Paint trim white or not?
Jamie N
September 18, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We just bought a house. Previous owner put up some very nice oak trim. Floors are original, with a dark stain which we like. We cannot afford to get the floors redone right now. We don't like the "mismatched" floors and trim so we were thinking of painting the trim white.

When a painter came to take a look and he was very surprised we would paint the trim since it was so well done and really nice oak. He suggested redoing floors to match trim.

Staining the oak to match floors would be very labor intensive, so it is unlikely we would do this.

As you can see from pictures the staircase is also a nice dark trim.

Now I am filled with doubt. What do you think??

Do we:

1. paint trim white and "ruin" the oak, leave floors with dark stain.

2. Don't paint trim, live with mismatched floor/trim until we can redo everything to match.

3. other suggestions?
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shelleyuk
Personally I'd do all the trim white. The reddish oak colour doesn't go with the floor at all and even if the floor was redone the wooden trim would still look dated to me (but I'm in the UK where trim tends to be white) White trim and dark floors looks lovely.
September 18, 2013 at 10:44AM        Thanked by Jamie N
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Doors For Builders Inc
We agree with @shelleyuk. White trim can look great with dark floors and doors. Here is an example below. Best of luck!
September 18, 2013 at 10:59AM        Thanked by Jamie N
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karemore55
I agree with the above opinions - go ahead and paint out the trim, and don't feel guilty about it!
September 18, 2013 at 11:01AM        Thanked by Jamie N
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Jamie N
Thanks everyone. You're right karemore55 I think I do feel guilty painting over someone's work!
September 18, 2013 at 11:04AM     
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lindak2010
That's very typical of someone to say not to paint "good" wood. I live in a similar home as yours and we painted all the trim white. It looks updated, fresh, and nice. I've never regretted our decision to paint it.
September 18, 2013 at 11:11AM        Thanked by Jamie N
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vicnuzz
Paint, Paint, Paint. I'm working on covering up all the wood in my apartment including the floors with white paint. Half-way there and everything looks so much better.
September 18, 2013 at 11:13AM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Maisons Laprise
I agree with people, I would personally paint them white. But you could also dye them a similar color as your floor if you don't want to "ruin" the wood effect.
September 18, 2013 at 11:17AM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Genevieve
Personally I wouldn't go white ,I find it too stark against the wood floor,I would rather go a creamy shade instead ,let me see what i can find,


September 18, 2013 at 11:17AM        Thanked by Jamie N
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tesalot
I would definitely paint it white...makes it fresh, modern and gives a very nice contrast with the dark wood floor. All the best x
September 18, 2013 at 11:21AM        Thanked by Jamie N
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Doors For Builders Inc
Creamy should work too (per @Genevieve). Sometimes we would recommend to leave trim and not to cover it up, but in your situation we think it is for the best to cover it up. The trim is different to your other wood work, and you do have a lot of wood. Painting the trim light color will definitely brighten up the place. Thanks.
September 18, 2013 at 11:30AM        Thanked by Jamie N
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Jenny Jean
I agree with the person who said not to paint over it. That trim is very beautiful and it's natural. Not many can appreciate it plus why paint it white? If you have young children or pets good luck with keeping it clean.
September 18, 2013 at 11:37AM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Jenny Youngblood
I would paint the trim that lovely mushroom/ dark taupe color under the stairs. I think Oak is dated, and this easy fix would really update your home and look beautiful. If you don't like dark trim (which I would also lighten the wall color to a fresh barely white or cream color) the go ahead and paint the trim a nice white- that is a classic traditional look
September 18, 2013 at 11:49AM      Thanked by Jamie N
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decoenthusiaste
Prep the old stuff and paint all of it, saving up for the flooring job later on.
September 18, 2013 at 11:50AM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Jamie N
I really appreciate the quick replies. I have been convinced! I like the suggestions of doing something other than white, I'll check it out!
September 18, 2013 at 12:01PM   
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Jenny Jean
Similar to your current state. Dark floors oak trim
September 18, 2013 at 12:05PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Dar Eckert
I am assuming that the light color trim is finished. If so your best option may be to restrain the light wood a darker color . It is difficult to match the dark color exactly but wood is many tones so you pick one close. the way to do this is to try gel stain such as Minwax. It can be applied over other stains because it does not penetrate the wood. I also noticed that your railings are slightly different color than the floor so you could use min wax to even the color out so they are more closely matched to the new trim. I did this in my home when we installed new flooring. The Minwax was easy to go on although more than one coat would be required on the light oak.

