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Truest 07-24-2013 09:32 AM

Painting 150 year old wood trim -what primer?
Hi, I live in an old victorian with beautiful natural stained wood trim in the majority of the rooms.

I know a lot of people are against painting old stained trim, but we are only going to do it in one of the rooms where out dogs scratched and chewed the trim when they were puppies. The rest of the rooms we are keeping the wood.

Anyway, the trim is all orangy wood, might be fir or heart of pine, and I think right now it has clear poly acrylic on it. I have no idea what was on it before. I don't see any alligatory shellac and I did that rubbing alcohol test and it came up negative.

Anyway, what primer should we use? As I said, it's stained with I think poly over it (there are cans of clear poly in the basement from the last owners). Also, there are a few bare areas where my husband got over zealous with the sander.

I did try painting in one of the rooms before and used Smart Prime, but it was really thin and didn't go on well and I had to do two coats. Even tho I had sanded, it like kinda beaded up a little.

The people who lived here before used California prime choice 100% arcylic primer on some trim in the bathroom, but there are some knots bleeding thru now.

There are SO many kinds of primer out there, does anyone have a specific product that I should use?

If at all possible, I'd love some thing that doesn't smell too bad.


Brushjockey 07-24-2013 10:26 AM

Prep is everything going over a clear coat. Lightly but thoroughly sand first ( 120 grit is about right) to give the primer a better chance to grip-
Primers that you want are bonding primers. Many good choices, 2 I like are Zinnser 123, Insul-x Stix, and I do also like Smart prime.
Primers are not meant to give great coverage- so no need for 2 coats. Thats what the finish paint does.

And use a quality paint meant for trim-

Jmayspaint 07-24-2013 11:31 AM

If you can handle using an oil primer, the Zinsser odorless isn't too bad smell wise.
Its not quite as good as the regular Zinsser oil, but it might have a better chance of blocking knot/tannin bleed over time, than an acrylic.

Ben Moore sells a odorless oil also.

123 is good stuff too (WB), and the 123+ is even better for stain blocking.. If you can get it. Seems to have diapered from store shelves lately..

Brushjockey 07-24-2013 12:01 PM

BTW Jmay- 123Plus is the same thing as Smart Prime, just labeled for the box stores.

user1007 07-25-2013 01:00 AM

OP, what do you mean you do not like the way the primer you are trying is beading up? This makes me very nervous and suggests you are getting some chemical reaction between what you are putting on and the surface you have. This cannot end well. I promise.

This post confused me. Are we helping you paint over woodwork in one room where puppies chewed up antique trim or are we fixing new painted wood with knots bleeding through too? And the woodwork where a husband over zealous with a sander spent some time? All this happened in one room?

Typical Victorians often had expensive hardwood for public rooms downstairs and cheaper trim, and floors, made out of pine and fir upstairs. I do not cry too much when I see upstairs trim nicely primed and painted. I cringe seeing hardwood painted over though and was usually asked how best to get paint off of it.

Are you absolutely, positively sure you want to paint old Victorian hardwood, or even stained and clear finished upstairs soft wood though? If the dogs are done with their puppy chewing phase? Just replace what they destroyed. Or fix it. Don't paint the wood. You will be sorry if you start messing around painting nice exposed wood in a Victorian. I promise you, you will devalue the house near instantly too if you do. But if you must...

As mentioned Zinsser 123 know comes as a plus formula with stain blocker in a waterbased formula. I have no experience with it. Cover stain is the alkyd product from Zinsser and it has stain blocking properties. BIN is the alcohol or shellac based primer we talk a lot about. They stink in ascending order I guess and starting with Cover Stain you will need solvents for your tools.

Op if you have knots bleeding through layers of clear coat and then finish on it? Some piece of pine (or other soft conifer wood) did not get sealed before it was primed and then painted. $.30 worth of shellac would have helped. You cannot fix the situation from the top down now as the staining will seep out into whatever on top of it. You will have to strip the finish on that wood or remove and replace it.

chrisn 07-25-2013 01:23 AM

he's back:wink:

user1007 07-25-2013 01:44 AM


Originally Posted by chrisn (Post 1220628)
he's back:wink:

Don't get your hopes too far up lad! :huh:

Brushjockey 07-25-2013 07:37 AM

Hey SDS!! SUP?

And whats with this..??

You cannot fix the situation from the top down now as the staining will seep out into whatever on top of it. You will have to strip the finish on that wood or remove and replace it.

Put a spot of BIN on the bleed and recoat- problem solved.

ToolSeeker 07-25-2013 08:41 AM

WhY not look into a real repair? It really sounds like paint is not going to cover up the damage only make it more visible by making it different from every other room. A lot of the appeal of the old victorians is the beautiful woodwork. I think a half arse approach such as stain and poly would be better than paint.

firehawkmph 07-25-2013 02:26 PM

Can you post some pictures of the damaged woodwork?
Mike Hawkins:)

user1007 07-26-2013 10:59 AM


Originally Posted by Brushjockey (Post 1220694)
Hey SDS!! SUP?

And whats with this..??

Put a spot of BIN on the bleed and recoat- problem solved.

BJ, I have never had luck with this approach once unsealed resins have started seeping into the primer and finish. I know it should work but in most cases for me the stain just spreads under the sealer to the end of where I spotted the stain. This has been especially true when rather new, non-kiln dried pine or fir got milled and then installed too soon for trim. I found I could not fix the staining from the top down unless I took BIN or shellac to the whole piece of trim.

It was usually cheaper labor wise to just pull the trim, replace it, seal it, prime it and paint it as should have happened in the first place.

Brushjockey 07-26-2013 12:17 PM

Interesting. I don't think it's ever failed me.

chrisn 07-26-2013 05:00 PM


Originally Posted by Brushjockey (Post 1221295)
Interesting. I don't think it's ever failed me.

me either

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