Carpentry & Joinery Question

Skirting board nightmare!

my boyfriend is fitting new skirting boards in our house but they are not meeting flush at the angle joints so there is gaps between the wood- what is going wrong?! he is using a mitre saw and the trial runs when fitted to the wall fit at the top but not the bottom- are the Walls the problem or the boyfriend?! the cuts are straight and the angles 45. I think!

24 Answers

Best Answer


To be honest it's probably a combination of your boyfriend, the mitre saw, the wall not being flat(upright) and the skirting board being curled/cupped.

External mitres...

If the skirting is curled/cupped often the mitre cut looks curved, not square when it's cut...ditch it or if he is clever??? cut the mitre at a slight compound on the face (longer at the bottom of the cut so it's slightly out of square to compensate) by half what ever the gap measures where the joints don't meet...

If the skirting is ok....The wall may have a build up of plaster at skirting level (this pushes the bottom of the skirting off the wall and out of upright, which opens the joint at the bottom) which you have to either chop the plaster back or plane the back off the skirting so the face of skirting sits upright and the corners of the mitre come together.

Internal joints...

These should be scribed, not mitred, although the same things do apply. You can pack the bottom of the skirting so the joint comes together if the wall is hollow.

It's difficult to explain...but most times it's plaster on the wall, and curled skirting board that causes the're describing. Or a poorly adjusted mitre saw, needs recalibrating...wrong angle...

Hope this helps

Answered 10th Aug 2011

Rebel Carpenter

Member since 24 Sep 2008

Hello, will to me sounds like your walls are the problem, is it all of the corners are same?
if is it could be the mitre saw you're using! give it a try with a square - easiest way to find out if it walls or the mitre saw u are using!
And yes 45 degrees is correct and is what it should be.
And way not try to pack it up a bit here and there if is a little bit at the bottom only as you say ;) .
Hope this helps!
Kind regards,

Answered 11th Aug 2011


Member since 27 Jan 2011

Hi, the problem is the walls might not be square on the corners and the walls may not be plumb (straight). This means you have to cut the skirting a few mm longer on the corners and then plane to fit or remark and cut on the saw. Good luck

Answered 10th Aug 2011


Member since 4 Jul 2011

hi, skirts should be scribed not mitred internally as walls are seldom square , level or straight which will distort the angles.
so cut the first length square and fix to wall then scribe the next one to the profile of the one allready fitted, the simpliest way is to mitre the 2nd length as if mitring the corner then follow the line where the mitre cut meets the skirting, [a hand saw for the straight part and coping saw for shaped part work best], regards lance

Answered 10th Aug 2011

woodfloor carpenter

Member since 1 Feb 2009

sounds like both are the problem, cut and fix one piece then hold and mark the next piece then cut and fix.

Answered 10th Aug 2011

Gerald Francis Carpenter and joiner

Member since 8 Jan 2009

Corner is not 90 degrees. Also same problem when wall is not vertical .

Answered 10th Aug 2011


Member since 5 Dec 2009

Skirting boards are always difficult to acheive perfection. The internal joints should be scribed ie one piece is cut to profile of the other.wobbly walls and less than perfect boardl will conspire to make perfect jointing virtually impossible If ypu are painting then you can fill and caulk but I am afraid it takes experience and patience to do what seems to be a fairly simple job .Sorry there is no top tip or magic formula.

Answered 10th Aug 2011

Bates Carpentry and Building

Member since 23 Jun 2011

The skirting boards will require scribing.
If you butt one end of the skirting hard up against the wall with a straight 90 degree cut.
Cut the next piece with a 45 degree angle just as he was doing originally.
Cut out the timber/mdf exposed by the 45 degree cut, following the line of the cut.
Once removed this should butt up quite nicely.
If you are still seeing gaps,you can use a compass and small pencil to make the joint even tighter.....this is slighly harder to explain.
Once you have seen it done it all make sense.

Answered 10th Aug 2011

Clameg Construction Ltd

Member since 16 Jun 2008

No feedback

the wood could be bow,if skirting from bq or wicks it wout get flush with angle joint,to get best skirting from building mat or good timber yard

Answered 10th Aug 2011


Member since 6 Jan 2009

The problem is more than likely the walls.For a 45 degree mitre to fit perfectly the walls must be perfectly square and upright and the floor perfectly level.Unfortunately they very rarely are. You really need a combination mitre saw then you can adjust your mitre to suit each external cut.Alternately lots of filler will rectify.

Answered 10th Aug 2011

m w building construction and property maintenance

Member since 28 Sep 2008

firstly you need to check the wall angles as they may be out and not 45*.
slightly adjust the saw a fraction and then check. Best to use an off cut as small template.
Also make sure you cut the skirting laying flat and not upright.

Lastly it is very important you use a professional chop saw as cheaper brand saws do tend to cut off line.

hope this is of some help to you.

Good luck and all the best.

