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Dark finish on trim in older homes?

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Forum topic by bonobo posted 451 days ago 613 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bonobo

231 posts in 652 days


451 days ago

I’ve found some discussion on replicating old trim finishes but wondered if anyone knew what the exact formulation is for the dark finish found on older softwood.

Our house, like a lot of Toronto homes from the early part of the 1900s, has Douglas Fir trim with a dark coating that appears to be shellac. The thing about it is that it looks like it was applied as a single thick coat and acts more like a glaze rather than a stain. i’ve tried staining new Douglas fir and can get the colour close but can’t avoid the grain reversal that happens with softwoods.

I suppose I could get close with enough coats of garnet shellac but I’m curious as to how the old timers managed to achieve such a dark finish in a fast, efficient way.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain


3 replies so far

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sprucegum

323 posts in 593 days


#1 posted 451 days ago

I have seen a lot of doug fir trim like yours and have tried to match it without a lot of success. I feel most of the dark coloring comes from age. I think they used varnish as a finish. Before the advent of poly finishes you could buy varnish in any hardware store but I have not seen it on the shelf for years. I remember using the stuff, it seems like it took for ever to dry, ran easily, and collected dust like a magnet. I don’t even see spar varnish in the stores anymore the last time I asked for some to coat my snowshoes with they sold me spar poly. Oh and by the way I have worked with some of those old timers 40 years ago they did not do much in a fast efficient way. I expect people say that about me now. I tell them not only am I slow I am also very inefficient.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

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sgv

266 posts in 488 days


#2 posted 451 days ago

THere is a product made by Structures that is 100% acrylic for log cabins,(Nature one)it is for external use but can be used indoors,(Water based) It comes in different stain colors, it goes on like a glaze, We have used it before at work to match old trim work, hope it helps

-- Tite Lines, May the wind be at your back

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bonobo

231 posts in 652 days


#3 posted 450 days ago

Thanks guys. It seems like the technique died out with the guys who came up with it.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

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