Painting Tips for Historic Homes: Preserving Charm and Character

calander May 11 , 2023 user-icon Nash Painting

Preserving the charm and character of historic Nashville homes isn't just something we do – it's a passion of ours. At Nash Painting, with years of experience under our belt, we’ve seen firsthand how a fresh coat of exterior paint can transform a historic property while preserving its character. The key is to take your time, do the research, and make sure the job’s done right. No cut corners!

Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding the Historical Context

Way before you crack open the first can of paint, or even consider colors, you need to dive into your home's history. Does it have a Victorian flair or a Colonial grace? Each era has its unique color palette that matches the architecture. Researching this is like taking a fascinating journey through time. Plus, it ensures the authenticity of your home and its historical significance.

Preparing for Painting

Alright, so we've done our homework and are ready to get down to business. But before we start, let's go over the crucial paint preparation steps:

  • Assessing the current paintwork. Keep an eye out for peeling, cracking, or bubbling. Since your home was built before 1978, it likely has lead-based paint (unless you or a previous homeowner invested in removal at any point). In that case, it's safest to get a professional to remove it so that you don’t risk airborne exposure.

  • Cleaning the surface. Here's where we roll up our sleeves and get rid of dirt and mildew. A clean surface is crucial for the new paint to stick well.

painting historic homes in Nashville

Choosing the Right Paint Colors

Now comes the fun part – picking the colors! You want to choose colors that enhance your home's architectural style and historical period. But remember, your home doesn't stand alone. Consider the neighborhood's aesthetic and abide by local regulations or guidelines. You wouldn't want your house to stick out like a sore thumb.

Surface Preparation and Repair

With colors decided, it's time to prep those surfaces. Trust us, this isn't a step you want to skip:

  • Scraping and sanding. This involves some elbow grease. We need to scrape off loose paint and sand the rough spots to get a smooth surface.

  • Filling in gaps and cracks. This helps get an even finish, seals vulnerable points, and prevents future decay.

  • Repairing damage. If there's any damaged woodwork or plaster, now's the time to fix it. The paint serves as a protective layer, so we want what's underneath to be in the best shape possible.

Did you know…

We offer an advanced surface prep technique that’s ideal for historic homes like yours: vapor blasting. Rather than deal with messy, expensive, toxic paint strippers, vapor blasting gently yet effectively cleans the surface without causing any damage. It uses water and abrasive particles to remove old paint, dirt, and grime, all while being gentle on delicate surfaces, details, and features. It's all about making that old beauty shine without compromising its historical integrity or risking any damage. Who wouldn't want that, right?

Paint Application Techniques

When it comes to applying the paint, there are several ways to do it – brushing, rolling, or spraying, and each method has its place. Brushing gives you control over intricate details. Rolling is great for large, flat areas, and spraying is super fast and provides an even finish. The key to professional-looking paintwork is applying thin, even coats. Here at Nash Painting, we often use a variety of application techniques depending on the surface we’re painting at the time, calling on our diverse skill sets for the best finish possible.

Preserving Original Details

One of the trickiest parts of painting historic homes is the architectural details. Those ornate moldings, trims, and intricate designs need special care. It requires patience and precision, but trust us, it's worth it! And, don't forget to mask or carefully remove any hardware and fixtures to protect them from paint splatters.

Maintenance and Longevity

The job doesn’t end when the repaint is over. To keep the paint looking fresh and vibrant, regular maintenance is needed. This includes periodic inspections, touch-ups, and regular cleaning, all designed to keep your paint looking its best while lasting as long as possible. We can’t overemphasize the value of ongoing maintenance for any home, but especially for historic properties that are prone to decay, rot, and damage, plus are much more costly to restore.


Q1: How often should I paint my historic home?

  • It depends on a few things, like the quality of your last paint job and how harsh the weather's been. But typically, it's a good idea to repaint every 10-15 years with routine maintenance along the way.

Q2: How can I discover the original color of my historic home?

  • A professional paint analyst can help you uncover the original colors. They'll scrape down through the layers of paint to reveal the history. Also, old photos or architectural drawings can give you some clues.

Q3: Is it okay to use modern paint on my historic home?

  • Absolutely! Modern paint can be used on historic homes. It's actually a good idea because it lasts longer and is better for the environment.

If you have more questions about historic home painting in Nashville, give us a call at Nash Painting. We’d love to put our experience and expertise to work for you.