White painted woodwork - just stop it!!!!

kashka_katOctober 18, 2013

Started looking for my new "forever" home. Haven't looked for house in 20 years and I must say - the easy credit of the 90s and early 00's really did a number on vintage and/or historic houses. Between the sloppy DIY remuddling and the cheap gut and flip jobs, there sure ain't much left.

White painted woodwork - why???? Why not a subtle taupe. A grey-green. A dark charcoal. Or hey - here's a concept. Leave it bare wood - refinish and its good to go for another 50 years. Paint just gets chipped, worn, has to be covered with another coat in no time at all.

Literally about 9/10ths of houses I'm seeing has WHITE PAINT slathered over everything. Well, I guess that's better than totally REMOVING all the historic trim and replacing it with the cheap cheesy thin modern stuff.

Don't get me started on vinyl siding and cheep cheep cheep replacement windows. Theyre called that because they cant be repaired - only replaced. I was at home depot the other day and one of their showroom model windows was completely busted. Like that really inspires confidence!

Oh well. Plan B: tinyhouselistings.com

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christopherh

Everybody has their own taste. And white baseboards are so common nobody even notices it. Now if the house was a craftsman style, I too would be upset the beautiful wood would be painted.

Home Depot? Yes, you can buy cheap, and you can get Anderson windows too.

And vinyl siding comes off just as easy as it went on. But many people put it on because of the constant hassle of painting the house.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 7:03AM
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kashka_kat

Yep Im referring to craftsmans and early 1900s 4squares and anything that was still being built with the old growth timber that used to cover most of North America. The deep rich shellac tones of the wood are the perfect complment to the deep rich colors commonly used at that time.

Once you start getting into 30s-40s-50s wood starts being not so special (although I would still ask why does it have to be white - and with the range of easy to use stains available now you could get some really lovely grays and neutral tones - doesn't have to be brown - that leave the grain visible while concealing dings/dents - once you put that white paint on it goes deep into the grain and may not be removeable).

Actually my observation is that what seems to retain most value are the houses that were a) built pretty well to begin with and b) either were meticulously restored to original and/or had updates that were very creatively and expertly done to harmonize with/reflect the original esthetic.

The cheap flips and shoddily done DIYs really do lose value I think - I think people perceive and react negatively to architectural mishmash and visual chaos, whether or not they have the language or understanding to tell you why.

Unfortunately in my price range I'm seeing more of the latter than if I had another 100-200 K to spend. My only hope is to find a small grandma house that was cared for and only had a few minor alterations over the years like 1960s paneling maybe and circa 1980 kitchen cabs. But as time goes on there's less and less of those.

Sure people can and do have their own tastes but these forums are full of people fretting about "resale value" - all Im saying is to give some thought to the possibility that your esthetic choices may also affect "resale value."

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 11:29AM
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cmarlin20

I for one like white trim because it is light and cheery. I understand your desire for original quality wood trim as I read your rant I thought it is out there but it costs more. Your second post confirmed that it is available but out of your price range. Is it possible it was out of the budget of some previous owners as some trim becomes so worn that it is much less expensive to just patch and paint white.
I believe this is also why many people put vinyl siding on their house, it is a financial decision.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 10:19PM
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liriodendron

Personally, I don't like natural wood trim and would always lean towards painting it. Fortunately most of my pre-Civil War house has always had painted trim.

The colors are white, cream, tan and grey, in various layers and in different rooms.

L

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 10:19PM
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cmarlin20

I for one like white trim because it is light and cheery. I understand your desire for original quality wood trim, as I read your rant, I thought it is out there but it costs more. Your second post confirmed that it is available, but out of your price range. Is it possible it was out of the budget of some previous owners as some trim becomes so worn that it is much less expensive to just patch and paint white.
I believe this is also why many people put vinyl siding on their house, it is a financial decision.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 10:21PM
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christopherh

Most of the houses in my town here in VT were built anywhere from 1830 to 1875. A couple still have decedents of the original owners still living there.

A couple houses also date to the late 1700s.

The houses are updated on a regular basis. They have to be. And if that means painting the woodwork or replacing it, so be it.

Do you want an original kitchen too?

Look, you can take the paint off the wood. You can bring back the natural wood you want so much with a bit of effort. But if you want it already done, be prepared to open your wallet.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 7:12AM
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cearbhaill

"A couple still have decedents of the original owners still living there. "

I REALLY hope you meant "descendants."
Otherwise... ewww!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 7:23AM
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Ann71

I don't think the trim on my 1920s house is original. It's definitely white. While I think original wood trim looks great, I think in my house it would look too dark.

I wouldn't paint it if I had it, but I don't mind shiny white trim either, after moving out of a 1940s house where the windowsills grew mold and were gray even after cleaning.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 6:14PM
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xamsx

I stripped all the woodwork in my old 1920s house. In the upstairs hallway there were at least 25 layers of paint including: pink, aqua and mint green. While I too prefer natural woodwork (stained and polyurethaned), white paint isn't the worst thing that can be applied to woodwork.

