The totally enjoyable and awesome 2013 door and window trim replacement bonanza

We’re in the midst of a long process with the city dealing with old paint in our house that I’d rather just not go into right now.

Partially because I’m still so ticked off about it that I’ll have to use characters like @#$&% too much or perhaps TYPE IN ALL CAPS, and because I just want to end this whole process and have them out of our hair before I write what will be a long detailed post about everything — mostly in the hopes of helping out other DC folks dealing with the same thing, rather than just venting.

But that long story aside, we are replacing a bunch of the old trim (as well as the interior doors) in our house. And I do mean a bunch.

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After trimming out the new windows in the sleeping porch in August 2012 with a different trim pattern that was comparable on the sides to the house’s original trim and a pretty good match on the cap on top of the windows (replacement on sleeping porch vs original trim on old window above), I was prepared to do the same for the two doors and two windows I needed to re-trim last weekend: the door to the basement, the pantry window, the bathroom window and the back door in the sleeping porch that goes down into the backyard.

Of all of those, the door to the yard was the one where I didn’t mind using radically different trim, because I could at least match it to the new trim I put on the sleeping porch windows just a few feet away last summer.

I wasn’t crazy about having trim that looked so markedly different on the other doors/windows around the house, but I had made my peace with it and come to the conclusion that stripping the old trim wasn’t an option in any fashion at this point and that getting a local millwork shop to custom run a bunch of matching trim for us wasn’t going to be an option money-wise either.

But I had a pleasant surprise last weekend.

I was at Galliher and Huguely last week, our local lumber yard just outside of Petworth, while taking Friday off and I was surprised to see a new casing option that was almost a spot-on match for the trim around the sides of every single door and window in the house. I couldn’t believe it! Did I miss it before? There were slight differences with the bevels and contours, but at a glance, they look almost identical.

I bought the different unmatching trim for the back door, and then got a bunch of this YP80 matching trim from a different mill than the other two that G&H get all of their millwork from. What a great surprise!

Capitol Hill trim vs YP80
On top is  the casing I used as the make-do replacement on both sets of sleeping porch windows, and the new casing that’s almost a dead match to the 1921 trim in our house below.

First up was the unbelievably terrible trim around the pantry window, along with the baseboards, ogee cap and also the old trim around the pantry door that our carpenter saved (at our request) from the old pantry entrance and recycled here. It was some of the worst in the house, covered in oodles of layers of paint. Awful.

Pre-closing: kitchen west
That’s the old pantry entrance — our carpenter saved the casing on the sides but we really shouldn’t have. It was terrible.

The first step was to clear everything out of the pantry. Everything. Which meant that our kitchen was a wreck with totes and boxes of food and everything else all over the place for 4 solid days until I was finished.

Check out the condition window casing and the rest of the trim in the pantry. Yikes.

By @whiteknuckled

Why oh why didn’t I replace this trim, or at least the baseboards, when I was building these new pantry shelves back last summer? I can’t believe I looked at this and seemed to have thought, “yeah, that stuff looks ok. Not peeling at all. Don’t worry about it.”

So I took the hammer and crowbar and pulled all the old trim off, which didn’t take too long, but made quite a mess. I sealed myself up in the pantry completely and opened the window as I worked.

by @whiteknuckled

Tearing the old trim off meant filling in the gaps around the edges with joint compound since the new trim appears to be a tiny bit narrower than the old stuff, especially when you consider the half-inch of paint on the old stuff. Ick.

By @whiteknuckled

After doing all the mud, then it was just a matter of casing the window and putting in the new baseboards and caps. I opted not to do the fancy cap with the stop and crown cap on the top for the window — it wasn’t there before and it’s just a window inside a closet anyway.

All the casing is so much better than before. Crisp and sharp!

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Before and after

After wiping down all the walls and cleaning the floors really good, I moved everything back into the pantry after we just couldn’t take the mess anymore.

Up next was the sleeping porch door out to the backyard. Oh boy. This thing has been without trim since the day we moved in. We rebuilt that entire back wall of the house when we went to put the new windows in and discovered the whole porch wall was just thin wainscoting with metal siding on the outside. So we built a new proper insulated exterior wall with insulation and everything when we put in the door and windows here.

