Bring the stain

Today was a fantastic but long day.  I finished installing the base trim, finished puttying all the nail holes, sanded all the yet-to-be-installed trim (crown, base shoe, base cap, window stop), sanded the putty, taped the walls and floor and put on a coat of stain.

Stained door trim
Stained door trim
Stained closet door and back window
Stained closet door and back window

4 thoughts on “Bring the stain

  1. Hi there,
    I have an old two-flat in Chicago and am currently replacing the painted trim with the original style fir moulding. Your posts have been very encouraging, as we’ve been living with rough plaster-edged doors and windows for over a year.

    We recently ordered our trim stock and I was wondering about whether to stain/finish the trim before or after installing it. What would you recommend? We’re replacing everything (baseboards, door and window casings, etc) How did applying the stain on the installed trim go for you?

    Thanks and great work!


  2. Matt,

    I think most people do their staining in advance, install the trim and then putty the holes (or not.) I don’t like to see the holes, so when possible, I install the trim unfinished. I will sand it in advance and then do some spot-sanding after my wood putty dries. The “little” trim (e.g. quarter round, window stop or base cap) will get pre-finished and brad nailed into place.

    The upside is that the nail holes are very difficult to spot. The downside, of course, is that finishing in-place is much more time-consuming that doing it ahead of time. It’s difficult to mask well enough to keep stain off the walls, so I’ll end up having to do some touch-up painting.

    My approach has evolved over time, so I’m pretty settled on it now. I have some older examples where I nailed up prefinished base, and I’m not as happy with it.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that I always prefinish crown. The nail holes are harder to see, and who wants to stain on a ladder??

    Good luck!


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