Stair Baseboard Molding and Skirt Board: Getting Creative With It

Written by Milan Jara on 22nd Nov 2022

Baseboard Molding and Skirt Board

Want to add a bit of flair to your stairs? Consider adding a skirt board to these creative elements with stair baseboard molding.

The stairs are a featured element of any home and are often the most noticeable. Placing baseboards or stair skirts can highlight this feature and create depth. It provides a seamless, polished look to the room and can add that “wow” factor, depending on what you choose to incorporate. We discuss available choices in stair baseboard molding to see what works best for your house.

Stair Skirt Board: What Is It?

Stair Skirt Board

This wooden board covers the space between the bottom step of the stairs and the wall. It can also cover the top step as you go up to another floor. Different materials are used to create this trim type. However, experts recommend using solid wood as it is more durable.

Trim is available in two types. There is trim that runs along the stringer found on the outside of stairs as well as trim that runs between stairs and the inner wall adjacent to your stairs.

Why Is It Necessary?

Skirting board is inexpensive and easy to install. It protects the stairs while making them appear more professional, and it offers a protective element between carpeting and tile or hardwood flooring when placed outside. Skirting board prevents damage and protects the stairs against daily wear and tear.

If the stairs are inside, the skirting board provides separation between the stairs and the drywall. It gives a finished look and can hide gaps in finishing plus any imperfections on the edge of the stairs. Damage from water leaking into wall cavities is prevented, which can cause mold or rot as time progresses.

When Is It Best Not Installed?

When adding a stair trim or baseboard, the first thing to consider is whether the house contains trim. Adding trim to one area when it isn’t used anywhere else may cause it to look out of place. Nicely finished hardwood stairs can look equally great against some finished drywall without adding molding. Therefore, in this case, it is possible to provide visual value without using molding.

For floating stairs or open riser stairs, a stair skirt board will only look good when placed next to the steps. If they are floating, they can’t accommodate molding on stairs while still looking good. It just seems out of place.

For curved or spiral stairs, baseboard molding is not possible. If you try to, it can be highly complicated. To do it, you would require a flexible material like PVC to bend it around the design of the staircase.

Materials Used for Stair Baseboard Molding

The standard size of stair baseboard molding is 9.5” wide by 0.625” thick. The sizing is essential as it ensures the molding is a minimum of 1” to 1.5” above the steps’ nosing. The length depends on the stairs' run and rise and the baseboard's thickness. Materials to select from are:


PVC or vinyl is recommended if you have a spiral staircase since the material is flexible and you want to avoid moisture damage. Fortunately, this material does not have organic components. It will not permit mold or fungus to grow and can be pre-finished with white, so it doesn’t require painting. The only downside is that it may be difficult to bend and can be brittle. Therefore, it requires good installation and careful measurements.


MDF is a good choice since it is resistant to twisting and warping. However, it is not the most environmentally-friendly solution. It will emit a VOC indoors, making it harmful over prolonged exposure. It is also not terribly strong, making it challenging to finish or sand if damaged.


Softwood is more affordable than hardwood and ideal if you want to use paint or stain. It comes in fir or pine. Unfortunately, it tends to warp and bend over time. The solution is to use jointed pine boards, which are not common, and have them pre-primed.


Hardwood is the best option for the home as it is the strongest. It comes with a high price tag but is worth the investment as this material will last. You can easily repair any damage with refinishing and sanding. The most popular forms are cherry, oak, and walnut.

While hardwood doesn’t require much maintenance, it is quite a task to install. It is harder to cut, making the wood more challenging to deal with. Mistakes can be costly, so it is best to stick with a professional installation.

When Should You Add Stair Baseboard Molding?

Outline Baseboard Molding

Skirt boards can be outlined with baseboard molding to provide drama and a visually appealing design. Placing a skirt board already provides dimension, but adding molding complements the sharp staircase angle. It just adds a more decorative element to the stairs.

Molding can also be added when you place wainscoting or chair rails by the staircase as a smooth transition. The effects are stunning and elegant. It also provides additional dimensions to the area.

You can also use a natural wood accent to highlight the stairs and create depth. This adds contrast when paired with white. You can also add it at the end of the stairs to finish the look.

Taking a More Creative Approach

If you want to think outside the box, you can use stair baseboard molding as a vertical accent to make an area look even larger. They provide a parallel dimension that complements handrails for exquisitely designed staircases. Several molding variations close to the steps and across the ceiling offer an eye-catching geometric pattern.

Additionally, you can place it horizontally to create a shiplap wall. This trending design idea makes an area appear wider. It also pairs well with the sharp angles of staircases. When used together, it provides a calming sensation, making the room feel more structured, sophisticated, and lighter.

Here is where things become creative. You can also use stair baseboard molding to generate a geometric pattern by your staircase. It looks like art and is quite stunning. This works best when paired with a glass banister so people can view the design. It is excellent for minimalistic styles.

Final Thoughts

Stair baseboard molding isn’t just used to finish a staircase or as trim at the bottom or top of the stairs. It can also enhance stair skirting and be used in place of stair skirting if it is wide enough or for more creative applications.

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