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Painting Over Gel Stained Trim

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Brownstone Molding Painter

There is something to be said for natural wood – the warmth, history, grain, original, the genuine article. As wonderful as that all sounds, old trim with a dark stain can dull a space, especially molding which has multiple coats of old gel stain on it. The new owner of this brownstone was understandably conflicted between restoring the wide, solid molding to its former glory and brightening the space with new paint.

The good news is that freshly painted trim in this classic style – broad, thick, substantial molding with rosette corners – retains the architectural character while freshening the room. High quality, solid wood casings like these are just as beautiful dressed in white because the grooves, corner rosettes and panels below the windows retain their sculptured style.

Gel stain is a wonderful, oil-based, varnish product. It is thicker than traditional wood stain and rests on the wood rather than being absorbed into it. It does, however, present a challenge to the most professional of painters when it no longer fits the overall décor scheme. Sanding is step two – protecting floors and anything else in the room or adjacent spaces is always step one. It takes considerable sanding to work through the gel stain and/or scuff it enough to accept the appropriate primer which serves as a bonding agent between the newly prepped trim and its bright new paint coats. We completed this job on a tight deadline for the new owner’s move-in date, and the radiant result quite perfectly exudes a stately style.

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