What colour do I paint my skirting boards and architraves?

Skirting boards and architraves are often given the least thought – they are in fact an after-thought but the colour and tone that you use here can make or break your colour scheme.  I have some guidelines and tips to help you to decide the right colour for your look.

What do I paint my skirting boards and architraves
Image: White and Gold Design

Skirting Boards and Architraves are the link between rooms

Often people will just use one white or neutral to go through their house which works well – particularly if you are simply using a crisp white which won't really change much.

Sometimes though a house can benefit from different tones of a white or neutral if the aspects of the rooms are vastly different.  For example a darker, south facing room without much natural light may benefit from quite a different tone to a bright sun-drenched north west facing room.

A soft neutral or white will appear quite different depending on the room that you use it in.  This isn't necessarily wrong but you need to double-check that you like the effect.

I always recommend painting a large board with two coats of your chosen colour and then move it around the house, viewing in daylight and at night time with artificial light.  This may seem like an onerous task but nowhere near as much work as re-painting a room!

You may also choose to paint different colours in rooms thoughout your home.  I have used a dark grey in my living room, a mid grey in my kitchen and then an off-white in my dining room.  They all flow into one so I had to ensure the colours worked together.

What helps to make it work though is that I have one trim colour for my skirting boards and architraves that I take throughout the house.  This colour becomes my link for the scheme and helps to make the colour palette flow.

What do I paint my skirting boards and architraves
Image: Bo Bedre

This image above is the perfect example of adjoining rooms with different colours/tones/wallpaper which works because you have a definite white connecting trim colour.

I have written an article about using white trim on exteriors which is relevant to interiors too.

Related: Why I love a crisp white trim

Usually you would also use the chosen colour for your skirting boards and architraves on the internal doors – unless you have beautiful timber doors which you want to keep – and you can also link it to other accent areas like shelving, bookcases and kitchen cabinets.

Alternatively, you can use your internal doors to make a colour statement.  Gone are the days when we choose an entire wall and paint it another colour, you need to think differently about how you introduce colour and this image below shows you how successful this idea can be.  Skirting boards and architraves are white to match the walls while all the doors, including the external one is a gorgeous blue.

What colour do I paint my skirting boards and architraves
Image: Sarah Richardson Design

If you have powdercoated windows then you can't change these but if you have timber ones you can choose to paint them the same or highlight them.  Generally they would be painted the same but you can make a real statement by painting the frames a different colour – just ensure you have nice windows as you will be drawing attention to them!

What do I paint my skirting boards and architraves
Image: Domaine Home

This is the perfect example of a linking white trim with a soft neutral on the walls and black window and door frames – I think this combination, highlighting these beautiful windows, is terrific.

Which colour to use?

The colour that springs to mind for your trim is usually a white.  Contemporary decorating generally sees us painting our skirting boards and architraves a white as in the image below.  If you have white walls you can use an even brighter white or the same white in a different finish to your walls.

What colour do I paint my skirting boards and architraves
Image: Hinkley Lighting

This doesn't have to be the case though as you can create quite a different and I think, stunning, effect by painting the trim colours a darker tone.  This could be a soft grey and could also be used as the accent colour through your house for internal doors, cabinetry etc.

What do I paint my skirting boards and architraves
Image: Tom House

In the image above the designer has used a soft grey for the skirting boards, architraves and the ceiling cornice.  I really like this effect as it means you can have a simple white wall without the rooms being too plain.  This of course works particularly well in a period style house.  As the designer has used dark shutters, they have painted the architrave around the window to match which prevents the look from becoming too busy.

Related: Manipulating a space with colour – colour lesson 5

If you are a wallpaper fan you can tie your skirting boards and architraves into the wallpaper colours.  This works best though if you keep this colour scheme throughout the house, even if the other rooms are a soft grey, neutral or white on the walls.  Alternatively you can decide on a convenient place to stop and switch to a more neutral trim – find an area where the whole scheme is not on show – perhaps a turning into a hallway.

