Cleaning 1915 Unpainted Oak Trim

CassandraJuly 17, 2014

I've just bought a 1915 house with original unpainted oak trim, including box beams and built-ins. Can I assume the finish is shellac? If so, what is the best way to clean it? I've heard conflicting things--paint thinner, Murphy's oil soap, etc.

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You can't assume anything. It may be shellac, but someone in the 1970s could have applied a layer of polyurethane or Bona Wood floor finish. Or it could be no finish at all.

Test the finish:

Then look up the recommended cleaning method for that finish.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:03PM
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For an inexpensive and harmless fix, I'd hit it with Scott's Liquid Gold.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Check out the link posted by lazygardens. If you don't find all the answers,follow up on Wood Magazine's online help.
I have subscribed for years and find their articials first rate.
Painting and refinishing is 90% prep and there are no wham bam short cuts to get good results.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:40PM
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Pictures please! :)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:40PM
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I'm not in the house yet jmc--that is, not closed yet--but will send photos soon!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:47AM
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