to be happy that I could achieve a good finish. If not, I would simply buy more skirting.
Can skirting be used as architrave?
OK, so we have established that architrave is not often used as skirting. However, it is clearly possible. But what about the other way round? Can we use skirting as architrave?
The simple answer to this is yes. It actually reminds me of a popular saying amongst joiners and carpenters “you can take it off, but you can’t put it back on”
What I mean by this, is a 3-inch architrave cannot be turned into 4-inch skirting. However, a 4-inch skirting can easily be ripped down to a 3-inch architrave. As we have already mentioned the mould is identical.
This could be achieved with either a circular saw with a guide, or a table saw. There is also the possibility of doing it with a hand saw and cleaning the edge with an electric plane. Although cutting this straight and square with a hand saw would require a high degree of skill.
Once your skirting is ripped down to the same width as architrave, it will be identical. In fact, providing they were manufactured in the same place, and the width is identical, you could easily use your ripped skirting with original architrave, and no one would ever know the difference. In theory they should match perfectly.
Skirting and architrave are very similar products. The goal of each is the same, and that is to provide a neat and pleasing finish around gaps and rough edges. As a general rule of thumb, you wouldn’t use architrave in place of skirting. However, it is possible, and there are a few situations where it could be deemed acceptable.