What colour should I paint my skirting boards and architraves
Image: Little Greene Paint and Paper

My tips for painting skirting boards and architraves

  1. If you are using a white or pale neutral on your walls then use a half strength or for more contrast, a quarter strength of the wall colour for the trim.  My general rule is full on wall, half on trim and quarter on ceiling and cornice.
  2. If you are using a crisp white on your walls you can simply use the same white on your trim.  As trim paint should be a little more durable – or a lot more durable depending on children/dogs/tricycles used inside! – the finish will be different and therefore you will get a slight variation as the light will reflect differently.
  3. If you are using a darker neutral on your walls you will need to look at the undertone to find the correct white to go with it.  Remember that there are cool whites and warm whites as there are warm and cool neutrals – greige, beige, stone and grey colours.
  4. If you have a white kitchen or are planning one, then use the same white as your trim white.  This keeps things really simple and ensures that the kitchen cabinets and the skirting boards and architraves will both work with the wall colour.
  5. If you would like to introduce a neutral into your colour scheme but like the idea of keeping the walls a very light colour or a white then consider using this for your trim colour.  This can be a dominant choice though so ensure you like it through all your rooms.
  6. You can either paint your internal doors the same as your trim colour or have something different.  If you have beautiful timber doors and window frames that you don't want to paint then you can leave these and just paint the architraves.
  7. Although wherever possible you should use your trim colour to link the colour palette throughout the house you can make exceptions, for example if you have dark shutters on a window and you want the architraves to blend in.
  8. Always consider the effect that you will achieve if you have a strong contrast – white trims on a dark wall or as below dark trim on a white wall.  The effect can be stunning but you need to ensure that you will like it!

What do I paint my skirting boards and architraves

I hope that this has helped you to make the right decision for your next painting scheme.  Don't forget, as always, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

What colour do I paint my skirting boards and architraves




32 thoughts on “What colour do I paint my skirting boards and architraves?

  1. Avatar
    Caren says:

    Thanks for the trim advice. I am now taking on my long neglected 80’s dark kitchen. Will be repainting 80’s oak cabinets. I will now use the same white throughout with a glossier one on the trim than the walls.
    In the US we don’t use the terms half or quarter strength paint. What does it mean?

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Caren – sorry I missed this one in the mix! It will work to use one white in different strengths. Many whites and neutrals in Australia are marketed as quarter and half strength of an original and it basically means that you get a white and knock it back by half and then half again so you keep the same undertone – creamy yellow, neutral green, cool blue etc but by doing a half strength of it, the white has less yellow, green, blue etc. A good paint mixer in the US would be able to achieve that with a white or neutral that you choose – you just have to find someone who knows their stuff! Hope you love your new look kitchen – I am sure it will be a great lift to your interior scheme Good luck Samantha

  2. Avatar
    Karina says:

    Thank you, Samantha, for wonderful ideas. We are planning on buying our first home and since we hardly ever like the existing interiors we would probably end up doing the whole house up.
    I became a big fan of your blog as it beautifully incorporates so many styles. Now I feel more knowledgeable and confident about creating a unique interior for the home of our own.

  3. Avatar
    Carol Duckworth says:

    Hi Samantha, virgin renovators here and we are turning a double garage into a outdoor living area Hampton style. We have put oak coloured laminate flooring down (throws slight grey tones). One wall is all windows/door (easy part!), opposite wall has 2 very large windows with red brick surround (about 30 – 40cm wide). One wall is all red brick but will be covered by a floor to ceiling entertainment unit that i am painting in white Chalk paint. The opposite brick wall we have plastered and painted in Dulux Milton Moon. My dilemma is what colour do i paint on the standard height ceiling and cornice? The painted wall will also have skirting board, do i paint that in a white or perhaps 1/4 strength Milton Moon? OMG the more i read the more confuzzled i get and doubt my decisions .. so I’m just looking at the room and doing nothing! I just want to get it right 🙂 The two main windows I’m thinking of white wooden verticals. Would appreciate any advice, how lucky we are you chose to come Down Under, thanks so much, Carol 🙂

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Carol This sounds much nicer than a garage! Basically with a Hamptons Style you need to use lots of white trim. If you look at the white that you are painting the entertainment unit in, then match your other whites to this. The whites available in Chalk paint will be different depending on which company you are using. But I would use the same white for the ceiling, cornice, skirting boards and architraves. If you have a choice for your chalk paint, use a nice crisp white as the Milton Moon is a cool grey. Hope this gets you started and that you love your new room! Samantha