The advantage of this method would be to retain the lovely wood details and you still see wood grain.
September 18, 2013 at 12:06PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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Jamie N
@Jenny Jean, the picture you posted looks good. It looks like we would have to lighten our walls to have the same effect.
September 18, 2013 at 12:15PM   
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Nina Thomson
Staining the oak dark would probably not be much more time consuming or difficult than painting it white. So, if it were me I'd try staining one first to test how it looks because once you paint there is no going back. You can always paint over the stain if you hate it. I don't like the light stain on oak, but a darker stain would be totally appropriate for an older house. Try min wax old English or early American or some thing like that. We were able to easily match our house's original stain on new oak woodwork. I guess it also depends on your personal style preferences.
September 18, 2013 at 12:23PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Jamie N
@Dar Eckert @Nina Thomson would you sand the trim first before applying the gel stain? I'm under the impression that to dye the light oak to match the floor would be very labor intensive due to sanding.
September 18, 2013 at 12:24PM   
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Nina Thomson
Jamie, do you know what the finish is on the new oak woodwork?
September 18, 2013 at 12:28PM   
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salex
Sanding the trim first would give the best results, but you might not have to do that. I often use a de-waxed shellac (SealCoat is the brand name) as a "bonding" coat over an existing finish, and then after the SealCoat I'll apply a gel stain. In this situation the gel stain acts like a thin coat of translucent paint. It's very easy to use - wipe it on thickly, wait a few minutes, and then wipe off the excess.

Good luck - I think the darker wood trim will look gorgeous!
September 18, 2013 at 12:30PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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R Robulock
Bright white trim gives a wonderful contrast against dark wood floor. Whatever you do, don't do anything to the floor, it is beautiful and most people appreciate dark wood flooring. The white trim would also look great with those french doors painted a light mocha color like the dulce leche above.
However, if you plan to re-paint the door a black color again, it would also go great with the bright white trim.
September 18, 2013 at 12:45PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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R Robulock
The stairway would like nice and crisp in black as well!
September 18, 2013 at 12:46PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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0825sam
I think this has been suggested, but I just wanted to cast my vote for painting the new orangey trim some version of white and keeping your floors and the older dark wood in the home.
September 18, 2013 at 12:47PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Dar Eckert
A penetrating stain requires you to remove the old finish and it is very labor intensive. However minwax gel sits on the surface like a paint so extensive sanding is not required. Sanding the surface is the same whether its paint or gel stain. One lightly sands the surface so the paint or gel stain adheres well.
September 18, 2013 at 12:53PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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Dar Eckert
I disagree that oak is very outdated, maybe light oak but dark woodwork against light walls is very current.
September 18, 2013 at 12:56PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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rsm49
I tried painting the trim in a room a dark color one time. It looked terrible. Thankfully, I painted just a few feet before running to the store for white paint. Painting wood white doesn't "ruin" it. If it does, there is a lot of ruined wood around! ( I do know that they mean you can't go back to original stain without great difficulty. :-)) I think white trim is beautiful with dark floors.
September 18, 2013 at 1:00PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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R Robulock
Here it is. I was looking for this pic!

Take it from me, I have a house with dark brown trim, we wanted to hire a painter and he said the paint was actually a stain and we can never paint over it since it does not penetrate and would knick off at the slightest touch.

