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Wood can give character and warmth to your home, but it can also date it. It can be difficult to know the difference, especially when you have been living with it for a long time. Many people are very attached to the wood in their home and the thought of painting it makes them shudder, but sometimes that is all that is necessary to bring your home into the current decade. Paint is a lot cheaper than new cabinetry, or ripping out walls. Let me give you some ideas about when you might want to paint it and when you might be able to leave it alone and perhaps change something else that will make the wood look better.
Oak Cabinets - Pickled or Golden
Pickled oak or golden oak were very popular choices for those of you who have it, it's not so trendy anymore. Since kitchens and bathrooms typically sell the house, you will need to do something about the oak, and you are not likely wanting to invest in new cabinets right before you move. Sometimes just changing the other decor around the oak, makes it seem less prominent. In the picture shown here, brass knobs were replace by dark bronze and a new backsplash and counter were installed. Suddenly the cabinets look pretty good.
Sometimes painting is the best thing to do. If you cannot afford to change what is around the cabinets, then painting just might be your best option for updating. Give cabinets a good clean with TSP and a light sanding. Prime with a high quality primer and lay on the paint. I would still upgrade the hardware if you can. Sometimes just spray painting the old hardware black or silver will do the trick as well.
Another option, although more work, is re-staining in a more current shade. This does require stripping, so the amount of effort you want to put into it may determine whether paint or stain is the way for you to go.
This picture shows a bathroom that had dark oak cabinetry with dated hardware. Unfortunately, the dusty rose tile floor and other decor was not going to draw your eye away from the cabinets. A paint colour was chosen that made all of the other bathroom colours work and it definitely freshened up the cabinets. The second bathroom was similarly dated, with stenciling everywhere and oak paneled cabinetry and even an oak paneled bathtub. Paint makes it look updated and fresh.
That 70's Paneling
I think everyone has seen this horrendous misrepresentation of wood that was used in the 70's. You can remove it if you like, but what lurks beneath? Some renovations were often quickly and easily completed by only using only paneling. This means, if you remove it, you are going to have to drywall. If there is drywall beneath, how damaged is it going to bewhen you remove the paneling?
If you have this stuff, my answer is to always paint it. Fill any nail holes. Caulk the seams between the sheets. Give it a good clean and primer and then paint away in a neutral colour. The vertical strips may not even be noticed, or they might be useful in a new decorating scheme.
Do be careful. Some very cheap paneling is not wood, but is only a picture of wood on paper, adhered to a backing. It is advisable to use an oil-based primer over this type of paneling to seal it. You can still paint latex paint over the oil primer. Using latex directly on top of the cheap paneling, may cause the paper layer to bubble or peel.
Another popular type of paneling from the 70's is tongue and groove pine or cedar, often installed on the diagonal. Similar to the above mentioned paneling, this was often installed straight over studs, but it may have been installed over walls that were in poor condition. Again, instead of removing it, you can neutralize it by giving it a good clean, a light sand, primer and paint. While it probably stood out as a focal wall in the beginning, painting it out the same colour as the rest of the room, often is enough to make it disappear.
Unless you want to highlight the grooves in either of these types of paneling to enhance a cottagey theme, I suggest going for flatter paints. I will reduce the visibility of texture and grooves. If you need to want to get rid of the grooves completely, you can drywall, or do a skim coat of plaster over the paneling. See the Before and After below:
Painting out the Woodwork or Painting Some
Sometimes there is just TOO much wood. Some people believe that it is not possible to have too much, but I disagree. If it seems there is so much wood that it is no longer a feature, or if there are too many different types or colours of wood going on, I suggest painting at least some of it. If you have built-in wood cabinetry, and shelving and mantel and floor and trim and baseboards, it may just be too much or perhaps too dark, depending on the stain. You may want to think about just painting out the trim and baseboards, or just painting out the mantel. This may let the other wood features really stand out and become a feature in the home. White is usually my preference, but don't pick the standard "trim white" paint. It is often to stark and cold. Select a white that has some warmth to it and then be consistent in this colour throughout the house.
If you have wood floors, I would always suggest you leave them as-is, unless they are in very bad shape. Sometimes a strategically place area rug can help draw attention away from a worn floor, but sometimes there is no hope. If you cannot afford to refinish the floor, or if there is not enough hardwood left to refinish, painting is an option. Get advice about the best type of paint to use and make sure you give it time to cure before putting rugs or furniture on it.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.