Painting woodwork

bonnieann925July 17, 2014

DD just bought a condo and everything has been nicely updated, except all the woodwork. I think it is gum wood, given the age and area of the house. DD is adamant that it all must be painted. Any and all tips are gratefully appreciated.

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My advice: don't do it. It looks very nice as is and painting it will be time consuming. It would all have to be primed first, then painted.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:17AM
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I like the wood trim. Is the finish in good condition?
Are you painting the walls as well?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:26AM
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I am struggling with this as well. I want to paint our trim. Our windows are wood too though and I think that to paint them would not be good because they will chip as opened and closed. So then I get stuck in this loop thinking maybe I better not paint.

Thefoxes pad posted these transformations though that really have me read to paint!

I really want to do our kitchen cabinets too. trying to convince DH :)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:39AM
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It's a beautiful place. I'm sure the wood trim is fine, but I would prefer painted white myself. That being said, the rooms are going to look a lot different with furniture, rugs, and window treatments if she plans on using them. I'd wait and see how everything looks. While it would be easier in an empty house, you'd only need to be moving things away from the walls to paint later.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:58AM
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Thanks all! To answer your question Shmoo, the woodwork is in great shape. The walls are freshly painted white, with the exception of the master BR , which is a pale blue. DD wants to paint the living and dining rooms a medium to dark blue and the woodwork/trim white.

We are on the Cape this week, and one of my projects has been to prime and paint an additional dining room chair. It is sanded and primed, ready to receive the first coat of white paint. I am not afraid of painting wood and have done my fair share over the years, but the condo might require a pro. This chair has been SO much work!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:49PM
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I agree with your DD and would paint the trim. I would sand lightly (you don't have to but I like to get it a little extra tooth) use Benjamin Moore Auqa Lock primer and top coat with two coats of BM Latex Enamel.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 3:00PM
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It always looks better painted first. I have lived in two homes in which we stripped the painted woodwork because white painted woodwork needs constant cleaning and upkeep to look nice. Maybe I am just a clean freak, but IMHO I can see dirt start to collect in white baseboards in a matter of months.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 3:07PM
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Beautiful room. I would paint the trim, but I am not a fan of natural wood trim. I can appreciate it, but it isn't my preference. I think a blue room with white trim will be beautiful.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 3:26PM
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Dirt doesn't discriminate and will collect on all trim surfaces. White trim just does a better job at reminding you when it's time to clean.

I like white trim, and believe the wood trim in the photo, particularly the baseboards and the thin crown moulding, break up the space. However, I agree with linelle and would move in first and get a "feel" for the space.

Having a professional paint the woodwork will be expensive. If she does it herself, it will be a long, painstaking process, but very satisfying in the end.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 3:35PM
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I like white woodwork too, so I would also want to paint all of it.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 6:57PM
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Painting trim is tedious, but very do-able even for a novice. Priming is the key. The current stain might be oil based so a good primer is the "link" between oil and latex paint. Also, purchase lots of blue painter's tape.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:01AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I wouldn't paint the trim at all.

  • It looks very nice and is a wonderful medium wood tone... not too dark, not too light.
  • If you add window treatments you won't see much of it anyway.
  • Painting the room is a breeze if you don't have to paint the woodwork too. So any time you want to change room colors it is so much faster.
  • Every time you paint woodwork, you add more gunk to the windows making them harder to operate and filling in the detail in the woodwork making it less attractive.
  • Every ding and dent in the woodwork that chips the paint will be very obvious as the wood will show through. If you leave it natural, the bumps won't show at all.
  • If you ever change your mind and want to go back to the woodwork, it's a nightmare physically and chemically to get there, and the wood will be damaged in the process.

It ain't broke...please don't fix it...

