Profile picture for kevinmocello

Should I paint dark woodwork to appeal to potential buyers?

I have a house built in the mid-70s with lots of darkly-stained woodwork and cabinetry. The wood is pine, so it shows every little ding and insult ever inflicted on it and after 30+ years has lost its original shine. The house is shaded by large trees, so there is not a lot of natural light. The end result is a dark interior appearance.

I have three options: Recondition as best I can the original woodwork and retain the dark stain, paint the woodwork in a lighter color or replace the woodwork and stain it in a much lighter color.

Suggestions?

I've read that when in doubt, you should paint, but I've also read that woodwork is becoming popular again.
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December 18 2008 - Madison
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Answers (20)

I purchased an old cape cod style house in 1988 with dark wood paneling in the living and dining rooms. I used a paint primer called "Kilz" first and then used a Benjamin Moore "navajo white" paint. What a difference...made the 2 rooms look twice as large!
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March 24 2009
Profile picture for Mr Caveat
think of trimming your trees to get the natural light back, in addition to either stripping+ re staining or painting... no, scratched up old cabinets are not a good selling point

if you have many large trees, consider cutting them down... i understand how beautiful large trees are and personally i LOVE nice big trees in one's yard... that said they have a cost that is not apparent sometimes
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March 24 2009
PAINT - and paint it light! with a finish that reflects light. (Talk to a RE expert or paint professional.) Buyers really respond to light. Designers fall in love with color, buyers don't. Also bring in more lights in the rooms and consider trimming the trees at least by the windows.
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March 24 2009
Profile picture for Trump Junior
Ooh,  ooh distressed 70's stained pine.  Love it.  NOT!!!
Yuck Yuck Yuck  fill dings and paint.  No one will ever know how ugly it was.

If you had said walnut or mahogany I wouldn't be painting it.
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March 23 2009
Dark wood is coming back.  Don't paint - spoils the richness of wood.  Either leave alone or strip and restain.  I know it sounds like alot of work but I have done it before.  Good luck! 
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March 23 2009
I would advise painting the wood trim throughout. It will freshen your rooms and make them more appealing. It's one thing to maintain beautiful woodwork from the early 20th century--plenty of beautiful built-in buffets, bookcases, pillars, etc. The 1970's was not our best decade for architectural millwork. Pine floors are another matter. They can be lovely. White, off-white, cream...any of these will work. You might steer clear of any whites that are heavily tinted with another color such as gray, blue, green, etc. 
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February 21 2009
I disagree entirely with the "paint it" advice.  What I've found in my area is that homes kept as close to original as possible have the highest resale value.  People don't want to go into a home and feel like some "flipper" has already gone in there and "fixed" it.  They'd rather call the shots and fix it to their taste.  They feel like they are saving money if someone hasn't painted cabinets and millwork because they feel like sellers are charging a premium when they do that kind of work.  Right now, I would advise anyone to do as little as possible beyond cleaning a home up for resale and fixing any obvious stuff like a leaky roof.

As for dark '70's trim, old english really does wonders to make that stuff look pretty decent.  Remember, you don't want white trim on white walls.  You want some contrast to draw the eye.
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February 10 2009
Profile picture for magic1872
probably already painted the woodwork. We my wife and I looked for our first house we looked for woodwork that was NOT painted. We believe that painted wood work looks cheap, one of the main reason we decided to put our house was becuase of the beautiful dark woodwork.
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February 07 2009
I agree on painting the woodwork - also the latest trend is not bright white for trim - but a warm cream color.  Also, if you paint with semi gloss, every nick and ding will show more -- use a top quality paint with a eggshell finish and it will hide those imperfections more completely.  Don't scrimp on primer or sanding either for lasting results!
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February 07 2009
Don't be afraid to paint!  Go for it!  The 70s are not known for beautiful woodwork--chances are it's plain, simple and not an asset if it's dark.
Homeowners are looking for homes that feel like they have been maintained AND UPDATED.  It will probably be the single biggest change to make to your home (besides dated light fixtures and kitchens and baths) to make your home feel light, bright and move-in ready.
Good Luck!
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February 06 2009
Before painting, make sure you lightly sand and prime the wood with a good product like Kilz. Unlike hardwoods, pine can bleed through some paints and the Kilz will prevent that from happening. Painting woodwork with a white semi gloss finish and painting the walls a darker shade will really brighten a room and cause the woodwork to 'pop'. 
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February 01 2009
Wood work is like wood flooring, it makes a house a home.  Try some old english on a rag old.  You will be amazed at the way it blends in scratches and knicks.  Also find out what finish it is and buy a small can of it.  Put some on a rag and wipe it on.  The longer you leave it on the deeper the color will get.  Do a few test areas. 
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February 01 2009
Hi Kevin-

