I'm doing some minor re-wiring (220v mains) whilst re-decorating my home, I'm trying to work out when I have to use conduit and when I can just use cable clips

Common sense says to use conduit to protect wiring in low down areas where it might get knocked or damaged (along skirting boards or the edge of the floor). Whereas wiring close to the ceiling, in the back of built in-cupboards or behind kitchen units is probably safe from damage.

What do UK wiring regulations say? - It's really hard to pin down any definitive statements, I've found a couple of web-sources that say 'exposed wiring' should be in conduit, but no definition of what counts as exposed!

Update - I'm talking about long lengths of rectangular plastic channel designed to be stuck or screwed to a wall to conceal and protect electrical cables. Like this

My attempt to find the 'offical' answer has failed - there are so many many buildng and wiring regulations, that it's hard to even find the correct document to start reading, let alone fine the right section to read.

Some of the cables I want to tidy are a no-brainer, the cable runs are long and straight without any kinks, or obstructions. Running it in conduit/trunking is the safest, easiest and most aesthetically pleasing option.

In other areas I have cables that run along skirting boards, round multiple corners, behind water pipes, through narrow gaps and around door-jams. In these cases trying to get lengths of trucking to follow this route would be a major task on it own.

It would be nice to pin down a building reg that tells me what I ought to do before I decide what I'm actually going to do!

  • Just to confirm the word conduit. In the US it is full round tubes/pipes that wires are placed in. Is this your conduit or you mean half round covers over the wires? In the US it is recommended to use separate wires instead of cable in conduit(easier to pull).
    – crip659
    Jul 14, 2023 at 12:17
  • Do you mean trunking, rather than conduit? Jul 14, 2023 at 12:19
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    Web sources? Why not read the regs themselves...
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 14, 2023 at 12:43
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    If you're redecorating, now is the perfect time to put it behind skirting rather than along it, if you don't want to lift the floors. [I presume we're talking low-voltage, ethernet, LED strips etc, not mains.]
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 14, 2023 at 15:11
  • @crip659 in the UK in homes with solid walls it is common (though ugly) to run NM cable (not loose wires) in plastic trunks/gutters on the surface. OP is just asking in what circumstances cable can be run on the surface without the trunking.
    – jay613
    Jul 15, 2023 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


It's legal to use trunking such as your link for surface-mounted indoor mains. Don't trust the sticky stuff on the back to be permanent, though, screw it every yard or so too.

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I wouldn't use standard cable clips anywhere the cabling is visible - & I doubt a cupboard back would take the nails anyway; they're usually just hardboard.

However, as you're decorating, now would be the perfect opportunity to put all you can behind skirtings, not along the front, assuming lifting the floors is not an option.
However, though legal and becomes caveat emptor for any future owner or DIYer to find cables you have put in non-standard locations, no amount of plastic trunking or conduit will prevent careless drilling or nailing.
And just to note, you're not allowed to put sockets on the skirting, they must go in the wall itself, in a steel back-box.
[I think there's a difference in this if the circuit is considered temporary, we used to surface mount sockets in retail stores; but a) they were considered temporary & b) we weren't always mounting to what you would traditionally consider a wall… and a late c) in retail everything has to be considerably stronger & harder to break than in domestic. If anyone did manage to pry our socket off the wall (you'd be amazed what people will do), at least they still couldn't get their fingers inside it]

Another thing to take into account. Running mains round at floor level is also the location you're most likely to have TV/HiFi cabling & it's never wise to run signal & mains within a couple of feet of each other or in parallel. If your HiFi develops a hum afterwards… that will be why.

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    "HiFi"? Is that term still in common use in the UK? I haven't heard that term in the US in ages! While I don't know UK code, everything you've said certainly passes the common sense test, so you get my +1.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 15, 2023 at 12:01
  • @FreeMan - I guess it's still in use as a generic catch-all term, & we still have the magazine, since the 70s, What HiFi. tbh as a generalisation, I wouldn't actually know what term to replace it with.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 15, 2023 at 13:12
  • Here in the US, most call it a "stereo", though the hip kids seem to refer to just a "system"... </off-topic wander>
    – FreeMan
    Jul 15, 2023 at 13:26
  • I'm old enough to remember when people first started calling it a stereo, to differentiate from mono, but that was the 60's, even before HiFi became a term.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 15, 2023 at 13:29
  • @FreeMan Still have my parents HiFi console/cabinet. Think it was when I was around five that my parents got me out of bed to fix it. Needle needed replacing or something simple. It still is too heavy for me to move around. Should see if it still plays the 78s.
    – crip659
    Jul 15, 2023 at 18:48

The most common cable for house wiring in the UK is "twin and earth". That's insulated and sheathed, and designed to take a moderate amount of knocks. So it's fine to run it surface clipped in most places. But conduit or trunking may be needed if there's a serious risk of impact damage.

"Singles" - single insulated single wires must be in some form of containment.

If running cables across a ceiling in a route that might be needed as a fire escape, make sure your clips are fire resistant.

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