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:25AM
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Just a point about chipping paint:
Mostly, painted woodworks just sits there, away from the fray, and unless it is some incredibly cheap paint, certainly not decomposing daily. How many chips does anyone get on their woodwork? I see this comment many times in these discussions about whether or not to paint trim, and I have to say that except for a few spots in my white kitchen where my grandson kicks his feet at the cabinet underneath the counter overhang, paint lasts a long time. This fallacy about chipping paint shouldn't be a reason to live with a finish you don't like.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:34AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

My mother painted over her very dark woodwork and given the damage we kids, pets, etc. inflicted, there were always dark dings left where the paint chipped. It is so in my memory that any time I think of painting over stained woodwork, I think of dark dings.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:41AM
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Gum wood trim is a valuable original home detail. It will lower the value of the home to not keep that original. Things are only original once. Alterations that deviate from that should be approached with a lot of thought as to their consequences.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:22AM
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if it were me, i would leave as is except for the skinny little line of trim along the ceiling... i don't care for that at all- i guess especially with the white walls. i would either remove it or paint it either the wall color or the ceiling color...

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:10AM
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Get some quotes for having it done professionally ... pick the highest two and show them to the DD. Ask her when she'll have the money ready for the painters.

Well-done gumwood is an asset. Why does she think it needs to be painted?

Painting woodwork is tedious

1 - Clean it thoroughly with mild soap and water and rinse
2 - sand it lightly to de-gloss the finish that is there
3 - Vacuum and wipe with a damp cloth to remove dust.
3 - Prime it let it dry
4 - apply the color coat Let it dry

Touch up the dings regularly

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:20AM
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When we replaced our windows and doors/jambs/moldings, we had them stained (we used clear, or stain-grade wood). At the time, we liked the look, and we also hated the inevitable touch-ups required (especially on and around windows and doors, given the wear and tear they can be subjected to). In some rooms, I'd probably prefer the look of painted woodwork, but I know I much prefer the ease of touching up dings and nicks with a marker pen.

In your daughter's home, I would definitely paint over the thin strip of trim at the ceiling and see if that makes enough of a difference for her. We have painted base molding in our house, but I kind of like your daughter's stained base molding. If she's still unhappy with the look, perhaps just paint the base molding, and see if that works. You can always paint the rest if she still hates it.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 12:29PM
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Okay then, first she would have to prime the wood and choose a white of her choosing. She can choose to tape off the windows or scrape them afterwards. I always recommend taping. One coat of primer ( a good brand) and then one or two coats of paint, you can use semi gloss or gloss. I prefer semi but I did one of my bathrooms in gloss and like it better now so it's up to the individual. I love crispy white trim, especially with blues. Go for it and make the room shine.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 12:53PM
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Am I understanding that your daughter has already made the decision to paint the trim and you are asking for advice on how-to/tips, etc. on doing that? You are not asking if you should or should not paint the trim - right?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:16PM
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You only live once ... why live with something you don't love? What, for some future buyer that might never come?

If she has the time and/or budget, she should paint it.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:31PM
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Correct Tina. She has her mind made up. Simply looking for tips. I'm supportive of what she wants in her first home.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:32PM
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Correct Tina. She has her mind made up. Simply looking for tips. I'm supportive of what she wants in her first home.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:38PM
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I agree with everyone who agrees with your daughter. Ha! The secret to getting a great job is prepping then priming with a top grade primer, then use top of the line paint. And a very good brush. I hope she'll buy primer and paint from a good paint store and not settle for a big box product.

Lovely looking place. Know she is proud of it.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:59PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Remove the gumwood and install new cheap paint grade trim if you're gonna paint. That clear stain grade gum goes for big bucks for salvage. And it's not so easy to find.

It's like someone painting over Renoir because it's color doesn't ''go'' with the sofa. Good bones stand on their own and need not coordinate with the furnishings.

After the new trim is istalled, it's the standard, sand, prime, sand, paint 1st coat, paint second coat. Labor intensive time on a ladder and your knees. And that's why it's not at all cheap to have a pro do properly. If the pro's quote doesn't include all of the sanding and coats, then they aren't worth talking to any further.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:32PM
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The woodwork is lovely. I'd hate to see it painted but I prefer natural or stained wood vs painted wood. But I really hate to see older homes that had beautiful woodwork that has now been painted. It's kind of like that phase people went through when they felt compelled to cover up every wood floor with carpet. Look how that turned out.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:07AM
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My tip is to apply shellac to every inch of that trim before you paint it so that the next owner can strip your paint off easily. The next owner will have a much easier time getting the paint off if it's been shellaced.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:21AM
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I am currently in the process of replacing my builders grade trim with preprimed MDF. Affordable and one less step since it is already primed. Your daughter could just purchase MDF baseboard and paint the window and door trim herself. Half the work.

