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Tips for Home Renovations on Older Homes

9 October 2013

We started off this week looking at a survey that showed that the majority of Canadians are planning on making home renovations within the next 12 months. But what about when it comes to renovating older homes? Homeowners and contractors alike can sometimes be intimidated by this thought simply because older homes are a bit more fragile than new construction in many cases, and things have far more potential for going wrong. For those individuals, here are some tips that will ensure that reno goes smoothly, and that you fix any needed repairs as well as improve a home’s historic value even more so.

Do Your Research

Yes, you have to do your research any time you’re going to undertake home renovations. But it’s even more important when making them on older homes. First you need to check to see if your home has actually been deemed a historical site. If so, there may be many restrictions and regulations on what you can actually do to it. Also, there may be easements and tax abatement programs that make it easier to pay for the home renos, and you’ll be able to make sure that the renovations you’re making are in keeping with the natural character of the home.

Throw out the Paint, Pick Up the Stain

Here’s a good rule that should be instated in all homes: if wood hasn’t been painted already, don’t be the one to paint it the first time. Staining wood gives it more respect than painting does, and it allows the true beauty of the wood to shine through. If you’re planning on painting just to cover up flaws and repairs needed, it’s best to simply replace it altogether with new wood, and then stain that.

Know Your Product

If you are staining, you should choose a low-VOC penetrating stain. This will allow you to repeat the staining procedures to maintain the wood’s beauty, clarity, and protection without significantly thickening the wood, and making it appear unattractive in the long run. With any product that you’re purchasing, low-VOC or otherwise, you should request a sample and practice first on a test piece of wood. This will ensure that it won’t damage your wood, and that it will turn out to be the colour you want.


No, this doesn’t mean mentally preparing yourself for the stress of home renos (although that’s not a bad idea either.) Instead, make sure there are no defects or repairs needed and if there are, choose an acrylic-based wood filler to do it. Be sure to sand with the grain, vacuum the surface, and then wipe it with a damp cloth. This will ensure that it’s fully ready for any improvement you want to throw at it, and that you’ll keep the natural beauty and integrity of the wood.

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