  4. Avatar
    Sue says:

    Hi Samantha,
    I am looking to repaint our whole house but I’m finding it extremely difficult to find a nice window trim for the Aluminum window color which is Stone Beige. All of my furniture is timber colored and I wanted to do a light trim with a darker wall but I want to shy away from browns.. Any tips you could give me please?? Would love white but its does my head in seeing white trim and beige window frames…

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Sue Ideally you would find a wall colour you like and then have the trim a couple of tones lighter but all the colours that tie in with Stone Beige will end up a brown once they are a bit darker. Perhaps look at something like Dulux White Beach or White Beach half which are whites with some depth that could work with Stone Beige and just have a subtle change for the wall. You could also consider introducing some simple sheers to hide the frames or drapes pushed back that at least hide the edges of the window frame so that you don’t notice them as mush. Hope this helps! Samantha

  5. Avatar
    Ruby says:

    Hi Samantha,
    We are planning to do our lounge in Dulux Fine Cream, just to take the edge of a stark white And help it flow with decor. We currently love the crisp white of the door frames and skirts, but I’m worried that the cream is too pale to create a palatable contrast between it and a white gloss. Unsure whether to then use the same cream in the gloss, but this won’t match the white upvc window frames, so just really stuck… the doors are a beautiful which look lovely against the crisp white, but just not sure it all ties together. What do you think? I am in the UK and haven’t come across half strengths either.

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Ruby I think I would match the window architraves to the white of your doors and skirting boards so that it doesn’t make a feature of the upvc windows. If you visit a good paint store and ask them about Dulux Fine Cream they would be able to mix a colour which would be slightly darker for your walls. The store should have the recipe for the paint and a good technician should be able to help you to make it just a touch darker if you feel you need more contrast. It is always tricky though as you would have to order a minimum of a paint tin and then you may not like the colour! Alternatively ask their opinion for a colour that is just a touch darker. It will depend on the amount of light that you receive in the room too as to how much contrast you will see. I’m sorry that I don’t know more about this colour – I don’t have the English Dulux paint charts but hopefully this has helped you. Good luck Samantha

  6. Avatar
    Janice Merriman says:

    Hi I’m wanting to paint the hallway of our Edwardian house it has a mahogany dado rail and up the wall of stairs also a beige skirting board could you advice me what couloir to paint upper and lower walls many thanks

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Janice If you want a traditional look then you can paint the lower part of the wall in a darker colour and the upper lighter. Or a slightly more contemporary look would be to paint it all one colour and whichever way you go you will need to take your lead from the beige skirting board. See if you can see the underlying colour – is it more yellow or green or brown etc. as any wall colour you select must relate to that. Good luck Samantha

  7. Avatar
    Raj says:

    Hi , i have a question about to go for Varnish or white for my architraves and skirting. i have a yellow colour painted wall, white coving and white ceiling. my doors would be oak wood colour. should i paint my architraves and skirting white white or varnish to give more wood colour. i have a walnult colour laminated flooring. please advise. thanks.

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Raj If you match your architraves to your door then you introduce more of this timber colour into the scheme and you need to ensure that you like it next to the yellow wall. If you feel it is blending in too much then a white architrave may be a good break between the two yellow colours – the wall and the oak doors. A white trim will also help to make a feature of your doors. Hope this helps – perhaps just get some white paper and wrap it around the architrave to get an idea of the effect between the door and wall before committing as it is hard to come back from! Good luck Samantha

  8. Avatar
    Debbie says:

    Hi really enjoyed reading your tips I’m doing up my house was planning on painting walls crisp white with black skirting and door frames as well as picture rails but after reading I’m rethinking of leaving picture rails the white and just doing windows and door frames and skirting

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Debbie I think this is a good idea to leave the picture rails. You get a more contemporary look this way – good luck Samantha

  9. Avatar
    Kathryn says:

    Thank you for this post, I really enjoyed reading it. We have just bought a 1930s house with lots of jarrah: floors, windows, doors, cabinetary, skirting and architraves. I wanted to paint them all white (it’s quite a dark house), but the windows and doors are really beautiful. After reading this, I think I will leave the doors and windows jarrah to start with, and see whether painting the architraves and skirting is enough to lighten the house. Thanks!

  10. Avatar
    C Davey says:

    I have dark brown powder coated windows and dark stained wood architraves, with a cream colored walls. I would like to paint the architraves a lighter color as the house looks very dark, but I am unsure how that would go with the brown windows. Any suggestions?