Well, I painted over the column that separates the dining and family room and the painter was right, I have already painted it in total, 4 times and I already have to touch up again. The white columns look gorgeous with our mexican tile (dark) and it is the first thing people see when they come in. I only wish I could paint the entire trim white. It opens up the windows, the doorways, and has a more modern look and reflects natural light. Too many reasons not to want to do it. :0)
September 18, 2013 at 1:13PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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R Robulock
This pic shows how much light reflects off the white trim and opens up the space, imagine it was all dark trim. It is your choice, but it is something that I dread everytime I look around my house and want to just rip it all off and get new trim but that is very costly.
September 18, 2013 at 1:15PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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R Robulock
oh, you have to see what type of paint is on right now. If it was "stained" you cannot paint over it unless you use an oil based paint, it was too confusing so I decided not to take the risk. If it is regular paint, then I would recommend BM paint as one coat gets the job done! Good luck!
September 18, 2013 at 1:17PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Dar Eckert
Seems like we always butt heads on whether to paint wood trim. If you have ever tried to strip wood you would know that it is tough and often impossible with polyurethane. So you need to know that you will never go back. Before starting to paint. Some wood is made to be painted. It usually is lesser quality or has bad color or figure to it. The best wood is usually used for stained surfaces. Old wood is often irreplaceable because of the destruction of the old growth forests. But it all gets down to personal preferences.
September 18, 2013 at 1:18PM   
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R Robulock
Jamie, I just read the entire thread. Do not feel guilty about painting over someone else's work, maybe they didn't like the end result and didn't want the extra work to re-paint it.

This is YOUR place now, YOU have to feel comfortable in it, it should make YOU feel good. Make this YOUR home now! good luck
September 18, 2013 at 1:24PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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R Robulock
Dar, do you mean polyurethane or stain? Just wondering if that is what I have.
September 18, 2013 at 1:26PM   
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Alison Inge
Do the extra work to have it sanded and matched. Better to do it once than to wait when you have time and money and do it all over again after its painted. It'd be paint, money and time down the drain. Hold off until you have the extra funds and hire a professional if you like the look of old wood. If not go ahead and paint but the wood would look nice in its natural state and it would be a lot of work to return it back to original condition once it is painted.

The only thing that would deter me would be if there is lead in the paint. Or oil. Have someone come out to give you an estimate it wouldn't hurt.
September 18, 2013 at 1:26PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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R Robulock
I am sure I have stain because that is what the painter told us, but it is not shiny at all. Either way, I hate the dark trim in our home. Here is the column I painted but as you can see the crown molding and baseboards were all left dark brown.
September 18, 2013 at 1:31PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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R Robulock
Good point, Alison!

You can't make any decisions, Jamie, until you know what is already on there now. It will save you time and money to do it right the first time, whatever your decision.
September 18, 2013 at 1:32PM     
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Alison Inge
Thank you
September 18, 2013 at 1:34PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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Susan Vale
I have doors just like those. I was worried about painting them but after taking the plunge all I can say is go for it! I agree about being careful choosing the white - I used an oil based warm white and I love it.
September 18, 2013 at 1:52PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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anitanazar
I would definitely paint the all the trim work white and paint the pickets in the railings white leaving the banister and hand rail wood. It will really brighten up the place and make everything look sharp. Good luck!
September 18, 2013 at 3:18PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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PRO
hurst visual solutions
I'd paint the trim... it dates the house for some reason and looks like an afterthought. Pick a soft off white eggshell and not a pure white as someone has suggested. I'd never touch the stairway, only the trim. Stairway is lovely... It's just too much of a mismatch as far as the woods go. Maybe get the small "try it" trim paint colors and do it a few shades of off white or cream. See what you like best. This is a crazy idea, but they make white tape ( duct tape ) and you might want to go along the baseboards and tape them with white and then stand back. A lot cheaper and less trouble than paint. I agree with paint and think if you don't do it, it will bug you so much, you'll eventually paint them anyway! ;-)
September 18, 2013 at 3:55PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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Gloria H.
Boy. You are in a difficult situation. I am building a house and have the same problem. Everyone is going to white (all the magazines, etc.). Everyone has an opinion on this. Wood nicely done and a nice grade is warm and beautiful. Very little maintenance needed. White is clean and bright and is a little more maintenance. White does have to be touched up and you can mark it easily with for instance a vacuum. I was wondering if you could match the trim color with the floor? Good luck. Either way it will look great.
September 18, 2013 at 4:07PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Marilyn Fenn Art
We had a carpenter tell us the same thing (don't paint the wood!). Ours was only pine, though, but I much prefer white or creamy painted trim, so paint I did. I used a glossy latex paint from Behr in a color called Camembert, and sanded the surfaces smooth with a little mouse sander before painting. Four windows and 100 linear feet of baseboard and casing in addition to the window casing...I love how it came out. Yours would look even more stunning with the dark floors.

