Is it worth it to paint dark woodwork when selling?

diytryingFebruary 24, 2009

I realize there are many other factors that are more important in selling my house but this is the one that has me waffling the most. Can you help me make up my mind?

My house was built in 1975 but have tried to update some and now has hardwood, tile downstairs and carpet upstairs. No laminate counters and new sinks, faucets and lights. I'll take down the wallpaper and borders and repaint. But I have lots of rooms and lots of doors, windows and trim, that, to me, all the dark woodwork makes look chopped up and cluttered. But to paint, arghhh, stair railing, 2 pocket doors and louvered pantry and closet doors besides all the regular doors, about 20 at quick count. Most of the rooms are fairly large and the good news is, these doors cover lots of storage. It'll still be a more chopped up 70s house, no open concept then...everything has a door! These are fairly nice quality doors, moldings and trim, look like pine to me and definitely stain grade.

Thanks for any and all advice......

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If they're stained, I wouldn't paint over them now as some people strongly prefer stained woodwork.

If they're painted dark, painting them light shouldn't hurt.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 1:23PM
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Sweeby: If they're stained, I wouldn't paint over them now as some people strongly prefer stained woodwork.

If they're painted dark, painting them light shouldn't hurt.

I agree

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 1:36PM
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I will also agree!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 3:41PM
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OK, my two cents!!! We put our last home on the market 6 years ago. It was a 1970's colonial (I'm from New England, the land of colonialdome!!). We had dark stain on the moldings in the living room, dining room and family room on the main floor. Most of the doors were the same. We also had dark stained bifold doors on the laundry room and family room, plus we had dark wood paneling in the family room. The upstairs had all light natural wood stain and all the doors were the same. We had several agents who suggested we paint the living and dining room molding and 6 over 6 windows white, which we did (it was a pain). They suggested to leave the family room and upstairs. The reason was that the first thing you would see when entering was the living and dining room and it would create a great first impression. We also removed dark brown wall to wall carpeting in those two rooms and had the floors sanded and refinished. All of those things I wanted to do when we first bought the house, but didn't because they really weren't offensive and easy to maintain. After we did, we were sorry we didn't make those changes at the begining because it really updated our house. We just loved it as did the prosepctive buyers!!! We didn't have much time to enjoy it after we did it, though. I was sorry we didn't paint the family room wood because I think it would have looked very nice, but we really didn't have enough time since we had already bought another home. It didn't seem to make much difference to buyers that the upstairs wasn't done.
Up here, dark molding is considered "dated" and young buyers hate it (and wall to wall carpeting too!). We have recently been looking at codos in a 30+ year old complex and there is a ton of dark wood there, and all of those units just sit there or drop in price. The ones that have new white molding and doors get a much better price. It just seems like an inexpensive fix to make a house set apart from the dated ones. It also may be a regional preference!
For what it's worth, ~L

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 5:39PM
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Darker woodwork seems to be gaining popularity in new homes. I would definitely NOT paint it but then I would never paint any woodwork.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 12:40AM
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Another one for not painting woodwork if it is in good condiditon......dark is making a come-back~~ What colors are your walls?....keep them light with dark woodwork and removing dark carpeting should do wonders.....Good Luck!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 11:30AM
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Reading your post, my guess is that you have the "popular wood" from the 70's, and I wonder how the finish is? My parents while it looked ok, once I took cleaner to it, the finish (top coat) came off. The doors while probably "nice", my guess is they are just doors, nothing special; the builder grade stuff that was popular then. My guess is similar to what my parents had.

Depending on your market, I would actually paint at least the main areas because when buyers walk in all their seeing is work. With the doors you might look at 6 panel doors that are prepainted white, from what I remember they weren't that expensive. We did this update in my last house. The ones we didn't replace (one or two closets) I did paint, what a difference it made.

We also had louvered doors, I was going to paint them but hubby said no, he ended up replacing them with 6 panel colonials. If yours look like mine with the darker wood, I would paint them if you can't replace them. I painted our windows, what a difference it made.

Yes, painting is a lot of work; and buyers will think so too. Unless you're priced as a fixer people are going to move on. They are going to add up their time and/or having to pay someone to do it. If the house screams 70's when you walk in, you should do it. You only get one chance to make a 1st impression.

Do what you can. If you think the house will look weird with some wood painted then don't do it. Once you get listed you can get feedback.

Have you had any agents come through to give you opinions?

Do you have any photos?

Here is a link that might be useful: Lowes interior doors

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 11:32AM
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Don't paint stained woodwork and especially don't paint just some of the woodwork and not others. Big mistake.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 5:29PM
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I agree with the 'paint the trim' posters. I'm getting my house ready and painted some doors and trim. I'm debating about others. This week I started pulling up carpet on stairs to my downstairs family room. I'm replacing the carpet but the side pieces of the stairs are stained oak. It always bothered me but I never did anything about it. I decided to pull up the carpet and this weekend will paint the stair sides.

I have so much stained trim in my house, but I think buyers today prefer paint. Very strange how styles change. I loved stained wood and replaced all my doors years ago with stain grade wood. Hired a wonderful wood finisher to stain all my doors. I paid extra when replacing windows for wood trim.

Now everyone wants paint. Years ago that was considered cheap.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 11:01PM
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I guess my answer did reflect the assumption that if the woodwork was stained, that it was nice quality. (Average to better.) If it is builder-grade cheapo stuff, then fresh paint likely would look better.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 3:52PM
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Thank you all very much for your input. It really is helpful to get the different perspectives. Interesting to know that some people have a mix between floors. The original owner of the house was a carpenter so he used nice quality wood everywhere. I should have also mentioned that over 30+ years of kids and pets, it's going to need some repair to minimize the dings and scratches. I've always found that so much easier to do with painted wood vs. stained. (When I see somebody take a chain or hammer to a piece of dark wood to age it, I want to offer to lend them a kid or a dog.)
I guess whether the house will sell reasonably will more depend on our astronomical taxes, and lack of services and old systems. (I will have to undergo some major expense for some of those.) Plus I have 5+acres of land (that backs up to a big farm) on a private 2-house cul-de-sac in a township where this much land doesn't usually go with a non-farm. We bought the house for the location, land and privacy. All the above factors, in any market, will probably make it or break it.
Since I'm about a year away from being ready, I haven't wanted to involve agents but I think I'll ask my former agent who's semi-retired for an opinion or recommendation.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 11:46AM
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