The only photo I can find is this one. This is basically how the porch looked for the first two years we lived here until I cased these windows last summer, but the door went trim-less for almost three years until last weekend.

downstairs porch window uncased

It’s amazing how we can get used to the most terrible looking things to the point that we don’t notice them anymore. (Case in point: our bathroom, but that’s another story.) This was just one of those same things…naked porch door, hadn’t even been painted on the inside in the 2.5 years since it went in. For this one, I used the Capitol Hill trim profile that I used on the sleeping porch (the pattern on top in the picture of the two trim profiles way up above.)

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This one was pretty simple, save for the left side of the door casing that had to be ripped down from the full width and slots scrolled in for the hinges. I used a stock plinth (the piece at the bottom against the floor) from Home Depot that I bought a year ago and had mean, uh, meaning to take back for 365 days or so because it didn’t match our plinths. The stuff we have is carried by no one, and though I did manage to copy one to replace a broken one in the nursery, it was pretty challenging without a bigger chopsaw that tilts both ways or slides. I threw in the towel on that and just used this stock stuff, that admittedly goes pretty well with that symmetrical Capitol Hill trim pattern.

We can’t even describe how big of a difference this made on the porch. Other than some crown moulding in there that’s still needed, the room finally feels done. After almost three years. Sigh.

Up next was the unbelievably terrible casing around the door to the basement. It was so bad I apparently couldn’t even bring myself to take a proper “before” picture of it, so I had to dig back into the archives from the pictures during the first time we walked through this house when it was for sale.

Pre-closing: kitchen southeast

It might be kind of hard to make out in this picture, but there had been a chain attached to the casing and a few places where the casing had cutouts for other locks and lots of holes. It was nasty. And it had been painted by the sloppiest painter in the world about 500 times. Like everything else in the house.

After pulling all the trim off, I used mud to float out the areas that dropped off to the plaster at the edge of the casing and also secure some of the crumbling plaster (using a bit of flexible joint tape.) This will create a nice smooth wall edge going under the casing.

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Once again, there’s a detail of how I aped the style of the top three pieces of our existing moulding — none of which are carried stock by anyone except that flat 1×5 in the middle of course. The bottom pieces is actually two pieces of door stop glued on top of each other slightly offset, and the top cap is actually rake that’s totally not proper crown whatsoever. I’m actually using it upside down from how it’s supposed to go.

After nailing all the pieces in and sanding down the mud, all that was left was to paint.

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Finished! Oh and on those new but naked interior oak doors, we’re going to stain them soon. I installed them back a few weeks ago. (Did I never blog about that? Checking….Apparently not. Oops! Stories and pictures forthcoming!)

Last up was the bathroom window. Just as nasty as all the other trim. No real story to tell here, casing comes down, new casing goes up!

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One other thing we did do in the bathroom, though, was to finally paint everything above the tile. This was the classic example of just giving up on a room so terrible that you quit noticing how bad it is or thinking it could be any better without blowing it up and starting from scratch.

The walls were a terrible pale creamy beigey yellow color in a glossy paint that showed ALL the imperfections in the plaster. The original subway tile around the lower half of the room had been covered up with similarly terrible colored yellowish 4×4 tiles. The previous owner just slapped up a goofy 1×3 border above the tile but on top of the old tile-cap border. All in all, it was a terrible room and we’re planning on gutting it and re-doing it completely sometime in 2013, we hope.

Here’s what it looked like before we bought the house.

Pre-closing: bathroom west

Check out the clock! “BATH TIME!”

I had to cover up the places where paint was peeling in here anyway, so we decided to just use leftover paint and do the whole room. We used a leftover gallon of the light grey that we used in the guest room and in the dining room above the chair rail. And then the yellow-ish trim was painted white, along with the new window casing. I stripped the windowsill down with Peel Away (safest way to remove paint — stays in liquid form with zero dust) so I didn’t have to replace that.

This picture doesn’t quite do it justice now, but you can hopefully see the improvement. Of course, we both said to each other, “why oh why didn’t we just paint this room two years ago????” It’s not superb now, but it’s so much better than it was. We had just given up on it and made our peace. (The window curtains aren’t back up yet.)

Bathroom after paint and new trim


That about wraps up the 2013 window and door casing bonanza. As with all other such recent house bonanzas, I am glad to see this one come to a close. And let’s hope when the inspectors come in next Friday, that they don’t say “you should replace all the rest of this trim in your house too.”

Because too much bonanza-ing isn’t good for anyone. And I would like to have a bit of my life back.

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