What To Do When Interior Shingles Are Painted

Interior shingles were meant to be...but not painted.
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Interior shingles weren't meant to be painted.

Interior shingles weren't meant to be painted.

On the advice of their real-estate agent, the previous owners of our ca. 1895 Shingle Style home painted over burlap walls and built-in cabinets that should have been left alone, in a misguided effort to make the Arts & Crafts rooms “light and bright.” They even painted the unusual interior shingles in the sunroom! —Anna Stewart

The Fix

Unfortunately, paint is almost impossible to remove entirely from shingles—more difficult even than stripping wood flooring and brick. Shingles naturally have so many crevices and they’re rather porous. Blasting (a mess indoors) would probably ruin them. One option is to replace them with new shingles, which may be left natural (over time they’ll darken) or stained a darker color matched to the vintage shingles you still have in other rooms.

A less drastic option is to paint over the white. You can pick a grey-brown color that approximates your old shingles, or choose a color from the Arts & Crafts palette to complement furnishings.

By the way, your interior shingles aren’t as unusual as you think. The architect William Ralph Emerson used interior shingles at Redwood in Bar Harbor, Maine, built in 1879 and considered one of the first Shingle Style “cottages.” Peabody & Stearns used interior shingling at Kragsyde on Boston’s North Shore. These shingles were meant to be left unpainted, bringing the outdoors in. Although the formal rooms in many Shingle Style houses were finished classically, family areas and upper floors were more rustic, with beadboard panels and occasionally shingled walls.

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What have you, your spouse, pet, contractor, previous owner (you get the picture) screwed up? Email us at lviator@aimmedia.com.

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