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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    1

    Question To paint? Or not to paint?

    We are facing a challenging question - whether or not to paint out the interior trim in our 1912 Craftsman-esque house.

    It has PILES of stained fir trim. This means wide baseboards, crown moldings, mantles, window frames and door casings. We have some questions, and would really welcome some input.

    1) What would be authentic to the era? The fir wood isn't particularly nice looking - it's coarse-grained and doesn't take stain very well, so would it have originally meant to be painted? The trim seems to have a polyurethane finish on it, so it may not be authentic. A modern addition on the back had trim custom milled to match - lots and lots of reddish brown fir trim. We have looked around the neighborhood to see what is authentic, but there seems to be a real mishmash of examples - painted, not painted, partially painted.

    2) Would it be terrible to paint only the crown molding to match the ceiling colour? Even though the ceilings are about 9 feet high, the dark band of trim really accentuates the line between wall and ceiling.

    3) Is this an all-or-nothing proposition? Could we paint some rooms (i.e. the living/dining room) for a more refined look and leave the more informal areas (kitchen/family room) as wood for a warmer more informal look? Or, is this just a bad idea?

    PLEASE HELP! Anything people have to say is helpful. Thanks, David.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2

    Smile Re: To paint? Or not to paint?

    Hi! I am an interior designer/interior architect with more than 30 years of experience. Your home is quite beautiful and I'm envious.

    Following are some of my thoughts on your questions:

    Quote Originally Posted by MDavidg View Post

    1) What would be authentic to the era?

    During this era trim made of fir was meant to be painted. Hardwood trim was meant to be stained and varnished.

    The fir wood isn't particularly nice looking - it's coarse-grained and doesn't take stain very well, so would it have originally meant to be painted?

    Yes - I tell my clients that fir was "born to be painted". It wasn't considered a fine finish wood. But since they didn't finger joint it that clue isn't there. During the last part of the 20th Century many many people stripped painted pine/fir trim, stained it and covered the stain with polyurethane. That is another clue you picked up on.
    The trim seems to have a polyurethane finish on it, so it may not be authentic.

    I had a client that was making himself just crazy because he stripped all the trim in his 1910 home and sanded, sanded, sanded...he just couldn't "get all the trim to match". When he showed me I found that the trim was actually a couple of different kinds of wood - gum, pine, fir, etc. I asked him to sit down before I delivered the bad news: The trim was "born to be painted". The good news (and yours is the same) is that since he stripped it and sanded it the painted finish would be beautiful - no alligatoring, no chipped paint in the final coat just a beautiful painted finish!
    2) Would it be terrible to paint only the crown molding to match the ceiling colour? Even though the ceilings are about 9 feet high, the dark band of trim really accentuates the line between wall and ceiling.

    Consider painting the ceiling above the crown molding the same color(s) as the walls in the room. If you paint all the molding in the rooms (probably some shade of white) and leave the ceiling white the moldings will disappear. Consider showing off the moldings by painting all the plaster areas on the walls and ceilings. The colors need not be dramatic, though they could be if that is how you are inclined.
    3) Is this an all-or-nothing proposition? Could we paint some rooms (i.e. the living/dining room) for a more refined look and leave the more informal areas (kitchen/family room) as wood for a warmer more informal look? Or, is this just a bad idea?

    I would vote for painting all the trim - and painting it all one single color. It is usually best to not use bright white - that color is too modern and too stark. It also reflects the most light possible and the nuances of the milled trim can be lost.

    Most of the top paint manufacturers have standard white ranges that can be used to coordinate with your final colors for the plaster walls and ceilings. Don't forget the ceilings - they are a large part of the overall room decor and when you have moldings to set them off they can really show off the craftsmanship in your home.

    Painting all the trim throughout the building will provide a consistent background, place the look in its proper historical perspective and allow for each room to be customized, decoration-wise in its own way according to your desires.



    PLEASE HELP! Anything people have to say is helpful. Thanks, David.
    Last edited by Donna K; 01-05-2008 at 02:01 PM.

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