Preserving Wood Trim

Of all the the aspects of our home, our wood trim is probably the thing that gets the most attention and questions, and it was probably one of the biggest selling factors for us when we first saw the house. However, for all our love of wood trim, it can be tricky to work with. Bringing in other wood tones into the space warrants more thought and attention than it would if we had a home full of painted woodwork. We’ve made the mistake a few times of falling in a love with a wooden piece just to realize that once it’s in the house, it competes with the woodwork and that, really, both end up suffering. Allowing our woodwork to shine while complementing the other items in our home is a skill we’ve worked (and are still working) to hone. Alas, that is a post for another day. Today is all about taking care of that beautiful wood trim should you find yourself fortunate enough to be a steward of such a wonderful home feature.


We were lucky enough that when we moved in, the trim that was exposed was in pretty good shape with a beautiful rich color and visible woodgrain. Although we’re not certain what type of wood it is, a woodworking friend of ours suggested it might be heart pine, which due to deforestation and the amount of time it takes to grow is rarely used today as fresh lumber. We were less fortunate with the upstairs portion of our house, which was painted over and has taken us countless hours to restore. It’s turned out pretty well, but it’s hard to fully match the color and character of the unpainted wood on the first floor. Given the craftsmanship it takes to add these wood details and the environmental price paid to harvest this wood, we’ve recently spent some time to give thought in making sure we continue to keep this woodwork in good shape for years to come.

Protecting Old Windows

There’s no question about it, old windows do require more maintenance and aren’t as energy efficient as newer models. However, the character is hard to beat. Ours are protected with storms that we try to keep down most of the time to help protect the windows from the elements and to increase energy efficiency. One thing we’ve heard is that keeping storms down in the summer can trap in heat and do more damage, but from what I’ve read, it seems that the recommendation is to keep them down most of the year. If anyone else has heard different advice, please share! If you have questions about storms, I found this storm guide and this energy overview very helpful. This year, we’re hoping to take maintenance a step further, touching up exterior paint, recaulking, and performing any other needed maintenance, and we’re planning on following this guide.

Preserving Woodwork

While our trim was in good shape, there were a few areas that were a little faded, dried out, and worse for wear. So, when we saw the beloved House of Brinson recommend the Christophe Pourny furniture repair products, we quickly added those to our Christmas list because we’re now apparently old and think home maintenance products make for great stocking stuffers. We also already had a copy of his fabulous book and figured any furniture product he put his name on had to be good stuff. You can buy the full furniture care kit from Rejuvenation, but given that we don’t have any leather, we bought the color reviver, furniture tonic, and wax paste separately on Amazon.

This last week we finally got around to trying them out, and we were so impressed!! After spending hundreds of hours restoring our trim upstairs and painting woodwork for the dining room, it was exciting to finally have a trim-related job that was instantly gratifying. I honestly don’t think I’d realized how faded some of the windowsills were until we put on the first coat of the color reviver, and I think this is something we’ll add to our yearly maintenance plan. In spending this extra time taking a hard look at our windowsills, I’d expected the areas with the most direct sun to have some obvious dryness, but what was a little surprising was that our windows in the most direct line to our vents were the worst with some visible cracking.

Because we have dark trim, we just used the color reviver, which is essentially the furniture tonic with pigments added for color, followed by the wax paste to lock in moisture. For the mored dried areas, the reviver soaked up really quickly, and we added a few coats. In addition to working so quickly, I also really love that these products only have few ingredients and smell faintly of oranges. If you’re looking to show your woodwork some TLC, I’d highly recommend these products. For those of you with old wood trim out there, do you have any tried and true products or practices to keep it in top shape?

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  • I know exactly what you mean about falling in love with stained wood furniture but it not jiving with the wood trim. The entire 1st floor of our 1916 four-square, plus our master bedroom on the 2nd floor, had stained wood trim. I feel like most of the other case goods we use have to be painted in order not to compete, plus more brown just adds a dated feel. Would be the opposite story with painted trim.

    We moved in almost 3 years ago but have not addressed many of our window issues yet. Glad to know about these products, as much of the wood definitely needs some freshening up.