I have a home that is about 90 years old and all the Walnut trim in my
house is original, yet needs some TLC in order to bring it back to its
I have never undertaken anything like this, and would like to know if
there are any good resources on the internet that you all can
recommend? I need advice along the lines of stripping vs. cleaning,
and sanding vs. chemical cleaners. Also, i am really fuzzy on whether
or not I would need to re-stain the wood after I either sand it or
strip it. Like I said, I am a rookie.
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
It would help a lot if you post a link to a photo of the woodwork. What
you do re: clean or refinish
depends on condition of the finish, your taste, and the amount of work
you wish to do. I would never
sand old wood unless you want it to look new or it is full of scars, as
sanding removes patina. If it is
merely dirty, you can clean it with cool or tepid water and a mild
detergent. I use Dawn on wood
occasionally, but that is not recommended - just use care to wring out
cloth very well and dry quickly.
Water usually won't harm a wood finish unless it is shellac or is
allowed to soak. Mineral spirits with
a soft cloth or very fine steel wool
is good for old wax and/or greasy dirt. Any attempt should be tested
on an out of the way spot
Whatever you do, don't try to stain without removing the old finish.
Strippers - methylene something -
are very potent, require cleanup with mineral spirits, but do a good
job. I don't care for water bassed
strippers at all, and have refinished lots of wood. It is very messy, a
good deal of time and expense,
and the chemicals are tough - you need very good ventillation. Stripper
will remove old varnish quickly,
along with some old stain but not all of it - the longer it soaks, the
more it draws out. If there are coats
of paint, you multiply the applications and time needed. If practical,
one might take down the woodwork
to be stripped and take it outdoors or to garage. If you strip it in
place, you need to keep the room unoccupied
and put down lots of protection to keep spills from whatever flooring
Walnut can finish, without stain, from a medium to a very dark brown; it
This would be similar to refinishing a piece of furniture--lots of
books available on this topic at your local library. But it would be
more difficult because of the bodily positions required to do the
work. Find out what finish is on your trim. If the trim is inside a
closet or behind a door, you can do some testing there. You will also
need a lot of patience.
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