I've just had a carptener install skirting board and I'm struggling to see how I'll decorate them so they look half-decent.

After he installed them he complained that the walls were difficult and therefore there were some large gaps between the skirting and wall (up to 11mm at its worst). He's filled these with caulk but already I'm seeing it come away in some places.

He's also put in a couple of joins on the longer lengths without asking me. These aren't especially long lengths so it's just him saving wood. They're only 2, 3 and 3.5m lengths. The joins are really obvious.

One of the external mitres is 2mm off.

Some of the nails aren't flush with the skirting.

Lastly, the gap between the skirting and the floor varies from no gap to 6mm.

Is it possible for me to caulk/fill around these issues? Or should I get him back in? I'm not sure if I'm being unreasonable or not.

Pictures here.

  • 2
    Are you certain he's finished? I would have at least expected those joints to be tidied up & nail holes caulked.
    – brhans
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 13:42
  • Yep he's done. Invoice sent over. He said that it's the decorator's job to fill the nail holes. He said that caulking the gap between the wall and skirting would normally be the decorator too. I suspect he may have gone ahead and done that mainly because of the huge gaps. Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 13:50
  • 1
    The large gaps between the walls and skirting are almost certainly the plaster's fault and your carpenter probably couldn't have done much about those. If I had to guess then I'd probably say that he didn't put any foam backer rod into those large gaps before trying to fill them - which would lead to the large blob of caulk shrinking a lot as it dried, You can always caulk some more to fill the new gaps...
    – brhans
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 13:56
  • 5
    It's certainly possible for the carpenter to reduce that gap - either by doing a better job of filling it, or by using a different method to attach the skirting to the wall. But it's not 'normal' for him to have to go to those lengths and not something he would have expected to have to do when he took the job. Tbh what I think he should have done was to call you over to look at the problem & discuss possible solutions at the time he first noticed that the walls are so uneven, rather than doing a half-assed job of filing the gaps.
    – brhans
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 17:05
  • 1
    He's done but you're not. Set the nails. Use sanding sponge in places if necessary. Caulk, Paint : Both hide all sins. That gap at the floor is the only real problem. You're trying to get away w/o using quarter round? He needed to know that up front, or you needed to be more adamant about it. That being said... not setting your own nails is some BS, but I'd assume his work was otherwise to spec (as per contract). All in all, that's what every BS-painted-trim job looks like before (quarter round) paint.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 0:02

1 Answer 1


As for the gaps between the bottom of the base board (skirting) and the floor ... that is normally covered over with a base shoe molding. Base shoe is a small dimension molding that can be pressed down to fit the variations in the floor surface. Base shoe molding is normally only skipped when carpeting is going to be installed on the floor.

A nice trick regarding base shoe molding is to fully paint it (primer plus top coats) before it is installed. This way, after install, all that needs to be done is to fill the nail holes and do very small touch-up painting. It makes for a really clean look along the floor. If a pneumatic nailer is used to install the base show the nail hole size is minimized.

In days gone by it was common to just use flat boards for skirting instead of the types in common use today that have the top shaping features formed into the skirting. This allowed for the use of an additional small shaped molding called the top cap to finish off the top edge. Similar to the base shoe, the top cap was flexible and would cover the gap between the skirting board and the wall. In those days the idea to squirt calking compound along the top edge of base boards was unheard of.

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