Leopard Spots on Trim

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Forum topic by bsmith6356 posted 12-14-2017 08:45 PM 824 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1275 days

12-14-2017 08:45 PM

Hi there- We are in the process of finishing a 500 sq foot addition (Sunroom, Dining Room, Bathroom and Laundry Room) on our home, and have a stain-related issue on our baseboard molding and trim. It is in the process of being resolved, but I’d really like advice to know if I’m being unfair/unrealistic. Under Trim on our Builder Contract, it says “Stain new millwork to match existing.”

I’ve put together some photos to illustrate the problem. In the end I was told (unrelated to how we resolved) “you should have asked for the wood to be stained or conditioned” and “we did what we were supposed to do, matched the color.”

Please give me feedback, and thank you for your advice and experience!

“Select Pine” trim in our existing (not part of addition) home that I sanded and stained 3 years ago.

I mentioned to builder that our trim was a bit on the red side, and gave them this oak sample to match. I realize that sample is different kind of wood, was just using this as a target.

This is what we came home to, about 75% of the entire 500 sq ft addition looked like this, the rest was acceptable but not great. We figured that they would put on a second coat which might even out the spots/blotchiness.

Next morning painter was putting a clear coat finish on, I realized “this was it” and told him to stop…that this was “matching” or acceptable. Paint is one thing, you can always repaint, but trim? I took some pics and sent them to the builder. Painter said he’d been painting since 1993 and didn’t understand why we had an issue with it. We told the builder that we were ok with the color, but that it looked like a leopard. He sent the guy home until we could discuss further.

A few days later the builder and painter stopped by when we weren’t home, and determined that my existing trim (shown at top) had a factory finish! Not. And, said that he had no control over wood grain.

That day I took a scrap of the same wood and same stain they used, but used a Pre-Conditioner. I also did it on a horizontal surface. I’d mentioned to builder that I’d never seen anyone apply it vertically, but since have learned some people do it that way.

I took a second scrap and sanded before staining, which is how I’d done the existing trim (behind sample in both photos). Either one of these is what we had in mind when we said, and read on the contract to “match existing.”

We were also told “if you wanted it sanded or pre-conditioned we should have mentioned up front, but that it would have cost more.” Personally, I didn’t realize I needed to mention that, a pro would know what did or didn’t need to be done. Or, at least throw up a flag when he saw the spots. I asked if other customers would accept/have accepted it and was told “yes.”

So, were our expectations too high?

Thank you!

8 replies so far

View JADobson's profile


1449 posts in 3169 days

#1 posted 12-14-2017 08:51 PM

I think if the contract states that it needs to match the existing trim your expectations aren’t too high. This guy is trying to take you for a ride. I sure wouldn’t be proud of that work. It is his responsibility to know how the processes required to match – not yours.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4635 days

#2 posted 12-14-2017 09:31 PM

Welcome to LJs
Unforchanatly I’ve run into this kind of scenario before over the years, it usually ends up with the customer saying something like you’re the expert why didn’t you tell me about it. If the customer has taken an action after you deliver the product it should be on him… But you will forever have someone giving negative comments about your work for years to come, so if you offer something for free to fix the bloched items you may just have a big fan for years to come.
The easiest fix “paint” perhaps a brown to mimic a stained wood color.


View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 3941 days

#3 posted 12-14-2017 09:49 PM

wow, that’s a terrible job he did. I hope you haven’t paid him for everything yet. Doing a crap job and claiming that it matches is a complete cop-out on his part. You hired him to give you finished trim, not the horrible mess he gave you. It’s his job to know that it would blotch and/or what he needs to do to have it look acceptable, not yours.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Knockonit's profile


800 posts in 1260 days

#4 posted 12-14-2017 09:54 PM

Yep, if it says match existing as close as possible, then he didn’t get it done.
he took a short cut, in lieu of doing it right. Original base is a sprayed on stain and finish, where the new is a pine base with a stain, no prep ect.

read the paper work, if match existing, he needs to do so.
good luck, i hate contractors who want to blame clients for their lack of concern.

-- Living the dream

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4635 days

#5 posted 12-14-2017 10:00 PM

Sorry, I misread your post , I didn’t understand it was your house I thought you had contracted this work for a contractor and his helper messed up everything.


View remdds's profile


40 posts in 3683 days

#6 posted 12-14-2017 10:02 PM

Matching means matching. That is unacceptable. If he is a professional he should already know about stain controller. If it costs more he should eat the difference. He could have said that the estimate is in fact an estimate and will cost a bit more due to the wood grain. He should never expect you to pay for something you don’t want.

Not your fault at all. The contractor should live and learn on this one. Does he want to put his name on something that looks like crap? What a fool to get right to the end and then spoil the job.

View Mike_in_STL's profile


1389 posts in 1592 days

#7 posted 12-14-2017 11:01 PM

No, your expectations were not too high. Anyone who works with pine should know it has to be conditioned before applying a stain, otherwise you get blotchy results. Case in point, your pictures. Good luck.

-- Sawdust makes me whole --Mike in STL

View JADobson's profile


1449 posts in 3169 days

#8 posted 12-17-2017 02:38 PM

Let us know how things turn out.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

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