To Paint or Not To Paint Historical Trim

There was one decision in this Dining Room makeover that we’ve debated and debated.  I’m almost fearful to broach this subject as I know some of you have very strong opinions on this matter.

Hold the hate mail.  I understand your point.

One of the things I love most about this room is its sense of history.

dining room

The dark wood trim was original in 1927.  Part of me loved it a lot.  And, my husband didn’t want to change it for the longest time.  Then, he warmed up to the idea.  I researched and researched room ideas with dark wood trim.  But, you know what?  I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work.

It always looked to me like it was an outfit with an out-of-place belt.  {I know.  What’s with me and my clothes analogies lately??}

There was another huge factor as to why we ended up painting out this trim.

It’s summed up in an event that happened soon after we moved into this home.  A friend was over visiting and I was giving her a tour.  We were in the dining room discussing the trim and the fact that my husband wanted to leave it the way it was.

“Oh, but, Rita,” she replied,

“it looks terrible!!”

We laughed.  Because, it did!

It wasn’t pretty and pristine, but instead, crackled, chipped, stained, and dirty.

window sills before

I haven’t done much refinishing, but  enough to know I really, really hate it.  If this trim were to be beautiful again as a stained wood finish, it was going to be a whole lot of work.


we could paint it and make it look fresh and clean.


We decided to paint it.  I first taped off the panes and primed it all with Kilz oil based cover paint.  This is very important!  (Remember a room needs to have the proper undercoates!)


We took off all the hardware and painted the ones that opened while open.  {Thankfully the weather co-operated!}

Once the inner panes were primed, we primed all the dark outer trim.


{Before priming.}


{After priming.}

Once the wood is primed with oil base primer, you can then paint it with latex paint and it’ll cover like a charm.  If you use a water based primer, the danger is that the dark stain of the wood will bleed through the latex paint no matter how many coats you do.  (Also, a lesson I learned the hard way!)

Oh, and a tip if you need to paint anything with oil based paint?  Buy cheap brushes that you can throw away afterward.  I like to avoid cleaning out brushes with all that stinky stuff.

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  1. I understand the dilemma…to paint or not to paint. Especially when the rest of the house has painted trimwork. But in this case I think I would’ve painted it too.

  2. I agree about the brushes. Luke and I just redid our dining room table(can’t wait to show you the pics) Dave was stressing because I just kept throwing out….perfectly good $store brushes.haha

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