Saturday, December 15, 2007

Knowing your limitations

Clint Eastwood once said, in a movie, "a man's gotta know his limitations". Or something like that... Well, so do homeowners and I find I have to remind myself of that sometimes. Maybe I watch too much HGTV, or read too many design magazines, or drool over too many other housebloggers photos. All I know is sometimes I catch myself getting caught up in a "fixer upper" daydream that's just not practical to the situation we're in.

Take our trim for example: Oh, wait! You can't take our trim! Someone else beat you to it before we even moved in. Yes, that's right. Someone removed the very beautiful oak trim as well as the two sets of pocket doors in our living and dining rooms and some random pieces from the bedrooms too.

They "patched" the tell-tale holes where the pocket doors would have gone, but the bottoms of the walls were just left bare. Don't get me wrong here - I love this house - and want desperately to "make it right". But, oak replacement trim, (let alone pocket doors!) just aren't in the budget. Perhaps if this house were in a different neighborhood, in a different market, I could justify the expense. But, I have to face reality. It's an adorable house, in rough condition, in a decent working class Pittsburgh neighborhood. Should we have to sell it one day - even ten to fifteen years down the road we'll probably be lucky to break even.

Paint grade pine it is... At least it's not MDF. Right?


Jonathan said...

I'm not sure what your original trim looked like, but if it is 1920's-esque and more square than it is curvy/complicated, you may want to hike out to Mars Lumber (in Mars, of course :) ) to see what they have in stock or can run for you in white oak. They have a ton of pre-cut moulding in oak (amongst other species) available at really reasonable prices, and can do a semi-custom run (you pick the profiles from a set of samples) for also reasonable prices. I'm not sure if they can or would do a profile that requires a custom set of knives for their moulding machines, but they may (I will eventually find this out, as there is some trim that I will probably need to replace at some point in the future).

I've easily found some trim pieces there in the right species that would have cost me a bundle at a Big Box hardware/lumber/everything store for a wood species that I didn't even want. Check them out here. They are also really friendly people and willing to help a customer to get the right stuff. I'm a hobby woodworker and they've been fantastic.


Di said...

I don't know how much paint-grade pine costs, so this might not even be in the ballpark, but... I've had some good luck with salvage yards and Habitat For Humanity's ReStore. We had most of the original pine trim, but a few rooms were missing some. For matching trim at a salvage yard, I paid $1 per foot. The ReStore can be even cheaper, and sometimes they have a whole houseload of matching trim. It's worth checking out!

You could also trim the baseboards with true 1x4s,then just add a decorative piece of cove at the top. It would keep the price down, but still give something of a custom look.

Nate said...

Amen friend! I'm in the same boat. I'd love to 'do it right' too, but an authentic restoration just isn't going to be appreciated in my location, surrounded by rentals and apartment conversions. (it's not going to be appreciated by my bank account either!) Paint grade pine is close enough for me too.

I do have to say 'good for you' for not putting your heart over your head on that one. The decisions from the head always end up a better investment in the end!

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

If you go to a decent local lumber yard, you should be able to get the raw lumber you need to make your trim at a pretty reasonable price. Once you have a table saw and router, it's relatively easy to make the mouldings you need.

Of course, this is just justifying spending money to save money.