By all means, get rid of that dark wood. What happens to all of us is that we are bombarded by imagery from TV, magazines, movies, etc. Certain looks and trends are current and through repeated exposure to these "looks" we accept them as timely. When I walk into a house that has stained trim I consciously say to myself that this is a house that has not been updated in 20+ years. Then the next thing I say is, "what else in this house has not been maintained...the heating, the roof, appliances, etc." You get my drift. If you want to see your house, invest in sweat equity and paint or replace and paint. P.S. Guys love natural wood, women don't. The guys may fund the purchase but the woman buys the house...remember that and you will be on the way to a sale.

Rodd
http://www.exterior-house-paint-colors.com
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February 01 2009
Profile picture for BungalowMo
Are you sure it's stained&not a shellac??  Shellac can be easily removed with a scrubby & denatured alcohol. (and definitely rubber gloves...ask me how I know)

The pine might be a nice light touch to the room without using paint.

Just another option......
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January 15 2009
I agree with others advice here to paint, it's pine, not cherry or other wood possibly worth the effort of stripping and re-finishing. Prep it well and use a high gloss quality paint. I like Behr at HD or Hallman Lindsay as a Wisconsin paint manufacturer.
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January 06 2009
Profile picture for Melody91
Kevin-

Two years ago I needed to sell a home that had all the natural cherry wood trim. Most people loved that finish, which I needed re-done (and it stank temporarily) as it was not consistently beautiful. However, that unit also had a matching built in china closet and lots of Light. I painted the walls very Light.

In your situation, I would agree with the other comments.
With dark light, and dark 30 year old pine, you might turn off potential buyers who would not be able to see though to the potential of a brighter and more timely look, ALSO gaining you more in your asking price.

While others here advised you and know the "HOW TO" below, I mostly know WHAT IS DESIRABLE for certain people with certain tastes in the market, and what would interest me.

The good folks on HGTV share with us a great deal...I do not believe I have even once see them keep old pine as it was. (Sometimes they cleverly re-use the wood in innovative ways, which I do admire for conservation, saving cost of materials, and leaving something that was original to the house). Lots of luck!
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December 22 2008
If you do paint the woodwork make sure to wash it with a TSP (trisodium phosphate substitute) it will remove grease and reduce tannin bleed through from the wood.  Make sure to use a good primer as well.  Many will shy away from oil but I have found it's the only primer that will consistently hold back the brown stains from the natural oils in the wood.  
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December 18 2008
I go with the others. Paint the woodwork, especially since you say that there isn't a lot of natural light. Having the room "light and bright" is more important than even fashionable woodwork; it's always in style! 
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December 18 2008
Profile picture for Ladybreck
Sand off the cabinets, repair any bad dings and paint a nice off white and add new hardware. It will lighten everything up and stand out. Buyers like it to be light and bright. I also have stained dark wood trim throughout my home. But my walls are light tans and I have lots of natural light.
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December 18 2008
Hi Kevin,

You can try a couple of options.  You can use paint thinner on a rag and and wipe the woodwork to see if the old laquer will spread out and cover the the dings.  If that doesn't work, painting a rich off-white color would be much less expensive than replacing.  One of my favorite woodwork colors is Natural Wicker by Benjamin Moore.

Best of luck! 

Sallie

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December 18 2008
 
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