Dear PoP – Sources for moulding/millwork?

“Dear PoP,

I am in the process of refinishing the stairs and banister in my 1925 rowhouse. I am replacing the toe rail along the top of the baseboard – it wasn’t special, not worth the effort to strip it. I wonder if anyone can recommend a source for moulding and millwork. It would be nice to have an alternative to Home Depot and Lowes.

I’ve seen a company called Galliher & Huguely up at the end of Kansas Ave NW, but they never seem to be open.”

Anyone have some suggestions? Can’t wait to see the “after” pictures!!!

44 Comment

  • Smoot. They’ll pretty much make anything you want. And they have a lot in stock. Way better than HD & Lowes.

    You could also go with a carpenter. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with buckets of skill and a router.

    • Indeed. I found the trim I needed for my 1920’s row house at Smoot Lumber in Alexandria. TWPerry may also be worth a look too, but I don’t think they have as extensive a selection.

      And of course, don’t even bother with HD or Lowes.

    • +1 … Smoot is amazing.

    • +1 I just had a crap load of new trim delivered to my house, ready for staining. It’s not cheap, but they have a lot of knives that match the older stuff in your house.

      If you only need a few things, you can try the Brass Knob Warehouse over on 1st and P NW ( I think that’s where it is). That’s where I’m going to get my spindles.

  • I don’t have an answer, but rather a question for the OP: what method are you using to strip your paint and how long has it taken you? I want to redo the same area on our 1920’s house (looks very similar in construction), taking it down to the bare wood an restaining. I know there are 3-4 layers and that at least 2 of them are lead.

    • i’ve been using Citristrip to successfully get paint off tile, and i assume it will work fine when i want to do the wood. a major bonus is that it’s not caustic like the traditional stuff.

    • anon. gardener

      Hola, I’m the OP. We have tried every method of paint removal known to man, and the best one is the heat gun. We have two layers of latex paint on the woodwork, and one or two very thin layers of paint (presumably lead-based) under that. the key with the heat gun is to use low heat just to soften the paint, and a very sharp scraper. the kind that has a black handle and a 4 sided blade on the end (two are for rough scraping, 2 for fine). it requires some muscle, but it’s fast. Heat the paint too much and you can vaporize the lead.

      I will almost be sorry when this project is finished. There’s a Zen-like quality to scraping paint. Then again, maybe i’ve just been inhaling lead fumes.

    • I’m not the OP, but I recently stripped cracking and chipping paint from windowsills. At least one of the layers was lead and there were 2-4 layers of paint total. I actually sent a Dear PoP email a while back asking about lead paint removal.

      I used Peel Away 1 and Peel Away 7. PA1 has almost no odor – it’s essentially concentrated lye – so it’s great to use if you can’t/don’t want to keep windows open. It has the consistency of cake frosting and you apply it 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, cover with the provided paper, and leave it for 12-48 hours. I left it on for 24 hours and most of the paint came off very easily. The paint doesn’t completely stick to the paper; you have to use a scraper to lift it up, but it doesn’t turn the paint into a gooey, sticky mess unlike other removers I’ve tried and you’re not creating any dust. Any residue can be wiped away with a sponge and bucket of water. You’re supposed to neutralize afterward with an acetic acid solution – basically, concentrated vinegar. The one downside to PA1 is that it can darken the woodgrain, so it may not be the best option if you intend to just clearcoat the wood. If you’re staining the wood or repainting, it’s the best option. The company recommends PA1 for use with lead paint because a lot of the paint does become encapsulated in the paint remover. And if you do have to do some scraping, it’ll be wet and not create any dust.

      Several of my windowsills had a layer of what turned out to be wood filler. You’ll know you hit that if you have a layer that basically feels like a chalkboard when scraped. These took a lot more work. 24-48 hours with PA1 and 24-48 hours with PA7, several treatments of each. Unlike PA1, PA7 stinks. You’ll want good ventilation. It’s also thinner, like honey, but the application is the same – a layer covered with paper allowed to stand for 4-48 hours. Removal is similar. You’ll need to scrape some, but again, you’re not creating dust so the lead paint isn’t a concern. And unlike PA1, it doesn’t change the wood color so it’s a better option if you’re planning to leave the wood in its natural color.

