The question with most wood products is do we refinish or replace?
Whether it is wood cabinets, floors or furniture you can choose to refinish and retain the beautiful wood look and grain or cover it with paint to create an entirely new piece.
When I started designing, it was almost sacrilege to even suggest painting any wood surface.
Back in the early 90s people were obsessed with their oak; they attached it to everything and the more oak a person had (it seemed) the more affluent they thought they were.
They would brag about their oak feature walls and solid oak cabinets and flooring like it was some sort of rare treasure. How they would cringe knowing that today most of that type of décor is considered an eye sore and is usually removed or covered up!
When the 90’s ended, and the new millennium dawned, clients started realizing that there were other beautiful species of wood in the world that could be used such as walnut, Sapele, hickory, pecan and a wide selection of exotic pieces such as tigerwood and cork which gave high colour, contrast and personality to a room.
I remember finishing a lottery home which had custom cherry cabinets and while greeting people who were viewing the home I met an old timer who accused me of ‘cheaping out’ on the cabinetry because I hadn’t used oak!
There are times that the borderline between hysterical laughter and having flames shoot out of my eyes is a fine line indeed.
Different species of wood have unique characteristics; Sapele and Teak show a very linear, straight grain where Walnut and Ash are known for their gracious curves and strong colour patterns.
I was showing a property yesterday which still had original Teak doors and trim, the home was built in 1962 and I was admiring the subtle glow and grain of the Teak while my client was already verbalizing a want to paint them to make them look updated!
Every person has their own eye for what is beautiful.
When considering the finish and staining of any wood product it is good to educate yourself on grain pattern and porosity of the product.
Maple has a much tighter surface than oak and will not accept colour the same way. All wood requires specialized preparation and will take coating in different ways so be sure to know your wood before you apply any sort of finish or colouring.
The more natural a product is to its finished colour, the more it will be susceptible to fading or changing colour with exposure to light and oxidization.
In the design world we call this ‘patina’ which is just a fancy word for wood changing colour.
If a product is a light colour (oak, maple) and has been stained to a dark hue, it will be protected by UV inhibitors and will change colour less dramatically than an already dark product (walnut, tigerwood) which has a clear coat applied.
Aren’t you thankful that we are in 2018 and we don’t have to succumb to the 90’s religion of never being able to paint an oak-panelled wall?
Kim Wyse is a Central Alberta freelance designer. Find her on facebook at ‘Kim Wyse Associate Royal Lepage Tamarack Trail Realty.’