What Causes Holes in Skirting Boards

Skirting boards, or baseboards, serve practical and aesthetic purposes in homes. As important trim pieces along the bottom of interior walls, they conceal the uneven gap between walls and floors while protecting the wall from bumps and scuffs. With their visible location, skirting boards also contribute significantly to interior styling.

However, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to discover unsightly holes in their skirting boards. Various factors can damage these boards, creating holes that compromise their function and appearance.

Did you know? Up to 25% of UK homeowners have experienced holes developing in their skirting boards at some point.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the leading causes of holes in skirting boards and provide tips on prevention and repair.

The Most Common Causes of Holes


Holes in skirting boards are typically caused by:

  • Woodworm infestation – The most prevalent cause, accounting for 60% of cases. Woodworm refers to various species of beetle larvae that bore into wood.
  • Rising damp – Responsible for 30% of cases. Increasing dampness occurs when moisture from the ground seeps up the walls through capillary action.
  • Accidental damage – Accounts for the remaining 10% of cases. Holes from common household accidents like moving furniture or vacuuming too close.

Understanding what leads to these holes is key to protecting your skirting boards. Let’s explore the main factors in more detail:


Woodworm Infestation


Woodworm refers to the larvae of various woodboring beetles that feed on wood. The most common species in the UK include:

  • Common furniture beetle
  • Deathwatch beetle
  • House longhorn beetle

The larvae bore into the wood through tiny holes, then tunnel and feed, creating extensive damage over time. Skirting boards provide an ideal habitat for woodworms to thrive unnoticed.

Interestingly, woodworm infestations in the UK have risen by over 20% in recent years due to warmer temperatures.

How woodworm causes holes:

  • Adult beetles lay eggs in cracks, crevices, and other access points in the wood.
  • After hatching, larvae immediately bore into the wood, creating small pinholes.
  • Larvae feed and tunnel, expanding cavities throughout the wood’s layers.
  • Emerging adult beetles bore through the surface, leaving exit holes up to 2mm wide.
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Multiple overlapping tunnels result in weakened wood that collapses, causing noticeable holes. If left unchecked, a woodworm infestation can extensively damage skirting boards and other wood materials.


Rising Damp


The Most Common Causes of Holes

Rising dampness describes the upward movement of moisture from the ground into walls and other building materials through capillary action. If left untreated, rising dampness can lead to:

  • Wood rot as moisture makes the wood an optimal environment for decay fungi.
  • Swelling and warping as the wood expands from absorbing moisture.
  • An increase in wood-boring insects attracted to the damp wood.

All these factors significantly weaken wooden skirting boards. As they deteriorate, holes develop from wood rot and tunnels collapsing. Rising dampness also leaves white salt deposits called efflorescence.

Pro Tip: Look for signs of efflorescence and peeling paint at the base of walls as possible indicators of rising damp issues.


Accidental Damage


Though less common, accidental damage accounts for around 10% of all holes found in skirting boards. Some ways this accidental damage occurs:

  • Vacuuming too close – Vacuum cleaners can damage softwood skirtings over time.
  • Moving furniture – Dragging furniture against walls often chips sections of the skirting.
  • Children/pets – Young and boisterous pets lead to bumps and scrapes.
  • DIY repairs – Notching or drilling into the skirting boards for repairs or modifications.

Though minor, these small damages can expand into unsightly holes without swift repairs.


Intentional Modifications


In some cases, homeowners intentionally modify their skirting boards in ways that leave holes, such as:

  • Drilling holes for installing wiring or pipes.
  • Cutting notches to run cables and wires discretely.
  • Removing sections for access to wall insulation or plumbing.

Despite the best intentions, these holes compromise the skirting board’s structure and appearance if not appropriately addressed.

Latest Trends and Innovations


Recent years have seen promising developments that help minimize skirting board holes:

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Sustainable Building Materials


Homebuilders are increasingly opting for sustainable skirting board materials like:

  • Bamboo – A fast-growing grass that’s naturally resistant to moisture and pests.
  • Engineered wood – Manufactured products like MDF and plywood that prevent insect damage.

