I need opinions, please!

kindred_nyDecember 2, 2010

would you refinish this wood? My trim is all painted, and I really want to see thewood, but I'm not sure I like this wood. Does it look like wood that was meant to be stained or covered up with paint?

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Hmmm, I am no good a figuring out what types of wood are which. But I would say strip that piece all the way and then do a trial of some finish on it (my new favorite thing is shellac). That will give you the best idea of how it will look. It will be a lot of work, but I personally think that any wood is worthy of refinishing. But I am *extremely* lucky in that all of the woodwork in my house is in great (unpainted) shape. Someone else will probably have better advice. Just had to put in my 2 cents ;)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 10:26PM
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That's fir. I recently sold a home that was disassembled to become flooring and millwork for another home. Some people like it but It's what you like that counts.

I like it but prefer it oiled and somewhat dull rather than any type of glossy finish.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 10:38PM
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I happen not to like that - stripes belong on zebras :-), so I'd paint it (and if you don't like it, you'll have to live with the results of some internet stranger's idea if you do anything else).

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 11:01PM
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Stained rather dark and shellacked, I think it would look nice!
I have been on several house tours though where old houses were stripped of their original finish, so all you had left was the bare wood with light stain--personally, I think butter belongs on toast, and not as a color for antique woodwork. :)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 12:11AM
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Kindred, could you take another picture with a reference point? A quarter or, lol - if that's too pricey - a dime? ;-)
It looks SO like some of my trim, which is dear to me, and the 1st thing I "uncovered" in a room that turned me around! (From "it's old & crappy" to "it's OLD & amazing!"). My woodwork, which looks like yours, woke me up to thinking about the age of my home, how long she's been here, etc. (Probably close to when I switched from "it" to "she" lol!)
Zebra's are native to another continent... The wood in my house is not. When I saw the contrast in the wood grain, I thought it was striking & beautiful.
My main reason for asking is, I'm wondering how tight the grain is, on yours. :-)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 1:51AM
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Toolgirl, you crack me up! You seem to know my budget, lol!I agree with so much of what was said. I think wood should not be covered up (I was so excited to strip this piece!!), but not sure I love the stripes (lol @ larke). I may try a medium/dark reddish stain (I keep thinking of my Grandma's house as a kid. Her house was OLD). I don't want to strip the piece all the way until I can get to the home improvement store to match the paint color. It's such a great green. One question. Isn't fir a soft wood, like pine? This seems pretty hard and dense. (?) And I agree, Columbusguy, definitely NOT a light stain in this old house!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 6:41AM
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It was made to be painted and for good reason.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 7:05AM
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"Isn't fir a soft wood, like pine? This seems pretty hard and dense. (?)"

Softwood doesn't mean the wood is soft. It just means it comes from a conifer - eg evergreens like pines and firs. Older Softwoods can actually be quite hard.

"Does it look like wood that was meant to be stained or covered up with paint? "

Well, wood was meant to grow in trees. Whether people choose to paint it is always a matter of personal opinion. Typically, fir is a less expensive wood and would likely have been painted. However, many people think is is beautiful and would be proud to show off old, original trimwork in its natural state.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 9:47AM
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Try stain and shellac on your sample before you decide. I bet the contrast between the light and dark will diminish and look more like "grain" than "stripes".

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 10:06AM
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Lol, Kindred... I just thought of something! The piece you stripped and photographed is "off the wall", (in more ways than one - just like mine, lol). So...

Couldn't you look at the back of it & get a pretty good idea of what the front will look like under the paint? :-)

Also, and my main question, could we use the back side for testing different finishes to determine what we like? When put back on the walls, it'll be hidden... (Yes, I said "we", because I want to do mine as well).

Regarding the quality of the wood, I believe that even the cheaper wood - considered "paint grade" 100 years ago, is good stuff & would not be cheap to buy now. I like to compare it to "depression glass", cheap stuff at the time, & sometimes free in a box of oatmeal... But nobody holds that against it now! The value of old things inceases, as the quality of newer things decreases.
Just my philosophy, anyway, especially after paying crazy $ for crappy plywood - ugh. IF I can even find some that isn't too warped to use. (Take THAT, big-store-lumber-yard-guy!!).

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 3:58PM
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There are pics here of stained fir in the link below...this just might work...

Here is a link that might be useful: stained fir pics

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 5:47PM
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It may be fir, esp. if you are in a western state, but it also looks quite a bit like georgia pine. All my house trim is such. It looks very nice (IMO) shellacked.

A window in my house.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 7:03PM
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If staining, I would go with something quite dark.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 7:03PM
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Casey... that window's oak. Red, or possibly even "tiger", but oak all the same.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 9:44PM
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I'm going to try to not get my old house panties in a bunch here, but definitely once you strip it, DON'T repaint it! That wood is gorgeous! I can't understand why someone thinks that needs to be painted. It does look like fir, and I've attached some photos of the fir in my house that has a ton of variations and striations in the wood. I think it's gorgeous!

And, if it is fir, it's old fir. Yes, it's a softer wood, but the old stuff is a heck of a lot tougher than the new stuff. I know- I've replaced some moldings in my house that the PO tore off, with the new fir and they do dent easily. My old stuff however, seems to be as hard as the oak you buy today. And I've run my vacuum into my fir moldings a lot in the past few years (not intentionally, mind you!).

These photos are completely untouched stained fir that are 92 years old and have seen a LOT of use/abuse throughout the years! All I've done since buying this house is wipe them down with orange oil once a year. This is the original stain, shellac- whatever they used on it back then.

Dining Room walls- wainscoting and column:

And, obviously needs dusted!:

Btw- I was able to match the stain in my house using 3 different cans of minwax- mixing in little jars and staining an extra new piece until I got it just right! The new moldings blend right in with the old now- minus a coupled of dents! :)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 1:32PM
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Oldhousegal, what colors did you use. I tried staining a corner of the stripped piece in the pics above, and it didn't stain very evenly. I am so appreciative of the pics you posted! Thank you! Seeing those, I don't think I'll mind the stripes, because the medium/reddish stain blends them in a bit. The more I see, the more I thinl I just might strip and stain my woodwork! YEA!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 6:09PM
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First of all try a wood conditioner on the wood- it does help to even out the stain. I didn't on my first couple of pieces and the stain was so dark in some areas that I had to start over. I'm not sure why the 'new' wood needs it, but it does- so perhaps the old wood will be better with it as well.

To match the above, I used Minwax Special Walnut, and Red mahogany in equal parts, then thinned that color with natural until it matched. It took about 6 jars of trying, so buy bigger cans! And of course write down what you do, so if you run out, you can replicate it again. I now have a big can of custom tinted "old house mix" that sits in the cupboard, ready for any new pieces!

OF course, I was a bit crazy about mixing the perfect color- but the original color was probably much darker, and had reddened a bit through the years, based on the one photo I have from the PO. But, looking at the matching moldings now, I'm very happy I took the time to do it that way.

Good Luck, and please post when you are finished!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 1:05PM
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