A Black or White Question

skirtboardslongThe one kitchen thing that’s been a lasting source of mild annoyance to me is the skirting board material. Instead of wood, the skirt boards are the rubber kind that’s commonly found in industrial kitchens. I assume the person who put them in did so because they’re flexible and thus easy to wrap around corners, and they’re no doubt quick to install.

Plus, there’s one gently curved wall at the back outside corner of the kitchen, and fitting wooden skirting boards there would be more difficult than simply pressing the rubber into place.

But that’s what kerf cuts are for.

skrtboardscloseSo I’m thinking about making an inexpensive upgrade by replacing the rubber skirting boards with 3/4″- or perhaps 1/2″-thick painted poplar. All I’d have to do is measure, cut the parts to fit and kerf the back of the piece for the curve (then fill the cuts on top where they’d show). I can’t imagine it would take me more than a couple hours’ work (though Murphy’s law dictates, of course, that it will take at least twice as long as I anticipate).

Because the door and window casings in the kitchen aren’t profiled, I don’t even have to worry about an edge treatment; square would match the rest of the trim (though I would no succumb to the compulsion to add a toe kick to match the trim in the rest of the house…and because I can never seem to take the easiest path).

But I can’t decide, should I do this, if black or the white of the cabinets is the best color choice. White would perhaps made the room look a bit larger* and form a continuous visual line with the door casings and cabinets – plus it would match the baseboards in the rest of the house, and look fresh and clean…but without vigilant attention it might not stay that way for long. Black would match the appliances and grout, and help to “ground” the base cabinets – but wouldn’t look as crisp against the yellow walls and white door casings.

What do you think: Is it worth the trouble? And if so, would you choose black or white?

* That may be a fashion-based assumption; white skirts make things look larger – which is why I don’t wear them.

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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10 Responses to A Black or White Question

  1. jborgschulte says:

    White trim/moulding usually gives a room a more classic and traditional feel. Black would be more of a modern touch. I prefer the white.

  2. Kerry Blue says:

    Forgive me for asking, but isn’t this the kitchen that is in the house you are selling??? Almost guaranteed a potential buyer will come for a viewing whilst the kitchen is full of rubber residue, sawdust and curious cats….Neither you nor the house will present well (unless the potential buyer is a fellow woodworker) so I’d be leaving things as they are. Obviously keeping the house ready for inspection at all times is taking its toll and you need a new project….Just don’t make it the current kitchen…..

  3. Jim Kelley says:

    Fitz – I agree w/Kerry. Unless you pull the house from the market when changing realtors, you should be relying on selling what you’ve already updated. Keep track of prospect comments from the realtor hosts so you have a prioritized list of things you might attack if it becomes necessary. Reading your blog and viewing your house-pics, I don’t think you are going to have a problem moving the property as it currently sits.

  4. Mark says:

    I’ll second Kerry’s comment. Absolutely no further improvements at this point. If you encounter any difficulties in selling the house, it’s highly doubtful that the rubber base will have anything to do with it. Besides, new owners have ideas of their own and it’s entirely possible that the next owner will decide they want to do an entire kitchen makeover. I’ve seen this happen in homes where the kitchen had been remodeled within the past year. Back in the early 80s, I did time working in a retail home center and we sold miles of that rubber stuff. Back then, it was the standard product for kitchens, like Formica counter tops and “ductless” range hoods, your choice of five colors to choose from. For the past ten or fifteen years or so, better kitchen installs tend to continue the baseboard around the cabinets, matching the color of the baseboard to the cabintes or more often, matching the stained finish. That may be more of a regional thing though. I’m in the Southeast now and my days of dealing in rubber cove were in the Northeast.

  5. Brian Loucks says:

    We just closed a horror story of selling my father-in-law’s house. We removed 50 years of accumulation. He was a master cabinetmaker, so part of it was very worthwhile. Even the 12 sheetrock buckets of screws and assorted hardware. Anyway, every potential buyer made some little comment about a trivial problem. We fixed or altered them all until we realized that it really didn’t matter. You either like the house and take it as is, or move on to the next showing. Best wishes and extreme patience…

  6. mike mays says:

    My two cents, is leave it alone, and sell like it is.
    I would prefer white baseboards; and if the curve area isn’t a long sweeping curve for you to kerf the back of a baseboard then I would buy ” flex trim” a rubberized base trim that would match your profile. buy at a prehung door shop or a high end molding lumber center.

  7. Black Stripe says:


  8. Rich Snow says:

    It doesn’t seem practical if you are selling the house to replace the trim. If you want to replace it anyhow, I’d suggest black trim under the cabinets; then a small plinth block to separate it from white trim that follows. The plinth block can be used almost anywhere to create continuity but separate things that don’t connect well otherwise.

  9. ejcampbell says:

    I’d leave it. I think this is more about your impatience to sell this house and the need to “help” the process along by doing “something”. Buyers won’t notice. It’s like building a piece of furniture. The builder knows where every single flaw is and they all embarrass him/her to death and no one else notices.

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