Skirting board is an architectural element used to enhance the appearance of a staircase. Also known as stair stringers, skirt boards are installed along one or both sides of a stairwell, depending on the design. When one side of the staircase butts against a wall and the other side features an open railing, a skirting board is typically used only on the side that butts the wall.
A skirting board not only gives the staircase a decorative look, but may also serve a practical function. It can be used to hide gaps between the staircase and the wall, particularly when one of these elements is slightly crooked or uneven. Skirt boards also keep dust and dirt from gathering in these gaps, which makes it easier to keep the stairs clean. In some instances, the skirting board gives the staircase added strength and support, helping it to maintain its shape. Finally, skirt boards act as protective plates, helping to protect the walls from scuff marks, dents and other signs of damage.
Depending on the desired appearance, a skirting board can be made from a wide variety of different materials. They are often made from wood to match or complement hardwood flooring. Some skirt boards are made from composite wood products, thermoplastics, or even stainless steel. Homeowners may choose to paint or stain the skirting board to complement the surrounding decor, though some of units are sold with a factory finish already in place. These boards may be smooth or textured, and come with a variety of different profiles that can be used to match other types of trim in the home.
To install skirt boards on stairs, it is helpful to start before the stair risers and treads are in place. Once the stringers, or structural supports have been installed, installers can measure carefully around these supports to determine size of the board skirts. It is important that each section of the stair supports are measured before cutting a skirt board, as different sections of the stair can vary in size from top to bottom. The skirt board is then fit around the supports and nailed in place using small finish nails. After the skirting installation is complete, installers can proceed with risers and treads.
Most pre-built staircase units include skirting boards on one or both side. These boards give the unit enough stability and strength to hold it together during shipping and installation. Pre-built staircase units allow installers to complete staircase installation in one simple step, with little risk of error.