Skirting boards (also known as based boards) are lengths of timber usually featuring a decorative moulding that extend around the perimeter of a room and fixed onto the walls at floor level. They can be made of various natural and man-made timbers including pine, oak, MDF or plastic and are fixed onto walls either with screws, nails, or adhesive.
The function of a skirting board is often overlooked, and not surprisingly, as they are hardly the most exciting product to buy for a build or renovation. But they exist for two main reasons; they mask over the unsightly gap between the bottom of wall plaster and the floor, and they provide protection to the bottom of the wall. This makes them especially important to high traffic areas of the home like hallways, and corridors, however as they are now a staple of any building they are now expected and important to the visual appearance in every room.
While skirting is available in several materials as mentioned, MDF skirting board have risen to be most popular by far. This is not without cause. While most natural timbers like Oak or Pine are suitable, they come with drawbacks. Natural timbers are prone to natural defects like splits and shakes, which can look unsightly and probably is not up to scratch when you spent a lot of time and money renovating a home. Lengths of natural timber can also twist and warp to a degree that they cannot always be fitted to a flat wall. However, as they are natural product this is part of what you buy and is still considered to be fit for purpose, regardless of the customers opinion of it.
MDF skirting boards also offer interior aesthetic benefits as well. As a relatively easier material for processors to handle, it becomes a cheaper material compared to the likes of Oak, and therefore more affordable to specify taller skirting board heights. For the interior design of a home, this allows you to specify a far more elaborate design on the larger board, and also give high ceilinged rooms a skirting board with a proportionate scale, providing a balanced aesthetic and a more bespoke touch to the room.
The reason MDF skirtings are so popular is that being a man-made material, they consist of none of these imperfections. They will not warp or twist, and its uniform surface does not split or contain any knots. All these factors make for a far easier installation of the lengths and should be top of your list when you come to deciding on second fix materials.