Question regarding what color to paint pine floors 1880 house

carol0512June 2, 2011

I'm getting the random width pine floors living and dining rooms refinished. sanded, etc. I was asked whether I wanted stain or paint. What is correct for 1880 brick house. area is 15 X 26 ft. no finish on floors right now. just dirty, dark in areas, and paint splattered.

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Make your decision wisely - You can paint over stain but you can't stain over paint.

Just my opinion, but I would never paint a floor that I'd paid to have sanded unless there was a major problem discovered. It may depend on where you're located but formal rooms in 1880 era rowhouses generally didn't have painted floors, at least not in in my area.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 10:54AM
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Carol, floors were almost never painted in formal rooms in that era, unless the house was very cheaply built for a laborer or far older--say 1810 or so.

Definitely stain, and keep in mind that the 'bowling alley' look so favored by refinishers is a modern trend--a softer, satiny glow was more likely, or even just a varnished stain. Let the character of the wood show itself.

In terms of value, stain is always going to increase the value, where paint will be seen as a cover-up attempt to disguise problems.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 9:11PM
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thanks for your advice. you all saved me a costly mistake that I was going to make.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 7:28AM
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Absolutely stain. Or just leave natural. Tell your sanding contractor not to try to remove ever dip and scratch -- leave a little character.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 2:07AM
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To add a bit of info, my understanding is that only the top floors of a house of that era would have been painted. And it's possible that even that would have depended on how grand the house was. Our former house, a circa-1870ish Italianate, was actually a fairly plain house, especially given the grand street it's on, and one that apparently changed from being a younger son's residence to a boarding house for workers in the town's carriage factory. The first two floors were stained, but the third floor, as well as the treads on the stairs leading to the third floor, were painted. As far as I could tell, the original paint color was a darkish chestnut color.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 12:15PM
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You know, right around 1880 it became the height of fashion to paint floors in gloss black as a dramatic frame to decorative carpets. At the same time ebonized art furniture with some Japanese influence became popular.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 7:17PM
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The less important a house or room, the more likely it would have painted wood. If your home was middle class, all of the floors would have been stained and shellacked or varnished. maybe a floored attic would have unfinished or painted wood. Woodwork (door and window, etc.) follows similar lines: more likely stained in formal rooms, or higher end homes (middle-class and up); painted in low end homes

Sombreuil: black painted woodwork and floors of the Aesthetic period (1865-1890) lend an amazing looking if you have the exactly right decor (Japanese fans, Aesthetic Period ebonized etegeres and Moorish light fixtures) but most folks today dont or wouldnt want that kind of style - Then it was high style and avant garde, now its just called dark and miserable (and most want to paint it white to brighten it up - UGH...)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 5:56PM
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People who installed pine floors in that era usually meant them to be covered in wall to wall carpeting, so they in all possibility weren't meant to be stained or painted. Many architects of the era were still specifying softwood floors.

You could have painted them, if you liked, because even then, some people liked to paint their floors rather than stain them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Victorian Interiors 1870-90 part 2

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 6:50PM
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