A stair skirt board is essentially a long, continuous line of trimming that runs along the wall on the side where the stairs and the wall meet each other. It’s most often used to create a smooth transition between your stairs and any baseboard you might have surrounding the stairs. However, if you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional stair skirt board, there are several options to choose from.

Here are 5 stair skirt board alternatives:

  1. Ornamental molding or trimming
  2. Quarter round molding
  3. No skirt board at all
  4. Vinyl strips
  5. Baseboard trimming

Stair skirt boards create a more cohesive design when transitioning from the first to the second floor. They frequently consist of long wooden boards placed up the wall, almost “guiding” the stairs as they increase in height. The rest of this article will examine more closely the above alternatives for a stair skirt board, as well as the following:

  • What the substitute skirt board material consists of
  • What purpose it may serve
  • Why it’s a good choice for a skirt board alternative

1. Ornamental Molding or Trimming

One of the most common substitutes for a stair skirt board is ornamental molding or trimming.

This type of molding is a strip of material that’s used to conceal the transition between the ceiling and the wall or the wall and the floor. It creates a smoother changeover across various surfaces in many homes.

One of the reasons you may choose to use a decorative form of molding or trimming is that if your stairs are already affixed to your wall, you can avoid cutting or moving any of the material already in place. The decorative molding or trimming will be placed directly onto the wall, attempting to conceal the transition between your staircase and its adjacent wall.

This will give your stairs the appearance of a skirt board without having to complete all the physical work that comes with adding one. To use ornamental molding or trimming as a substitute for a skirt board, you’ll need to use several inches of material and affix it to the point above the stairs.

You can easily paint the molding or trimming to match the wood stain or color of your stairs, which is far easier than attempting to find a stair skirt board that is a close color match for the wood of your stairs.

2. Quarter Round Molding

Another potential substitute for a stair skirt board is quarter round. This type of molding or trimming is a type that’s typically paired with baseboards.

It’s used in many homes to ease the transitions, cover any gaps between wood flooring or tile and the wall, and hide any existing blemishes on the lower part of the wall that may be present. It looks like a typical baseboard but has the crucial detail of a piece of wood in the shape of an ellipse at the bottom exactly where the board meets the floor.

You might want to consider using quarter round as an alternative for a standard stair skirt board because it has a very simple and sleek look compared to other types of decorative molding or trimming.

In order to use a quarter round as an alternative to the stair skirt board, you’ll need to place the round down the tread and riser of the stairs. Doing so will prevent you from having to make any unnecessary cuts or slits if you were to place the quarter round on the entire side face of the steps.

3. No Skirt Board at All

As simple as it might sound, a perfectly acceptable replacement for a typical stair skirt board is to use no skirt board at all. As previously described, this type of molding is decorative, and it is not essential to the integrity of your staircase.

However, this alternate option is usually only possible in certain conditions, such as if you have floating stairs. Floating stairs are a design in which the stairs aren’t attached to the wall or to each other; rather, only the flat part of the actual step is present, usually held together by cables of some sort.

If you have floating stairs, you’ll want to avoid adding a stair skirt board. Another reason to consider omitting them might be because you don’t have baseboard trim, moldings, or crown moldings anywhere else in your home.

If this is the case, it might appear as an odd design choice to suddenly add this accent in the specific area of your staircase wall.

You might also opt for skipping a stair skirt board if you already have hardwood treads installed along the side of your stairs. If you have hardwood treads on the side of your stairs, you can easily match this to the steps by using either wood stain or paint. If your stairs meet the right qualifications, this option will save you both time and money on a stair skirt board.

You should be aware, though, that skipping a stair skirt leaves the potential for gaps between the stairs and the wall on its side, so make sure there’s no distinguishable opening or imperfections present. You want the transition between your stairs and the wall to be as seamless and indiscernible as possible.

Also, keep in mind that installing a skirt board itself or attempting to affix an alternative to any near your stairs wall requires prior knowledge of carpentry and craftsmanship skills. So, if you’re not absolutely confident of your contracting abilities, you might want to skip this home improvement project altogether.

4. Vinyl Strips

Another incredibly easy option for a proxy stair skirt board is using vinyl strips along the side in the same place where the stair skirt board would have been installed.

It’s a viable alternative for a stair skirt board because it has a sleek and smooth look and finishes similar to a quarter round molding. You can also install them just like ornamental or decorative trimming or molding.

You might want to use vinyl stripping as a substitute for a classic stair skirt board because this type of material is usually far cheaper than trying to match your wood-finished staircase with a similar shade of wood for a skirt board. Vinyl stripping also opens the possibility for you to add a design or pattern to your staircase as an accent piece or a pop of color. 

5. Baseboard Trimming

Finally, the last common substitute that you might want to use for a traditional stair skirt board is baseboard trimming. Similar to ornamental, decorative, or accent trimming, the baseboard is a sheet of long wood that runs along the base of walls in many homes. It’s similar to quarter round but lacks the elliptical shape at the top or bottom. 

It’s typically white or cream in color and is used to conceal any gaps between the flooring and the wall. Baseboard also functions as a protective layer to prevent the bottom section of your walls from becoming marked or scuffed.

A regular baseboard is a perfectly acceptable replacement for a stair skirt board for many reasons. On the one hand, it’s easier to install than a skirt board. Like decorative molding, you can install it by using several inches of the material right along the line of where the steps meet the wall.

Another reason you may opt for a regular baseboard trimming is that it offers a more complex design than quarter round but isn’t as busy as other types of decorative trimming.

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