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Historic Home Restoration: Plan BEFORE You Paint

Historic home restoration can be an incredibly delightful and rewarding experience. If you follow a few simple pointers before you paint, you can ensure a beautiful historic home restoration that you can enjoy for years to come.

Historic Home Restoration: Uncovering the Original Colors

Before you even think about paint for your historic home restoration, you should attempt to discover the color of the paint that was first used on the house. There are several ways to do this, but one of the best techniques is known as the “bull’s eye method.” This involves carefully sanding down paint in a shallow circle to reveal a “bull’s eye” showing all of the paint layers down to the bare wood. As you begin your historic home restoration with the “bull’s eye method,” keep these tips in mind:

  • Use a medium-grade sandpaper to make your “bull’s eye” four to five inches in diameter. Use very fine sandpaper when you get close to the wood to avoid any damage.

  • Make your “bull’s eye” for your historic home restoration in an area that is very well protected from the sun. The best places are under eaves and in locations where it is difficult for a painter to reach.

  • After exposing your “bull’s eye,” rub clear mineral oil over it with a clean cloth to help reproduce the original oil content of the paint, rather than only relying on the dry sanded finish.

Historic Home Restoration: What if you don’t like the original colors?

Many times the original colors, depending on the style of the house, either very restrained, muddy or less colourful than today’s eye might prefer. A good way to go about picking a colour scheme is to find a reproduction (photo) of a fabric, painting or wallpaper from the period of significance. For instance, a Morris wallpaper was used as the basis for the colour scheme for the small bungalow featured in our portfolio.

Historic Home Restoration: Prepping for Paint

Now that you know the original paint color for your historic home restoration, you’re ready to prepare the house for painting. Since preparation is 90% of any historic home restoration, you need a plan to prep for painting. Carefully sand all of the paint and primer down to the bare wood. Make sure you repair any damage caused by weather, termites, construction, or other factors before proceeding. This includes the doors, windows, fascia, corbels, pillars, railings, and rattails. If you prep it right, the painting process of your historic home restoration will go smoothly.

Historic Home Restoration: The Best Use of Color

You found the original color of the house, prepared the wood for painting, and now it’s time to paint. Choosing the right colors for your historic home restoration can be a challenge—to say the least! Remember to follow these simple guidelines as you begin your color selection:

  • Use no less than three colors and probably not more than eight colors for your historic home restoration. Too few colors can make the house appear drab, while too many can be distracting and gaudy. Find the balance, and your historic home restoration will be a success!

  • The three major colors are for 1) the body of the house, 2) the frames of the windows and doors, and 3) the window stiles, rails, and muntins. You can emphasize other architectural features such as a bay window or tower with another color that complements the others.

  • One way to introduce “more” colours is to use lighter and darker shades of the same colour in different places. Frequently American Foursquares are painted with the second storey different from the first. A very dark version of the body of the house can be used under the eaves to provide definition.

Coloured By Time: The Historic Home Restoration Professionals

Contact one of our historic home restoration experts today by calling 323.733.8433 or emailing info@colouredbytime.com. Visit us online at www.colouredbytime.com.


We are now accepting clients for all the 2009-2010 paint seasons.

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