trim in 1950's home

blackthumbbbMarch 22, 2010

Ok so here's my dilemma. I have a 1950's ranch home. I have some archways and a few "fancy" details, that to me warrant a nice, basic crown molding. This will hide some of the waviness of the walls anyway. My baseboards, casing, etc. is natural stained oak - the standard variety found in 1950's/60's homes. Since it was just laquered (or whatever the clear coating is called) it will be very hard to match since it has yellowed a bit over the years (not bad really but enough). I don't necessarily like the idea of stripping and painting everything white (and I'm assuming white crown w/natural trim would look hideous), plus I like the idea of keeping some of the original characteristics of home. So, how the heck do I match the color? Has anyone had any luck with this?

2nd question - I have the original 1954 Lyon Metal cabinets which I'm intent on keeping. Does fine auto-body paint really work to refinish them? Anyone tried it? They are in good condition so I'm looking to give them a facelift not an overhaul (so no electro-static painting, etc).

Thanks in advance for any advice.


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I don't know about building practices in your area in the 50's, but in my town douglas fir was the wood of choice for the average home because of the cost and availability up here in Canada. The finish was a coat of shellac to seal and then varnish to finish. In my house, built in 1949, there were a few areas that I changed back in the late 70's which necessitated new moldings which I had a neighbor turn out in his shop to match the old stuff. For the finish I took a piece of the original along with some of the new stuff to my paint store where they experimented with stains until they matched the old. It was great , although I must say it wasn't quite the same as your situation where as I understand it , you are going to add on to the old trim. My advice is to take a piece of oak and try to match the color and patina before you begin any major work.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 7:22PM
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Refinishing the cabinets takes somefinessing.

Since you are interested in keeping the '50s look, forget the mouldings. They don't fit or enhance the style.

The retro reno in the link above is a wonderful example of enhancing the look with sympathetic finishes.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 8:15PM
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I've never refinished metal kithcen cabinets but I have used auto paint on wood and metal several times, including cars. The first thing you would need is a spray gun. If you don't have one, you can purchase a middle grade HVLP for somewhere around $400.00. A good investment IMO. Now you can sand down the cabinets with a palm sander starting at about 150 grade and 220 grade. Vacuum and wipe the cabinets then fill any holes or scratches with Bondo. Sand smooth again and keep sanding to about 1500 grade wet/dry. Then you use a self etching primer, two coats, sanding between. Most of the auto paint is waterborn that you have to add a catalizer to. You can use a clear coat type or not. Worked on refrigerators I've done.

To match your crown molding to your baseboard, you could use something like General wipe on gel stain. For me, I like water soluble analine dye but to each his own. Main thing is to get a long piece of crown molding to pratice on and do the whole process including the final clear finish.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 1:57AM
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I think you can match the stain. Just get a stain that looks close and try it (trial and error) on a piece of the trim. If you have to you can mix stains to get the right color. I did this successfully when I had to add trim pieces to my redwood exterior, using pine. The pine needed a dark stain with a little bit of red mahogany mixed in, in order to match the redwood. good luck!
PS: the last post was obviously from a mad man. aniline dyes cause cancer..

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 12:11AM
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Thanks for the advice. For some reason it never crossed my mind to bring a piece in and have them match it. I talked to them this morning and they said it would be no problem and like soto mentioned, they can mix to get the match if needed.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:45AM
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Circus Peanut

Soto -- the synthetic dyes used today under the name 'aniline' are not made from actual aniline, just fyi - they aren't carcinogenic. Real aniline hasn't been used in years in woodworking dyes.

I also prefer dye to any kind of over-the-counter pigment stain (minwax et al). Much better control over the tone and much more even coloration. Transtint is one brand I've had good results with, available at Rockler & Woodcraft. I've been able to correctly match my 90-year-old fir trim with no trouble.

Have fun & good luck!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:44AM
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There may be some truth to what Soto said. You know, everyone who used analine dye back in the 1800's is dead now. Beware!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:03PM
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I love this link below. One posted is about metal kitchens.

Here is a link that might be useful: metal cabinets

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 8:56AM
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