Stair Skirtboards are a category of aprons which are basically a type of stair moulding. While Skirtboards are often used to describe all stair aprons, there is a better and simpler categorization that helps define the location of the apron on the stair or balustrade. While the aprons on a particular staircase may be identical products, their location is often confused without a further distinction.This distinction comes from breaking the category of Aprons (commonly generalized as Skirtboards) down into skirt boards and kick boards, each with a very specific definition. This makes designing, ordering and installing the items more easily discussed.
The best definition of a stair skirtboard is a long board that trims under the balustrade on the wall or stringer below. This is further simplified into Stair Skirtboards and Floor Level Skirtboards. Stair skirtboards are installed under the stair treads on stairs with an open balustrade. Typically stair skirtboards on open or saw-toothed treads are about 12” wide. Stair Skirtboards on kneewalls may be narrower because without the tread notch they can otherwise appear too “heavy” in some circumstances. There is another reason for larger stair skirtboards on saw-toothed treads and smaller on kneewall stairs that I will discuss shortly. First that requires us to define the second type of skirtboard which is the floor level skirtboard. This skirtboard is attached to the wall under any balustrade. They range in thickness from a couple of inches to a foot or more wide. It is the transition from stair to floor level skirt boards that must be considered when determining the width of each type. For example, because saw-toothed skirt boards have a large percentage of the board notched out at the open treads, the look is not as heavy. Therefore, you may find it more aesthetically pleasing to use a narrower floor level skirt board rather than a full 12” wide that matches the stair skirtboards. The following images may help you understand this concept a little better.
Now, for the kickboard; this type of apron is a long board that trims the wall above the treads on enclosed sides of a stairway. It can also be installed on the stair side of a kneewall. Kickboards have both an aesthetic function, adding the additional rich texture of grain to the wall which creates a bold border to the staircase, but they provide a very durable protection to the wall from shoes and most importantly vacuums.
Hopefully, you have a little better understanding of this product but the question may still remain, “why is it important to distinguish these different areas of the same product?” The answer is that often people may want one or the other or if they want both they may differ in width or material. For example, you may want 12” paint grade kickboard and 12” walnut stair skirtboard with 6” walnut floor level skirtboard. Another example would be 12” paint grade kickboard only.
Regardless, this system makes discussing aprons far easier and ensures that the correct components are ordered and installed.
There is one final aspect of aprons that you should consider. That is the material. Aprons are available in a variety of sizes but most typically they are ¼” paint grade, ¼” veneered and ¾” solid (paint grade or hardwood). The ¼” version uses a moulding to cover the exposed edge and is typically less expensive and an excellent choice for radiused stairs or floor levels. Also, the core of the ¼” veneered aprons provides excellent protection against shoes, toys and vacuum. The ¾” is a more bold and heavy look and has the advantage, in stain grade applications, of being solid hardwood.
This is one stair component that can add a bold look to your balustrade with minimal expense, especially when using 1/4”. As always if you need design ideas or have any questions visit our site or contact one of our stair specialists at CustomersFirst@WoodStairs.com or 888-390-7245.