Q. I live in a sympathetically restored 1858 cottage and am currently thinking about replacing the flooring in the sitting room with genuine reclaimed oak floorboards. My dilemma is that I have beautiful original high skirting boards which are in fine order. Should I lay the floor and adjust that to size or would it be better to take up the skirting and lay the oak boards underneath?
A. If you have sufficient skills and the right toolkit, by all means take up the skirting as fitting your flooring underneath will always provide the more professional finish. However, please be mindful that your internal walls behind the skirting are probably made up of old lath and plaster. This will be extremely crumbly and should you take off the skirting, you could be storing up all manner of problems when it is eased away from the wall, leaving you with an expensive and time-consuming re-plastering job which could lead you to have to re-size the presently perfectly fitting skirting boards. If you decide not to remove the skirting, you must allow a 10mm expansion gap around the perimeter and use a suitable beading or moulding to cover this gap. It is not an authentic finish by any means but less complicated than skirting removal.