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Baseboards: Repaint or stain after stripping these

I have these baseboards throughout my 100 year old (1909) american four-square. All are painted with several layers of lead paint and a layer or two of latex. I'm working on an upstairs bedroom and stripped one 14' section as a trial. I haven't yet sanded or gotten the last bits of paint but...

few questions:

1. Can anyone identify likely species candidates for this wood for me?
2. Opinion: finish with stain/poly (or shellac, etc) or prime/paint?

There's another more curved piece that goes on top so the actual baseboards arent as plain looking as this piece. I'm asking because at this point I can't imagine whether it would look good finished without paint. It was definitely not painted originally, but there's also a section in the upstairs hallway that's unpainted that basically looks just like this section color-wise and has never impressed me much, though maybe that's because it's a bit beat up (it's a candidate for a refinish as well).

Re: Baseboards: Repaint or stain after stripping these

It is a yellow pine but exactly which one is not clear.

It could be locally milled when house was built. I have the same thing in my 120 yr old house.

What area of the country are you located in?

Re: Baseboards: Repaint or stain after stripping these

A quick question from someone who doesn't own an old house. I suppose one wants to keep the old woodwork on an old house...but when do you decide the work involved is worth it? Asked another way...why not install new? Will I get kicked off of "This Old House Discussions" for asking this question?:)

Re: Baseboards: Repaint or stain after stripping these

We're in an adjacent suburb of Chicago.

I'd consider installing new, though initial discussions with friends of friends who work with old houses have yielded numbers in the thousands to tens of thousands for quality baseboards for the whole house - and that's just for lumber.

My basic philosophy is to leave the house in better shape than I got it, and when replacing/redoing things, to do it correct and use quality materials. My house isn't historically significant in any way (looks to be cookie cutter for the time period) but it's mine and thats how I want it.

The baseboards they have at Home Depot and menards are all much smaller, of designs I dont care for, and made of crappy wood. If I were to redo these, I'd want 6" baseboards in the same or similar style and with a nicely finished hard(er) wood.

But - this is actually what i'm trying to figure out with this post: "is it worth it?" Maybe it is worth it to get some nice baseboards milled, or maybe it's not worth that *or* finishing them and I should concentrate on painting (which is somewhat less work than finishing). Opinions welcome

Re: Baseboards: Repaint or stain after stripping these

As was stated it looks like you have Southern Yellow Pine there. Pine can be a bit of a struggle to stain but it can be done. I had all my eastern white pine trim work milled and then stained it. Most people will recommend using a wood conditioner for pine when staining. I did not because with the conditioner I couldn't achieve the color I wanted. There were only a few pieces that I ended up not using because of blotchy spots.
That being said if you strip them sand them and stain them and didn't like the look you could then paint them. So if you really want the stained look then all you will have put in is a few dollars and your time. If you don't like it it would not be the end of the world.

If you are thinking of replacing the trim altogether you can probably find a mill-work shop in your area that has the molding made up in various species. It won't be cheap but if you are not trying to match anything it will be cheaper than having something custom made. This option might be worth it if you are planing on keeping the house for a long time but if you are going to sell in the next few years just paint what you have and be done with it.


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