Planning & preparation

  • If you're adding both architrave and skirting, it’s a good idea to match the style for a consistent look
  • Choose the right architrave for you: it comes in softwood, primed MDF and fully finished MDF and in a number of different profiles and lengths
  • If you are going to be decorating a whole room, it’s best to fit your architrave prior to painting or hanging wallpaper

Do it right

  • If fitting both architrave and skirting, fit the architrave first
  • Architrave is typically set back 6mm from both sides of the frame and the top of the door casing. This ensures equal spacing and stops the architrave from impeding the fitting of the door hinges
  • If you are using softwood architrave, treat any knots with knotting solution before you start, and sand down the face before painting
  • The method shown here can be used for both softwood and primed MDF architrave. If you are using fully finished MDF architrave, you should use grab adhesive only and not nail or screw through the face. Additionally, the fully finished product should be cut from the reverse side only to prevent damaging the finish. Using masking tape on the face of the architrave where you are about to cut will help prevent damage to the fully finished coating

Staying safe

  • If using a mitre box, secure it in a workbench with clamps, or screw it to a piece of sheet timber that you can kneel on. This keeps both hands free, so that you can hold the architrave in position whilst using the saw
  • To avoid hidden water pipes and electric cables, use a pipe and cable detector before drilling or nailing into a wall
  • If you are using a solvent-based Grab Adhesive, then be sure to ventilate the room whilst working. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on usage, safety and drying times

How to Fit Architrave


Start by using a pipe and cable detector to check that the area where you are fitting the architrave is clear of hidden pipes and electric cables. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Using a combination square or tape measure, draw marks 6mm from the inner edge of the door casing, down both sides and across the top.


Join the marks using a spirit level or straight edge, giving you three lines to which the architrave will be aligned.


Measure the line across the top of the door. Mark the length onto the inner edge of the architrave, but leave enough room at either end to allow for the mitre cuts. Lightly mark the intended direction of the mitre cuts onto the architrave.


Place the architrave, flat side down, into the mitre box. Use a tenon or fine tooth saw, to make the two 45-degree mitre cuts. The cuts are angled in opposite directions so that the outer edge will be wider than the inner edge on both sides of the door.


When you’ve made the cuts, lightly sand the cut ends until they are smooth.


Apply the grab adhesive to the back of the architrave. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Carefully fix the head piece into position along the 6mm line above the door, ensuring the mitred corners are aligned with the marks on both sides of the frame.


To hold the architrave in position whilst the adhesive sets, hammer four evenly spaced 40mm lost head nails through the architrave and into the wooden door casing.


Measure from the floor to the bottom of the head piece, and mark this distance onto the two sections of architrave that will be your side pieces.


Mark the intended direction of the mitre cut onto both sections. Bear in mind that one end of each side piece will need to be cut square so it can sit flat on the floor.


Make the 45-degree mitre cut to each side piece, ensuring that the cuts are made in opposite directions so that the outer edge is taller than the inner edge on both sides. Lightly sand the cut ends.


Test the mitre joints before fixing. If need be, make small adjustments with a block plane.


It’s best to fix each side piece in turn. Start by applying some PVA glue to the mitre cut at one end of the head piece and the mitre cut of one of the side pieces.


Apply some grab adhesive to the back of the side piece and carefully fix it into position, holding it in place with six evenly spaced 40mm lost head nails. Then, repeat this process and fit the other side piece.


Use a hammer and nail punch to sink all the nails to just below the surface.


Finally, fill and sand down the small nail holes before painting.