Antique Home Restoration: Matching Original Wood Stains

Over the past 110 years the picture rails in our living room have been removed and reinstalled many times as new layers of wallpaper were added.  The coped ends were pretty damaged, and while I did save all the original picture rails I decided that it’d be much easier to just replace them.  Finding a similar moulding profile in quarter sawn Fir wasn’t difficult, but I was nervous about trying to match the original dark stain.

I ended up purchasing two colours that I felt were closest to the original stain, and by mixing them in different ratios I was able to get something that looked pretty similar.  In the photo above I have some pieces of the original trim that were cut out to make room for electrical fixtures.  Below those I have a new piece of Fir trim with some test patches of the stain in various ratios.  Even though the grain is different on the original pieces vs the new piece (face grain vs edge grain), you can tell that the match is better on the samples to the right.

New picture rails before stain:


New picture rails after stain:


New picture rails after clearcoat:


I then put one of the picture rails up against the original trim to see how I did:


The sheen is a definitely higher than the original, but I plan on shining up the original trim a bit so I’m pretty happy with the match!




One Comment

  • Wendy Pope says:

    Gorgeous grain on the mouldings, can’t believe you went through mixing the 2 stains in different ratios! But then again, I can … we’re talking about Matt Pope here! Once again your efforts have yielded wonderful results, the slightly lighter shade lets the beautiful grain show though. I don’t know anyone else who’s put so much love into a home, what a monumental project! Can’t wait to see it in person :)

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