Also, at the advice of my local Ben Moore dealer I am using Satin Impervo Enamel for my window trim. She said it will hold up much better than latex. I painted a couple of windows with Impervo latex a couple of years ago and the sills are showing wear. I am thinking of re-priming and painting just the sills with enamel (which looks like a dream when completed but is a bit harder to deal with).

Good luck to her and congrats on the new condo. It will be her home to enjoy and she should do what she wants to make it her own.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 2:30PM
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I was thinking of this thread while looking at this. It's a well-used doorway in my family home, which we are in the process of selling. Interestingly the paint that isn't chipped is in great condition - old oil paint! I believe the groove near the bottom was worn by my Mom when she was using her motorized scooter.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:22PM
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I would only paint the trim at the ceiling.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:07AM
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I did this. Here's how. I only sanded the areas of my stained woodwork that had nicks and gouges to smooth them out. I did not "scuff up" everything. My understanding is that's not really needed if the correct primer is used. I used a recommended primer for wood. Don't remember which one, but, I have used Kilz for wood in the past. The correct primer is extremely important. I washed everything down. I also used a tack cloth just prior to priming to make sure I got all the little airborne dust or sanding particles that could still be on the wood. After priming I used Sherwin Williams Proclassic water base acrylic alkyd paint in a satin sheen. This acrylic alkyd is called a
"hybrid" paint because it has a little longer leveling time so it acts like an oil base, but actually is water base. It's not cheap paint. I used a good quality angled softer bristle brush. I like a 2" brush, even smaller for window muntins and mullions. To further extend the open time to eliminate brush strokes and to thin the paint a little, I added a product called Floetrol to my small paint bucket. Follow directions. This product is readily available in an orange plastic type bottle. Great stuff. Don't try and put the paint on heavy, do thin coats. The Floetrol will help thin the paint just a bit so it doesn't go on real thick. Remember thin coats. Check for drips, and then check again. Don't paint out of the can. Buy one of those little paint containers with a handle. So much easier, plus it's better to keep a lid on the paint you're not using.
I painted my trim and my wood windows. I never had a problem with chipping or being able to open and close windows. You must remember that it will take a couple weeks for the paint to fully cure. So chipping can more easily occur during this time, so take some care if moving furniture. And if it does then touch it up! After living with stained wood for so long, I just got tired of it. Yes, painting wood trim is time consuming, but no, definitely not physically difficult and I am in my late 50's. I just downloaded some interesting podcasts and learned some new things while I painted away!
I understand Ben Moore sells a paint called Advance that is like a hybrid paint. I have never used it, so can't comment on it. Any Ben Moore or Sherwin Williams store will be more than happy to answer all your questions.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 3:22PM
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Any woodwork that is near the kitchen or bathroom, or in doorways needs to be scrubbed with TSP before it is primed. I just did my kitchen cabinets and scrubbed them with "tsp substitute" from Walmart and a green scotchbrite tab. So much gunk came off - maybe some of it old finish. But you def. do not want that stuff sloughing off under your paint. My hubby goes around periodically with some kind of oily wood conditioner to cover the dings in the wood. If I were to paint over that it would all come peeling off!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 3:42PM
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I see this is an older thread and was wondering what your daughter ended up doing? This is always an interesting debate...some people think painting wood is such a sacrilege, and others just go with what pleases them aesthetically. I also painted my honey oak kitchen cabinets, which is so popular right now for people that are on a budget. I'm sure they were snazzy in 1985 but they weren't working for the style I like now. Maybe when we sell this house in twenty years or so the trend for oak cabinets will come back around, and the new owners will be horrified I painted them. what can you do!?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 3:45PM
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If your dd hasn't already embarked on this job, here is my best tip: don't sand except In very specific areas that have noticeable dents or dings. Instead, use a liquid deglosser. It's much easier and less mess than sanding, and the project will look better at finish.

Degloss, wipe down, prime, and paint at least two coats. She should use the best paint she can afford. White trim against navy blue walls will be beautiful!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 7:33PM
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