Skirting and architrave are an important part of 2nd fix joinery. The architrave is mostly used around doors, although it can also be used around other openings, such as windows, loft hatches and any other opening that benefits from its use.
Skirting on the other hand, is mainly used at floor level and runs around the base of internal walls.
Both products are very similar, but architrave tends to be slightly smaller than skirting, and due to where they are fitted, the fixing methods can differ slightly. However, the way they are manufactured is nearly identical. The moulds on each piece will be the same profile.
Essentially if you ripped skirting to the same width, it would be identical in shape and size to architrave from the same supplier.
3 Main differences between skirting and architrave
There are 3 main differences between skirting and architrave:
- The width of the board – Skirting board tends to be wider than architrave. For example, if you were using 5 inch (119mm) skirting you would likely use something like a 3 inch (68mm) architrave. This gives an aesthetically pleasing finish.
- If they are primed – If you plan to paint them, you may decide to save time and buy pre-primed products. This is convenient, as the initial prime coat is already applied, and you can gloss straight on to the boards.
The small difference between the two products, is architrave will have the outside edge visible once fitted. Therefore, it comes primed. However, on skirting boards this would be the bottom edge, hence not visible, so this won’t come painted (obviously a very small difference).
- They are fitted slightly differently – Generally your architrave will always be pinned to the door casing. For this you would usually use a small fixing, such as a 40mm lost head nail, which would be punched below the surface with a nail punch. Architrave is never screwed in place.
The way skirting is fitted can vary a little more and will depend on the surface. For a stud wall you will generally screw right into the studs, and for a solid wall you will need to plug and screw.
With that said, there are many similarities in fitting. For example, you will usually used an adhesive on the back of the boards, and you should also glue the joints.
The caveat to these differences, would be if you used a pin gun. In this case you will be able to fit to most surfaces with adhesive and pins. This will usually even work for skirting on solid walls, providing there is a plasterboard surface on top.
Do you fit skirting or architrave first?
When fitting your skirting and architrave you should always fit your architraves first. Generally, you would fit all the architraves in a room, and then butt the skirting up to the edge of the architrave.
Due to the boards having an identical thickness, this will create a seamless finish. In some instances, you may find the architrave is thicker. This is usually by design and aims to give an aesthetically pleasing appearance. However, this won’t happen the other way around, and your skirting should never sit proud of your architrave.
Fitting skirtings first is not a good idea. It is not best practice and would make cutting to the exact length more difficult. Also, it could affect the gap on your architrave and the edge of the door, which could end up leaving a very poor finish.
You would also never run architrave down to the top of your skirting, as this would look terrible. You would essentially be sitting on top of the moulded edge of the skirting, which would be narrower and would leave an obvious joint.
When fitted correctly there should only be a tight joint where your skirting butts up to the architrave. Once painted this will be almost seamless, and will provide a very neat finish
Why is skirting and architrave used
The reason these two products are used is very simple. It offers an excellent way of covering gaps around your door casings and at the area your walls meet your floor.
Both are fitted after surfaces are plastered and they cover any gaps and rough edges. This leaves a neat and attractive finish in all areas of the room. Following this, all pin and screw holes will be filled and gaps around the top, edges, and joints can also be filled. This is achieved with a combination of wood filler and decorator’s caulk.
Following this, the filler can be sanded smooth, and the boards can be painted. This will give an extremely neat and aesthetically pleasing finish to your skirting and architrave.
In most ways, skirting and architrave are an identical product. The main differences are their width and how and where they are fitted.
With that said they are essentially produced in the same way. In theory you could use a wide architrave as skirting, and you could rip down you’re skirting to use as architrave. However, why waste your own time. Instead, you can just let the timber merchant do this work for you.