Skirting Board Wedges (plugs)

10 Jan 2017
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United Kingdom
Hi all. I've spent the last 6 months of the 6 months I've owned our house doing repair work on previous bodges. Luckily I've learnt a lot from people trained in both the old and new ways.

One thing I need to do this month is fit new architrave and skirting to the front room. I've got the timber architrave which I've no problem fitting, however I don't know where to go with the 5" MDF skirting. The house is 1947 and had the wooden wedges/plugs between the blue damp course bricks every 15-18".

Although I'd like to plug, countersink and screw, I don't want to ruin drill bits by drilling into the blue brick which is quite dense. I also don't like using adhesives.

Does anybody have experience putting the wooden wedges/plugs in? I like this way as I feel it's a secure way of doing it. Half of them could probably be re-used, but for where I can't, I'm not sure the best way to do it.

Is this a feasible way to go here?
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Yes, whilst most modern work is done with grip adhesive and 16ga pins (for painted work) I still resort to using wedges and propellers (like a wedge but with a but of a twist to it) when doing stuff like window linings, etc especially on listed buildings. The proper way to cut them is to chop them out with an axe quickly. To fix new ones I use a cordless angled grinder with a mortar raker blade to clean out the mortar joints, but for ones and twos a narrow chisel as used for pointing suffices. They will need to be cut over length and sawn to the required length after you bray them in. For painted work I'd go for oval nails punched under with an appropriate size nail set as opposed to screws - faster and easier to fill and less obvious
Thanks for the advice. I've got the right length lost head nails which I am going to punch below the surface and fill in after which should hide them. I took a look last night and I've got some decent hardwood left over from a previous project I can use. Just need to remember to make them longer than needed so I can cut flush with the wall after.

I suppose it's a matter of preference really. I do see the argument for the adhesives, glues and foams but personally I prefer to go a little more old school - the original ones lasted 70 years! That way, I'll have left a nice gap between the bottom of the plasterwork and the floor, so there's no bridge and I've got room for plenty of cables should I need that too.
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what sort of drill have you got ? an SDS won't be troubled by those bricks, in fact a decent percussion drill shouldn't either. drill bits are cheap
I took a look last night and I've got some decent hardwood left over from a previous project I can use. Just need to remember to make them longer than needed so I can cut flush with the wall after.
I've generally used softwoods - easier to cut than hardwoods. If you have timbers like pitch pine, etc it is very durable and you need to ensure that your hardwood is a durable species, so stuff like beech, maple or sycamore would be no good whilst oak would work well.

I've tended to keep using wedges on poorer quality masonry, especially in the older buildings (where grade listing can be an issue). Gripfill, etc are ideal on modern builds because it works well (especially on MDF), is fast, easy to work with and above all it is cheap (foam isn't that cheap). It doesn't work well on indifferent surfaces, pock-marked walls, gloss-painted surfaces, etc
Thanks for all of the input everyone, in the end I had a slight change of plan. Most of the original twisted plugs were still intact so I thought to re-use these. None were rotten and very few came out when removing the original skirting. This I what I did...

I cut 3" strips of timber which were the same depth as the plaster and render and screwed these into the original twisted wedges, probably every 15-18". I then screwed the boards into these strips of timber. For most of the room, the skirting turned out fairly well flush with the wall, however I did use a couple of spacers here and there. I feel it's better than nails as the screws grip in and I've not had to use any adhesives; just a thin bead of caulk between the gaps.

All in all it took just over 3 hours, but that did include scribing/mitering the corners and me taking it slower.

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