One of the hardest parts of maintaining an older home is keeping up with parts of the home that are going to naturally age. All of the wood trim in my home is original to the house, but over the course of 65+ years, some of it is starting to show its age.
I’ve mostly had issues in areas where moisture collects in the house, such as around exterior windows. Since my goal is to maintain the original look of the house, I try to be as minimally invasive when fixing up parts of the house. When I installed my vintage hardwood floors, I touched up the floor moldings around the house by using a semi-opaque stain that was very close in color to the retro blonded wood, then I varnished them all for a new finish. After seeing how well this technique worked, I started using it on other areas of my house that needed a similar touch up.
After remodeling my home office, I noticed that the trim around the windows was peeling and had discoloration from moisture. The trim also had quite a few holes from previous window treatments. Its not something that is super noticeable, but to me it takes away from the quality of the home when things are in disrepair so I wanted to fix them.
I started by cleaning the black parts of the wood with a bleach solution to kill any mold or mildew that was causing the discoloration. I then lightly sanded the areas. The goal is to remove any flaking finish and roughen up the surface but not to sand down to bare wood. I then wiped the area down with a slightly damp rag to remove any residue.
The stain I use for my home is an Old Masters wiping stain in the color Fruitwood. Your local paint store should be able to help you find a color match in a semi-opaque stain for this purpose. The semi-opaque stain provides coverage but doesn’t completely “paint” the wood. It is a bit of an art-form to blend in the stain. I usually start with a light coat and lightly blend it into the area that needs refinishing with a foam brush. It takes a while to dry, so I usually wait until the next day to add another layer or any touch ups.
While working on the stain, I also added in a stainable wood putty to the holes in the woodwork and blended stain into those spots. Of course I did this project in the middle of winter, so it smelled really bad! I advise doing it during a season that you can open the windows.
After the stain was completely dry, I lightly scuffed the area with a very fine sand paper. You don’t have to sand a lot and just need enough to scuff the surface a little so that a coat of varnish will stick. I prefer to do the entire area so that there is a consistent and new finish on all of the wood trim. The varnish I use for my window sills and bathroom is actually an indoor/outdoor varnish that is perfect for more humid areas.
After letting it all dry, I was able to re-hang the curtains and you could hardly tell that parts had been re-stained! It is a little bit of work, but worth it to restore the moldings to their original condition.