Guide written by:
John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton
Mouldings are essential when installing any lighting or electrical system. When installed on a wall, skirting can be painted to imitate wood or fitted according to the specific electrical installation's needs. Aesthetics, dimensions and wire count are the important factors to look out for.
- Number of compartments
Electric duct, molding or skirting?
Ducts, moldings and skirting boards are small PVC strips who's back is designed to be glued on a wall, paired with a hood that hides wires or electrical cables. Moldings are often placed above the hardwood's base, along doorframes, in the corners and discreetly placed next to a light or an appliance.
Quality moulding and proper installation make it possible to realize a rapid, aesthetic installation and is perfectly compliant with all the relevant norms.
Ducts and plates
To keep it simple, a duct is a high capacity moulding. They are found whenever many wires or cables of large cross-sections are required. To sum it up, as you've already figured out, the ducts are used to implement your different electrical circuits. In particular, the main service duct (GTL) is responsible for the organizing all of the lighting circuits, electrical outlets, electric heating and power supply for domestic appliances. Low current circuits are not excluded: telephone, computer network, TV antenna... the GTL duct feeds the electrical panel as well as the communication box.
The GTL ductismandatory for both renovations and new constructions. Larger wiring ducts, on which you can mount outlets, are very convenient for wiring rooms in which multiple device connections are needed. Practicality is preferred over the aesthetic value with this configuration, but if you desire a workshop equipped like a small factory, or a kitchen worthy of a large restaurant, without having extensions and multiple sockets going all over the place, this is what you need.
During a renovation, it can be interesting to replace the wood skirting with electric upgrades. An electric skirting, unlike it's wooden counterpart, hides the gap between the floor and wall while providing excellent protection of the electric wires. More heavy-duty than moldings, electric skirting is available in many colors including natural wood imitation, to get the most beautiful effect. Most major brands offer accessories and equipment which will allow you to quickly and easily install an aesthetic and perfectly suitable installation, adapted to your every need.
Duct, moulding or skirting: what are their characteristics?
For a prospective circuit to be installed in a wet room and be exposed to water spashling, a standard moulding will not suffice, you will need a PVC pipe installation. If the duct is there to protect cables, you can forgo the elbow and tee parts. However when it's protecting wires, elbows and tees will be required in order to guarantee that it's waterproof and offers a good mechanical protection from every angle.
When adding supplementary sockets or switches, small rubber stamps are available. These can be cut to any diameter in order to get a more perfect fit and reinforce the waterproofing element. Note that cable glands are also available to ease the cables into the switches and sockets.
If the new renovation is all about using electrical moldings, their aesthetic qualities are going to be important factors. For basic models, there are simple, angular and white mouldings made of brittle plastic. In the middle of the range, there are more stylish strips with curved lines and the colors of which are more varied. The most common varieties are off-white, cream color or light gray. Plastics are more flexible. You can buy paintable mouldings to blend them perfectly with the decor or imitation wood sticks, perfect for a cottage or a rustic home! Past the most basic models, the moulding's plastics are more flexible and are therefore more resistant to shocks than can be taken when a moulding is protruding. Their lifespan is also increased.
Number of compartments
Ducts, skirting and mouldings can have severalcompartments. It is a valuable feature that allows for the separation of circuits and make the installation easier. This quickly becomes a requirement whe mixing high current and low current circuits in the same moulding. For example, you can designate one of the compartments for the network, telephone or TV cables, another for compartment for lighting and the last one is reserved for a circuit of electrical outlets. Some manufacturers offer removable dividers to create compartments in their mouldings as needed.
Capacity of compartments
Before buying your electric mouldings, it is crucial to have already designed the electrical circuit. The number of cables or wires and their type must be determined. A lighting circuit uses three 1.5 mm² wires, which will requires less space than an electrical outlet circuit, equipped with three 2.5mm² conductors. A phone cable is more compact than an unshielded network cable or a coaxial cable for the TV antenna or satellite. The different compartment's capacities are generally provided by the manufacturer. Do not try to force it by jamming in more than it can take! Best case scenario, your life just got a bit more complicated, and your system's evolution will be very challenging. Worst case scenario, you can start shopping for new moulding!
Each moulding can accommodate a given number of wires according to their cross-section, expressed in mm². For example, a 13 x 24 mm moulding may contain any of the following combinations: 18 1.5 mm² wires for lighting purposes, 13 2.5 mm² wires for electrical outlets or 66 mm² wires for electric plates. Always make sure that the purchased moulding can contain all your circuit's required wires, leaving yourself a small margin just in case you need to add additional circuits.
What are the electric moulding's different accessories?
When installing, the moulding's back is sawed, along with their hood, so that they can be placed one after the other. In doing so, the assembly's rigidity is reduced and the wires may even be visible in the event of a bad fit. The connectors therefore play a crucial role in your installation's mechanical strength, electrical safety and aesthetic qualities. In any case, an installation must be in compliance with the standards and norms.
It allows the moulding to rotate 90 ° at the top, bottom, right or left. Only the most classic piece.
An inside corner makes it possible to realize properly a moulding'sjunction in a room's corner.
Outside corner angle
Same principle as the inside corner, but for a protrudingwall such those that are found in a winding hallway or even an ornate room. The outside corner is essential in this case because without it, the moulding's hood would not be supported at all in the angle.
The whole house's cables meet at the at the GTL. They are however bigger than the main service duct itself. The tapered column facilitates this meeting by widening the section of the main service ducts where the cables arrive.
If a moulding stops in the middle of a wall, it is important to add an end cap to prevent any access to the conductors and to set the hood in place, otherwise it may easily pop off.
The mouldings can not measure any more than two meters. If several of them need to be placed end to end over a greater distance, the straight junction is just the piece you're looking for.
A tee joint allows a moulding to be moved away perpendicularly to relay a switch or a light. Very challenging to do without.
Specially designed electrical devices are offered in some quality ranges by major manufacturers. These allow you to very easily place an electrical socket, or a switch on a moulding with a perfect finish.
A switch or a light
For a new installation, a much-needed renovation, or if you're simply curious as to how to hide all those wires, follow the links below to browse our editors' advice, guides and helpful tips on skirting and moulding.
Guide written by:
John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton, 70 guides
Since I was a child, I was always interested in manual and technical works. Always fascinated by woodworking, I took advantage of my first flat as a playground. On the cards: electricity (of course, safety first!) and some partition walls; but also decorating with the help of the missus, made-to-measure furniture and little tricks to optimise the space, all the while remaining as original as possible. When the little one arrived, I started building bits and pieces for him! Lacking space, I have not got a permanent workshop and certain tools I dream about but are not part of my collection. Not to worry, I already know a lot about DIY and I have a high-tech profile that I hope will guide you in your decisions!