And I agree, you need to know whether it has been finished in any way or not before painting. If you can find a tiny inconspicuous bit that you can sand, any difference in finish should be apparent. Good luck!
September 18, 2013 at 4:17PM     
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Genevieve
@ R Robulock you have a nice room with a melange of trims just like we do over here in our house ,my idea would be to paint it all the same ,the other thing that I have noticed is the 2 wall hangings that you have ,I think that these two are to be hung just like a pair of earrings each on the outward.
September 18, 2013 at 4:25PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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rjcDESIGN
I recommend painting all the door/window trim as well as the trim under the columns and on the side of the stairs a lighter color (somewhere between white and light gray--the dulce de leche looks nice) and I recommend changing the wall colors too. Your current mushroom taupe under the columns and on side of stairs is too dark and needs to contrast with the wood more.
Your space has a ton of potential and will look great with some new colors!
September 18, 2013 at 4:45PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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basiajj
DEFINITELY white you will achieve very elegant look. Floor looks for me good. Good luck with your project.
September 18, 2013 at 5:00PM      Thanked by Jamie N
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Beth Chesak
Here's how I convinced my wood-loving husband to paint our massively trimmed house. I pulled up real estate in all of the most expensive neighborhoods in the US with homes costing over $1,000,000 (our home cost much less). These homes tend to have layers of ceiling and floor moldings and are generally well decorated. In almost every case, the trim moldings were painted a shade of white and the wood floors were stained a brownish/black oak color. Moldings and wood pop and everything else is icing on the cake! The homes that did not paint the trim were described as "charming" - code for "fixer upper. Paint!!!
September 18, 2013 at 5:02PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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R Robulock
@Marilyn Fenn Art, the window looks beautiful!!!!

@Genevieve, thank you for the comment, I never noticed it. I changed them a couple of minutes ago!
September 18, 2013 at 5:13PM     
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Debbie
While painting every inch of trim, don't forget to paint the crown molding the same, and if you have rooms where there is no crown moldings--get it! and paint the same color of a warm white (not bright)(it's amazingly reasonable) It will make such a difference and make the color of the room *pop*, especially if the walls and ceiling are the same color.
We have mahogany trim/doors/crown/fireplace mantle...hate it! We just sold our house, (their problem now!), and every piece of trim in our retirement home at the beach is going to be a warm white! NO more orangy wood color!
September 18, 2013 at 5:22PM        Thanked by Jamie N
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Beth Chesak
Gladden gripper is a great oil based primer.
September 18, 2013 at 5:56PM   
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Jamie N
Wow you guys are awesome!! Thank you so much for all the suggestions and pictures. It has really helped.
September 18, 2013 at 6:01PM     
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Jamie N
@Nina Thompson, I am not sure what the stain is...it isn't anything heavy. There is a slight shine, but it's not glossy.
September 18, 2013 at 6:06PM   
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Marilyn Fenn Art
@R Robulock, Thank you so much! :)
September 18, 2013 at 6:19PM   
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