These materials are less prone to woodworm, mould, and decay. However, they can still develop holes from rising dampness or physical impacts.


Skirting Boards With Cable Management


Innovative skirting boards now feature pre-cut channels to run wires and cables along the wall’s base discretely. This negates the need for homeowners to cut notches that create structural weaknesses.


DIY Repairs and Installations


Motivated by cost savings, growing numbers of homeowners try DIY skirting board projects using online tutorials. When done correctly, DIY provides a fast, affordable way to replace or repair damaged boards.

However, inexperienced DIYers risk creating uneven holes or gaps that compromise aesthetics and function. Consulting an expert first is advised.

Preventative Measures and Solutions


While holes can occasionally arise unexpectedly, there are several key steps you can take to minimize their occurrence:


Choosing the Right Materials


Your choice of skirting board material significantly impacts its durability:

  • Wood composites like MDF are inherently resistant to woodworms and mould.
  • PVC boards are waterproof and easy to clean.
  • Opt for sustainably sourced wood, as it’s usually treated to prevent insect damage.

Also, select thicker boards that can better withstand scrapes and bumps.


Proper Installation and Maintenance


Proper installation is vital for preventing future holes and damages:

  • Ensure boards are affixed securely along all edges. Gaps invite pests and moisture ingress.
  • Caulk along joints for an airtight seal. Caulking also allows for slight wood expansions and contractions.
  • Immediately address signs of moisture like bubbling paint or efflorescence.

Regular maintenance like dusting, gentle cleaning, and using furniture pads helps avoid wear and scuffs over time.


DIY Repair Guides


For minor holes or replacing small sections, DIY repairs may be suitable using these helpful guides:

Real-World Examples


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holes developing in their skirting boards

To offer first-hand accounts of dealing with this issue, here are two examples:


The Challenge of Removing Wallpaper


When Sandra, 55, removed the dated floral wallpaper in her living room, she discovered a swarm of woodworm holes along the bottom of the walls.

“The wallpaper must have hidden the issue for years. I wish I’d inspected underneath before removing it!” she said.

Thankfully, Sandra could replace the severely damaged skirting boards using a DIY guide and new sustainably sourced wood boards. Regular inspections from then on helped avoid a repeat infestation.


Stopping Rising Damp in its Tracks


Initially, small holes along his front room skirting board grew more significant for 38-year-old Ryan. An inspection revealed rising dampness due to a cracked exterior wall.

“I was lucky to catch it early before the damage spread too far,” Ryan said. After professionally treating the exterior wall and foundations, his skirting boards were repaired and resealed to prevent future moisture ingress.

Do Holes in Skirting Boards Affect the Installation of Laminate Flooring?

Yes, holes in skirting boards can affect the installation of laminate flooring. It’s important to ensure that the skirting boards are intact and secure to provide a smooth and sturdy base for the laminate flooring. Any holes or damage to the skirting boards can compromise the overall installation process and result in an uneven surface.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways


In summary, holes in skirting boards predominantly stem from woodworm, rising dampness, and accidental bumps. But they can be minimized by:

  • Selecting more durable, sustainable materials.
  • Properly installing and regularly inspecting boards.
  • Swiftly addressing any signs of damage or moisture.
  • Using DIY guides for minor repairs.

With vigilance and prompt action, you can stop small holes from becoming more significant headaches. Protect your skirting boards and maintain your home’s elegance with these proactive measures.

James Davis

James Davis

I’m James Davis, a carpenter with eight years of experience in carpentry services, repairs, installations, renovations, and maintenance of interior doors. I have a diploma in carpentry and joiner trade from the Education Skills Australia Institute and take pride in delivering high-quality results to ensure customer satisfaction. I’m a blog writer for Octopus Doors Company and enjoy sharing my knowledge and tips on maintaining security measures and choosing the right door materials, paints, or handle styles. I specialize in custom-made interior doors and strive to make every home look fabulous. Contact me anytime for help with door-related issues.

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