Answered 10th Aug 2011

pa build uk

Member since 3 Aug 2009

Sounds like he has the skirting board on the floor and the other end on the mitre saw giving you an angle, yes he is cutting at 45deg , but the skirt has to be level with the mitre block, prop up the other end and try that!!

Answered 10th Aug 2011

Pro Finishing Services

Member since 12 Jan 2010

Hi.what paton is skirtingboards?you need do scribe joint that will give perfect finish. If you stuck wach YouTube how to do skirting scribe joints

Answered 11th Aug 2011


Member since 9 Mar 2009

The corners at 45 degrees are right only if walls are square on corners and vertical. If wall or plaster on wall not vertical, mitres will not meet. On a mitre saw you will have to move anles to suit. If boyfriend not a carpenter , im not suprised he is having trouble. It is not as easy as it looks. Hire a good carpenter here on My Builder.



Answered 10th Aug 2011

WoodenItBeGood Carpentry

Member since 23 Nov 2009

Although the cuts are uniform when using the mitre saw. Unfortunately a common problem when fitting skirting is usually a combination of the eisting plaster finish being slightly curved and not flat, and/or the skirting board (timber) being slightly cupped across the grain, all of which can turn a perfectly good mitre into a complete disaster. Use an angle finder first to establish the acuracy of the existing internal or external corners of the plaster work. Then adjust your mitre saw to suit this angle. Internal angles can usually be corrected easily if you scribe the joint of the two boards, rather than just cut a straight mitre on the saw.
Good luck

Answered 11th Aug 2011

NLC Carpentry & Joinery

Member since 2 Jul 2011


There could be a number of problems ,
1: The wall corner is not plumb,
2: The angle on the corner is not square at 90 degrees.
3: The plaster on the walls is not plumb causeing the skirting to kick out and not sit flat against the wall.
4: The chop saw your you bf is using may not be 100% correct on the angle settings or the guard rail is not straight.
5: The skiting itself could have a bow in it and not be flat.
6 The floor level may not be level.

Eliminate any of these problems and you should be able to get your mitre correct ,

Good luck.
RCV Carpentry

Answered 26th May 2016

RCV Carpentry

Member since 24 May 2016

Hi, it is possibly both the walls and the boyfriend if he only a novice at that kind of work, realy you should get someone in to do the skirts for you or you with either run out of skirting keep trying or end up using filler to fill the gaps, but that only shrinks and cracks in time. Stuart from SMS Maintence Services.

Answered 10th Aug 2011


Member since 20 Jun 2011

not all walls are straight thus requiring more or less of an angle ,rule of thumb very rarely does a 45 mitre meet on old walls ,get the proper tool to measure the angle of the cut

Answered 10th Aug 2011


Member since 7 Jun 2008

Fitting skirtings is a tricky business. If all external wall angles were exactly 90 degrees it would be easy. Unfortunately very few are. I usually check the corners with 2 small pieces of skirting and adjust the mitre saw to suit. Also check the bottom of the wall, if the plaster is kicking the skirting out this will cause problems with your mitres so a good deal of hammer and bolster work is very often required.
Be patient take your time to get them right and use plenty of glue and you will end up with perfect mitres every time.

Answered 10th Aug 2011

Mark Pratten Carpentry & Joinery

Member since 4 Sep 2008

an internal angle is mitred then you cut out the contour shape,you do that to both pieces. external angles are mitred,better using a set square and saw.

Answered 10th Aug 2011

21st century building and maintenance ltd

Member since 8 Aug 2011

it could be that the plastering at the bottom of the wall is thicker this can happen or it could be catching on the bit of plaster the best thing to do is look for any problem spots and chisel them off. It could be the skirtingboard you are joining to is not cut straight or at a different angle in this case you will need to adjust the cut on your skirtingboard to fit this can be done with a small block plane as doing it with a saw means you will use up more timber this may take time but you should be able to get a paper thin joint.

Answered 10th Aug 2011

J.Priest Carpentry & Joinery

Member since 14 May 2011


The best way to fit skirting boards into corners is to scribe the joints rather than to use a mitre cut.

To do this sucessfully fit the first board into the corner with a square cut end, then offer up the board that is to fit into the first board and scrbe the pattern of the skirting onto the face of the second board rhen cut along this line with a coping saw, the two boards should now fit together in the corner with no gaps.

This method is only suitable for internal corners.

Hope this helps

Answered 10th Aug 2011


Member since 19 Apr 2011

I agree with TSH Builders, I was taught to scribe skirting boards and not mitre.

Answered 6th Jan 2015

John's Property Maintenance Services

Member since 15 Oct 2014

It could be a combination of things. Such as the quality of your mitre saw, skill level of the carpenter and condition of the wall, skirting and floor. For example the wall not being flat and plumb or the skirting board could have timber defects and could be cupped, warped or twisted. You might find a scribe joint would work alot better in some circumstances, but mitre joints should always be first choice as they have a bigger glue contact surface area.

Answered 12th Jan 2018

Tom O'Byrne

Member since 30 Nov 2017

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