Painting Wooden Mouldings

There are several different techniques for painting the moulded wood around your home such as skirting boards, picture rails and balustrades. Picture rails and skirting boards are usually painted in white gloss, unless they need to match other woodwork in the room. Balustrades should be painted to match the door and other woodwork in the hallway.

Before painting any woodwork in your home, fill any holes and cracks with the appropriate filler and allow it to fully set before painting. Make sure the filler is sanded smooth and that any dust and dirt is removed from the wood before you start.

Picture Rails

If you can possibly help it, don’t paint your picture rail after the main wall finish has been applied (whether that is wallpaper or emulsion). Using a brush slightly narrower than the width of the rail, paint in smooth strokes along its length. As with almost all gloss painting work, it is better to apply 2 thin coats than 1 thick one, as a thick coat is more likely to run and drip. Once you have finished a full length of picture rail, but before the paint has dried, run the brush along the length to pick up any stray runs.

Skirting Boards

Whenever possible, paint skirting boards before the final floor covering is fitted. If the floor covering is already in place, either lift it (carpets) or cover it with dustsheets (laminate, solid wood or carpet you cannot lift). Because you are working close to the floor, the brush will quickly pick up any dust and dirt. Before you start, vacuum both the top of the skirting and along the gap between skirting and floor. If you have lifted the carpet or if the floor coverings have not yet been laid, you can slide a strip of cardboard into the gap as you paint to further protect the brush from dirt.

Use a brush roughly half the width of the skirting board and work from top to bottom. Apply the paint in a 1 metre strip along the bottom of the board, then go back and paint the middle and top of the skirting for that metre. Repeat this process along the full length of the room. Make sure than you do not leave excess paint where you join one painted section to the next. Only lay the flooring, or relay your carpets once the paint is fully dry.


Certain parts of a staircase will suffer a lot of handling, so getting the paintwork right is important, especially on the handrail and uprights. If the staircase is bare wood, wash the handrail down with sugar soap to remove any dirt and grease which may have built up. If you are painting over existing paint, sand the surface well to break down the gloss and provide a good key for the fresh paint.

Start by painting the uprights of the staircase, starting at the top of the stairs and working from the top of each upright. Heavily moulded uprights in a staircase can be tricky to paint, so take your time and paint methodically. Uprights with a round cross section are particularly tricky, as it is easy to miss strips altogether. To help avoid this, work in good light and check each upright from several angles before moving on to the next.