Century homes with exterior wood detailing that at 100+ years of age, often at great height from ground level, are hard and expensive to maintain properly, and often suffer from neglect, decay, and animal damage. These vintage properties typically have similar millwork detailing on the interior as wainscoting, staircases, paneling, crown moulding, fireplace surrounds etc. Victorian design was very detailed and intricate craftsmanship, and the old growth lumber used in the construction of these masterpiece details is worth saving. We can perform preservation work to existing millwork that can be saved, and a combination of preservation with limited or extensive reproduction work to exacting detail and standard as required. We have an extensive library of cutting knives available to reproduce interior or exterior millwork detailing and if needed we can cut new knives to replicate any moulding profile required.
Exterior elements that have been poorly maintained are often too far gone to save. Decades of exposure to Canadian seasons strips all of the resins and oils natural to the wood used leaving them dry and unable to hold modern paint. The installations are never back primed or sealed in anyway, and the intentional ventilation systems used so well by Victorian builders means any effort to paint the exterior surfaces of old wood that is too dried out will fail within a year or two if modern paint is used. Due to the expense associated with gaining access to high elevations from scaffold we encourage people to allow us to do what is needed so no return trip will be necessary to refinish paint that fails. Old exterior wood detailing becomes like a sponge and responds to ambient climate conditions by absorbing moisture rapidly during the hot, humid conditions of summer, and equally quickly releasing that moisture during the cold, dry conditions of winter. This take up and release of moisture from the rear side of newly refinished exterior elements causes paint to release its bond and begin the peeling and flaking process almost immediately. Very little can be done to correct this once it’s gone too far. At a certain point of neglect and drying exterior wood details are much better off being replaced than retained. New wood can still be bought that has all the properties of old wood, and good kiln dried stock milled to reproduce old, original elements will stand any building in good stead for the next century of people to enjoy. If old, exterior wood detailing is in sufficiently good condition to retain that is always the preference, but saving it for the sake of saving it because it’s old is not necessarily the best decision. Wood elements that are in suitable condition to retain can be properly prepared and finished, and will last decades more into the future as testament to the craftsmanship of our forefathers. We try to steer people toward natural, linseed oil based paints whenever possible as they are a good match to historic method, materials, and the general fabric of historical buildings.