Whatever house you buy, kashka_kat, you can strip and stain the woodwork yourself. Don't let painted woodwork deter you from buying a house that suits you in every other way.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 8:07PM
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redcurls

See how different we all are?.... I CAN'T STAND woodwork any other color. I actually enjoy the challenge of keeping it pristine.

This post was edited by redcurls on Sun, Oct 20, 13 at 23:32

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 11:30PM
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christopherh

"...I REALLY hope you meant "descendants."
Otherwise... ewww!..."

Dang computer! It doesn't know how to spell!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 7:22AM
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oklahomarose

Hi. OP, I really hope you find your darling grandma house. I have a 1920s bungalow. It gets a lot of natural light, and I like various shades of soothing white paint on the trim to enhance the brightness--Antique White, Swiss Coffee, colors like that....it enhances the charm. My bedroom and study are a soft sage green. The off-white trim seems to go well with it.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 5:41PM
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liriodendron

I've actually got the decedents of the early owners living here on my farm. But fortunately they stay out of doors, and underground in their cemetery plots.

L.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 5:54PM
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powermuffin

My house is 100+ years old and had the trim badly painted white. I stripped it all and it is beautiful. I have no illusions that ours will stay stained after we go.

I do like white trim as well. White trim looks good with almost every wall color, stained trim is much harder to coordinate with.

I have noticed when looking at home decor publications that almost every room pictured has white or light trim. I very rarely see stained trim in books or magazines unless it is something that publishes Craftsman style homes.

The popularity of white trim induces sellers to paint their trim and real estate agents to recommend it.
Diane

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 1:33PM
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thatgirl2478

In our case it was already painted an ugly poo brown... so we just painted it white to make it look nicer!

That said, in the areas where it WASN'T painted, we didn't paint it. :)

This post was edited by thatgirl2478 on Tue, Nov 5, 13 at 14:22

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 12:18PM
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cat_ky

Four years ago, we bought this house, built in 1968, and 3/4 of it was painted white woodwork. The kitchen, dining room and hall, they hadnt gotten to yet, thankfully. The trim is actually a very good quality for being built in 1968 and I loved the dark stained woodwork. Hall side doors are also stained, but interior doors were all painted white too. I have been slowly painting all the white painted trim, a very dark charcoal, which I do like, but, sure wish they had left it alone. We actually offered less on the house, because of the painted woodwork. I like white woodwork in someone elses house, but, I hate it in mine.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 4:59PM
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kashka_kat

After a lot more looking at listings, I'd like to revise my original post to read: painted woodwork - well ok, if you must.

But stop ripping out the original wide wood trim and replacing with ugly thin strips of wood! And how about getting replacement windows (if you must) that actually are sized to fit the openings - what a concept.

The thing is, I think people respond positively to visual cohesiveness and architectural integrity ( and in an early 1900s house that would mean generously sized woodwork, big windows, etc.) whether or not they have the language or awareness to say why, It seems like the houses that languish for months (in all price ranges) are the ones that have been severely remuddled - eg they put in teeny tiny windows so the house starts looking more like a shed or a bunker than a house.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:30AM
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kashka_kat

Cat, interesting that you considered the condition of your wood trim when making an offer. I think I'll get cost estimates for the milling of wide width pine trim and have that be part of my calculations about whether to purchase a house or not (I can do my own installation). Actually I think there's some ready made wide trim that's veneer over particle board that isn't too terribly expensive. Yeah, I guess we all have our must haves - for some of us visual cohesiveness is important.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:42AM
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scarlett2001

I just spent a few years stripping old paint off the woodwork in our 1923 home - a job from Hell! I would never paint over good, solid old woodwork again.

Recently, we looked at a brand new house being built. Some of the baseboard was still on the floor, not yet installed. It was made of thin plastic, reinforced with corrugated cardboard! That's why I prefer old houses. You may have to restore, but underneath, you don't have crap.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 3:31AM
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Acadiafun

DH stipped all the old paint of the oak woodwork in first floor of the house and it was gorgeous and easy to care for. I would oil it every two years. The white painted woodwork upstairs was horrible. It stops looking fresh and clean in no time when you have kids and dogs. I also don't like painted wood interior doors for the same reason.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 7:27AM
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geoffrey_b

Peel Away - pretty good stuff - finish off with Zip Strip and steel wool.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peel Away Paint Remover.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 10:47AM
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kashka_kat

Actually if the original layer of shellac is still there under the paint it's very easy to remove via heat gun (just melts like butter) and finish off with denatured alcohol. If shellac has been removed prior to painting its a nightmare - paint gets in the pores of the wood which may not be possible to get out

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 12:05PM
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