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How To Use Colour On Skirting Boards

What Colour Should I Paint My Skirting Boards?

For decades the classic colour for internal mouldings has been white, however, recently painting skirting boards a different colour has been on trend. In this article I will show you different ways to use colour on your skirting boards for different effects, and outline considerations for those who are pondering what colour to paint them.

All colour schemes revolve around two primary principles: contrast and continuity. Your skirting board colour choice can be used to achieve either of these principles, but can also manipulate the perception of height in a room or help draw attention to other room features. The balance you choose to strike between contrast and continuity will depend on what you want from your colour scheme. So first, you need to ask yourself some questions to inform some of the themes we will talk about further down:

  1. 1) Do you want to use strong or pale colours?
  2. 2) Are you trying to draw the eye to other features in that room (or on that wall)?
  3. 3) Do you need to inject a new colour into the scheme?


Contrasting Skirting Board Colours

Colour schemes featuring deep, strong colours always stand out, whether the colour is used throughout the room, or just on a feature wall. However, a strong colour is often most effective when contrasted against a secondary colour. A secondary colour acts as a balance, and stop the primary, bold colour being too overbearing.

White is a good primary or secondary colour to employ this technique with, and for this reason is why skirting boards are usually painted white. White will complement almost any other colour in your room. This can be especially striking when used with darker colour schemes, and can both brighten a room, and lift the tone of a colour scheme, while providing contrast. This contrast can be very effective, as it will serve to ‘frame’ the wall they are fixed to and provide an immediate, side by side colour contrast.

White skirting boards contrasting with blue scheme.

Image credit: Style By Emily Henderson
Recreate this look with Victorian skirting board 

I think the interior above does this very well. The white skirting in stark contrast against the blue wall colour, lifts what would other-wise be a dull scheme, but also gains continuity with the white pictures, light shades, throw and ceiling. This provides a dual-coloured foundation on which to introduce further feature colours, in this case being the leather furniture which particularly draws the eye. The result is a powerful, but well balanced, contrasting interior.

It is also important to note that contrasting effects can look equally effective with light coloured walls contrasting with dark skirting colours. Check out the black skirting boards in the interior below.

Dark skirting boards contrasting with light walls

Image Credit: House & Garden
Recreate this look with Large Victorian skirting board and architrave

However, contrast can also be pulled off well with lighter colours. Painting mouldings and doors can be a really good way of bringing colour into the room – especially if you have white walls like in the image below.Pale blue skirting contrasting with white walls.

Image Credit:

White skirting contrasting with pale blue walls.


Image Credit: Bed Kingdom

Continuous Skirting Board Colours

Continuity can be just as effective as contrast. Painting your skirting the same colour can deliver several effects.

First it can deliver a borderless room opening up the space (particularly if light colours are used), and have a calming effect on an interior, by reducing the number of contrasts. It will also maximise the feature effect of a wall if it is one slid block of colour, rather than being trimmed with a white skirting board.

Second, your wall can create a ‘background’ and give you a blank canvass on which to place a prominent feature or piece of decoration. The eye will then be naturally drawn away from the plain wall to the contrasting decoration. The features will be emphasised, as the eye won’t get caught by the contrasting colours of wall and skirting.

The room below creates this effect well by using a small skirting board painted the same colour as the wall, with the eye being drawn to the yellow of the sofa, and the white of the art on the wall.

Red skirting board in continuity with red walls.

Image Credit: Cote Maison
Recreate this look with Bullnose skirting board

The bathroom below also achieves this effect very well, with the eye being drawn to the mirror, light, sink and towel.

Black skirting boards in continuity with black walls.

Image Credit: Sheer Luxe
Recreate this look with Torus Small Skirting Board

A word of caution, colour contrast is an important tool when generating a colour dynamic, so don’t allow the continuity to go too far and overpower the room – it still needs to be balanced with some contrast.

The key is to decorate/furnish the wall; bringing feature elements with art, pictures, mirrors, or positioning furniture in front of it. The floor colour also helps to bring contrast in all of these examples.

We spoke with Zoey over at Wood Flooring Ireland for their expert opinion on floor colour and the importance of space:

“We can’t overstate the importance of balance – what you want to do is create a striking, yet cohesive atmosphere in the space, but your wall colours, skirtings and flooring choices shouldn’t clash, instead they should compliment one another. Darker floors, dark walls should be paired with brighter skirtings and mouldings so as to breathe life into the space. You want to exploit the space, not suffocate it.” – Zoey Dromgoole, Interior Design Expert, Wood Flooring Ireland

Compare the two interiors below and see the difference. The grey interior feels more balanced, despite the skirting being the same colour, whereas the blue in the second interior feels overbearing and somewhat empty.

Continuous grey skirting and grey wall in a balanced interior.

Image Credit: Zoopla
Recreate this look with Kensington Skirting Board

Blue skirting board in continuity with blue wall.

Image Credit: Paint and Paper Library
Recreate this look with Antique skirting board and Palace architrave

Using a New Room Colour on Your Skirting Boards

The examples we have looked at so far feature colour palettes that are already using the skirting board colour elsewhere in the room, but what if you want to introduce a completely new colour? Without upsetting the colour scheme to much, one of the best ways of doing it is to introduce a new colour which is to introduce either a similar shade or tone of a colour in your room.

This technique provides both further layers of colour with a limited contrast, but one that also maintains similarities with you original colour. This can be very effective method of introducing a new colour while still maintaining a balanced colour palate. Decoration can then be used to provide greater contrasts if necessary.

In the example below the grey coloured skirting is a slightly different shade to that of the kitchen units but shares a tone with most of the colours in the room, while the wine rack is a totally different colour, but maintains a similar tone.

Grey skirting board in tonal continuity with interior.

Image Credit: The Paper Mulberry
Recreate this look with Square skirting board and Torus Small architrave

This guide should have given you some good ideas about how to select the right colour for your skirting boards, but Dulux and Farrow and Ball also offer great guides on how to create a colour scheme for your interior should you need more help.

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