Refinish or Paint? The Pros and Cons of Woodwork Finishes

Do you have natural or stained woodwork?  Is it looking dull, scuffed and in need of something to make it look good?

If it is, you’re probably asking yourself  “Should I refresh the stain, strip the woodwork or put on a coat of paint?

The answer is it depends.

Maybe you’re looking at your trim and thinking that it’s dated.   Fashions in interior design choices change.  Your first consideration should be the look you want.   If you want to completely change the color of your woodwork – say from walnut stain to white  – then painted woodwork may be the simplest, easiest way to accomplish that.

But if you really love natural wood trim – it’s just that your trim is a bit worn and drab – then you may want to consider reviving that natural wood look.  Many of the people I talk with who call for estimates on painting or refinishing trim just want a color change.

Usually there are a couple of options they’re considering:

  • Painted white trim
  • Darker stained trim
  • Stripping the trim to go lighter in color
  • Painting the trim to match the wall color


Is there one best choice?  Not really.   And while I love paint and what it can do to make your home’s interior a very special, personal space where you can relax and recharge, I also know that any paint will lose durability over time.  Paint also chips no matter how careful you are. (Trust me on this… my brothers and I chipped a lot of paint in my parent’s home while we were growing up.)

It’s labor intensive to paint woodwork and it can be expensive because you have the cost of primer, paint and, if you’re hiring it done, labor. In a room that takes eight hours to paint, we usually find that it can take up to twice that amount of time – usually 12 to 16 hours to prime and paint the trim.


But what about reviving your trim yet keeping the natural wood look. You’re probably thinking “Isn’t that labor intensive?”  And you may be wondering “How do I do that – it’s all been covered with polyurethane?”

Reviving trim is much simpler than you would think.  There are some great new products on the market that you can just wipe over your trim to revive it.   It does take proper advance preparation – taping off walls and window panes and putting down proper floor protection, but it’s not at all labor intensive like the old shellacs and varnishes. The product I particularly like is Restor-A-Finish.

Here are some options to consider when you’re making the decision whether to keep your trim stained or paint it.
1.      Refreshing the trim color you have now.  Over time stain, like everything else, fades.   You might fall in love with your trim again if you revived the color to the one you originally chose.

2.      Staining your trim a darker color.   Yes, this takes work but it’s not as labor intensive as painting trim.

3.      Stripping your trim and starting with a new, lighter color – maybe a pickling stain or one with a slight tint.  This is a more labor intensive project, but if you really want a change yet want to keep the warmth of wood in your home this may be the best option.

In the end your decision should be based on what will make you happy and your home lovely.  Do you prefer the look of wood – stained or natural – or are you a big fan of painted trim?

10 Simple Steps To Remove Wallpaper Like A Pro

Wallpaper is meant to come down like it went up – in full sheets, not in a thousand small pieces.  Here’s my simple DIY guide to removing wallpaper like a pro.

Once you’ve got that old wallpaper down you’re ready to take the next step – paint the walls in an entirely new home decoration scheme that will make your house look like you’re an expert in interior design!

10 Simple Steps To Wallpaper Removal

Step 1 – Score wallpaper with Paper Tiger.

Step 2 – Saturate wall with wallpaper removal solution.  A pump up garden sprayer makes this step a lot easier.

Step 3 – Let the walls soak for at least 10 minutes.  Mist walls if necessary – just don’t let the solution dry out.

Step 4 – Grab a lower corner of paper and start to remove.  If it doesn’t come down in a full sheet, stop and repeat Step 2.

Step 5 – If any paper backing remains after removing the face paper repeat steps 2 and step 3.  A wall scraper is helpful to remove any excess paper and glue.  Take care not to gouge the wall as you use the scraper or you will leave yourself with a lot of drywall repair.

Step 6 – After all wallpaper is removed scrub down the walls with green scrubby and wallpaper removal solution.  This will remove excess paste.

Step 7 – Soak clean rags in fresh water and wipe down walls.

Step 8 – Prime walls with a good sealing primer like Smart Prime from Zinsser.  This will help seal up any remaining glue and prepare your surface for paint.

Step 9 – Repair any drywall damage, spot prime repairs and apply two coats of paint.

Step 10 – Step back, crack a beer and admire your masterpiece!

DB’s Super Secret Wallpaper Removal Solution

Shared only with people who buy my wallpaper removal DVD – and of course viewers of ReVibe on 7&4!

Wallpaper Removal Solution(enough for a 12 x 12 room)

– 11 quarts of hot water – the hotter the better!!!
– 1/4 cup of liquid fabric softener
– 2 table spoons of baking soda
– 22 ounces of DIF* solution
– 1 cup white vinegar
– 1 three gallon pump up sprayer

*DIF can be found at Northwood Paint (1299 S. Airport W, TC) along with the rest of the supplies you will need listed below.

Supplies: one three gallon garden sprayer, rubber backed drop clothes to protect floor, lots of old towels, masking tape, sheet plastic, Zinsser Paper Tiger, wall scraper, paper wall scraper, one quart measuring cup,
five gallon pail, large funnel, green scrubby