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      You already have the contrast of the cream walls next to the dark stained architraves so by lightening these you will just have a smaller dark brown trim which won’t be so dominant in the room. If you use the same colour as the walls you will keep a streamlined effect. Try painting some soft card with the cream and bend it around the architrave to see if you like the effect. Good luck Samantha

  11. Avatar
    Mr. Ian Vickers says:

    Hello Samantha, this is such a wounderfully informative website, thank you! Do you recommend Gloss or Semi Gloss for skirting boards and architraves and doors?

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Ian Thanks for your kind words. I am just writing a post on paint finishes so this is very timely. To quickly answer your question, I usually prefer a semi-gloss just because I like more matt finishes. However you need to consider the other finishes in your house too. The higher the gloss level of a paint, the more light it will bounce around so if you are using a very dark colour, this will become lighter as you increase the gloss level. A gloss paint also shows more imperfections so your timber must be flawless if you increase the gloss. Increased durability comes with a higher gloss level. Hope this has helped and look out this week for my new post. Good luck Samantha

  12. Avatar
    Ian Vickers says:

    Thank you Samantha, I will be using lighter coloured walls and white for the trims with darker flooring and doors. Semi-gloss it is. I eagerly await your next post.

  13. Avatar
    Kerri says:

    Hi Samantha. We are painting a house prob built in the 80’s that is reasonably lit in kitchen dining but isn’t overly well lit in lounge areas. I am thinking a warm colour – maybe Antique White or Hog Bristle 1/4 for walls but am not sure about trims and skirts. Floors are a warm honey oak. Husband is all for darker trims for practicality (2 boys on a farm) but I wonder if lighter shade for trims would accentuate the walls? Currently they are wood (not a nice wood) and there are a lot of sliding wood doors throughout – heaps of cupboard space but how to paint? Very confused!

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Kerri I think that the finish you choose rather than the colour will have a lot more to do with the durability of the trim. A light shade will certainly give a lift to the creamy walls and work better with the oak flooring and will help to maintain a lighter airier look in rooms that are challenged with natural light. If you like some of your timber doors you can keep them as timber for a feature and just paint your skirting boards and architraves. Therefore consider the finish. I have a new post just put up last week about which paint finish to use. The glossier you go, the easier it is to clean and will be more durable. Often people opt for a semi-gloss finish so that they get some good durability but with not too high a sheen level. Hope this has brought some clarity! Samantha

  14. Avatar
    Agnes says:

    Love this article. We are painting our walls inside white 🤔 still have to decide which one. The front of our house is a federation style 1920 cottage with high skirting boards , nice archway and a fireplace I want to paint white, do I use a different white to set these off? Thank you for your timr

  15. Avatar
    Noman Mall says:

    Hi Samantha, Thanks for your wonderful tips. We are currently painting the inside of our house. We are going with flat white color for the ceiling and the Resene Quarter Tea on the Walls. We have decorative cornice around the ceiling edges. I was wondering if the cornice is usually the same ‘flat color’ as the ceiling or can that be the same color as ceiling but maybe semi gloss as appose to flat? Also I was thinking ‘gloss finish’ for the door architraves, your thought?

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Norman glad you’re enjoying the tips on my blog. The cornice is always treated the same as the ceiling so should be in the same colour and matt finish. The reason for matt finishes on ceilings is because they reflect the least light and therefore don’t show minor imperfections so my recommendation is to keep it the same. In terms of your internal doors this is absolutely a personal choice and no right or wrong here. Gloss will reflect the most imperfections but will also be the hardest wearing finish. Good luck with the repainting! Samantha

  16. Avatar
    Rupiedupie says:

    Hi Samantha, this is a really helpful site. Hoping you can help me… we plan on painting the hallway skirting Architrave a dark grey with light grey on the walls. Would it look good to have white doors with the dark grey door frame? As if we paint the door and the frame dark grey in the hallway I’m stuck on how to paint the door that leads from hallway to living room (as the living room wall is stone and hence door frame and skirting will be stone, stone frame with dark grey door doesn’t work)

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      If you have a white door next to the dark frame you will really make a feature of it, much more so than if you match the door to the trim. It is really important if you have different wall colours in different rooms to find a connecting trim colour so it might be better to rethink your dark hallway trim? Samantha

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