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What Wood Finish Was Used in Victorian Homes?

Updated April 17, 2017

The Victorian era is generally recognised as corresponding to the reign of Queen Victoria of Great Britain: 1837-1901. The houses built in this era boasted intricate trim carpentry and detailed wood panelling. Craftsmanship was also evident in the crown moulding and intricately carved staircase balusters.

Interior Doors

If interior doors were constructed of hardwoods, they were stained. If constructed of whitewood or pine, they were grained (a process to mimic the grain of more expensive woods, such a mahogany, walnut or oak).

Ceilings

Ceilings were decorated with elaborate plasterwork, as well as wood cornices, and were often painted in lighter colours, such as off-white and ivory. Sometimes, gilding was used to highlight intricate details.

Window Moldings and Picture Rails

Mouldings and picture rails were stained dark, often black.

Floorboards

Victorian floors were made mostly of pine, except in the most expensive homes where they were constructed of oak and mahogany. Floorboards were either painted or stained in a dark colour. The skirting--or baseboard--was grained in the same dark shade.

Painting versus Staining

The more costly the home, the less likely it was that the interior woodwork was painted. Inferior woods, such as pine or whitewood, were often stained and grained, as noted above.

Stain Colors

Although the exact shade of interior woodwork was determined by the individual craftsman, the Victorian fashion was for dark woods. Mahogany was often used for dining rooms, with cherry and walnut being popular throughout the public rooms, like they foyer or living room. Interior doors were often stained walnut, as was the panelling used for wainscoting.

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