      With either, just be exceedingly careful about the paint you’ve removed and don’t track it – on your shoes, clothes, etc. – outside of the work area.

      They sell Peel Away 1, and I think also PA7, at the Duron Paints on 14th and Clifton. Frager’s also carries PA1, didn’t ask about PA7.

    • Thanks for the replies! I’ve used Citristrip on a small section to test things out already, and it was great on the flat surfaces but completely a pain on anything with a corner or crease (just got gummed up and hard to remove, took hours to do a small section). Does PA1 work well in non-flat applications, like rounded bannisters with odd angles? Does the paper need to make contact on the entire surface? That could be tough.

      I was thinking of going the heat gun route, but lead is a concern with little ones in the house. Has anybody used one of those infrared devices? They’re pricey, but from what I’ve read work very well.

      • anon. gardener

        OP again. You can also get scrapers for round surfaces and complicated moulding. Fragers sells them, as does Sherwin Williams. I’d be cautious too if i had kids in the house. The Peel-Away sounds like the way to go.

      • I did the moulding underneath the sills and it’s pretty detailed – similar to this: The paper needs to be in contact with the paint remover, not the underlying surface. I just used a thick enough layer so that the outer surface was fairly even and stuck the paper to that. The paper mainly keeps the PA1 from drying out so it can do its work; if you search somewhere like, some people have used saran wrap instead. I also tore it into narrow strips where needed; you just need to cover the PA1 somehow.

        We also have a toddler in the house and ruled out a heat gun for that reason. I did do all the paint stripping during a week that he and my husband were on vacation, but largely because I knew we couldn’t trust him to not investigate.

        And I should’ve been more clear above – I didn’t do very much scraping that required actual muscle. The vast majority was just running the scraper along the surface without much effort. One thing you do need to be careful about is not gouging the wood. After 24 hours of exposure, it’ll be soft and easily nicked.

        We used chemical paint removers before on a mantel and they were horrible on anything even slightly detailed – like you said, it all turned to gummy gunk. This was, quite honestly, a breeze in comparison. Aside from that goddamn wood filler, that is.

        • I stripped some of the baseboards and casings in my place. Such a pain. I even hit some paint that neither stripper nor heat gun would touch.

          In the end, I found it cheaper to just buy new stuff. Even at $5/lf, it was worth saving all the time I was sinking into the stripping & sanding – time which I could put into other projects.

          A neighbor of mine pulled all his casings etc off the walls and had them dipped. This really seems the way to go if you can take them all off. There is a place around 4th & Florida NE that dips.

        • I’ve used about 50 gals. of Peel-Away 1 to remove paint from the trim in my house. It’s like democracy. It’s the worst form of paint removal except for all the others.

          Heat gun or infrared stripper success depends upon what’s underneath. If you’re working with pine or fir, resin will liquefy and bubble up to aid in removal. If you are working with a hardwood, you’ll be okay as long as there is a shellac or varnish under the paint. This bubbles up, too. If the hardwood is primed and painted, the heat gun process will be like trying to scrape chewing gum off of a carpet.

  • There are specialty millers who make stuff to match these old row houses. We had some of our mill work replaced b/c it was so damaged, the match is great. Sorry I do not know where it came from, but you might want to start looking for specialty mill work in the VA area. Our stairs in our 1922 row house are identical to yours. Good luck.

  • saf

    Smooth is good. Galliher and Huguley is also quite good.

    Both places primarily market to contractors, so they are open during the day during the week, and on Saturday mornings. Really, take the time to go to one of them. You will be quite pleased.

  • my reommendation would be to goto the Brass Knob warehouse and see if you can find similar moulding that you can refinish.

  • TW Perry on Wisconsin Ave.

    Also,check out Stair warehouse online.

  • Smoot Lumber in Virginia.

  • If you’re interested in having your woodworking done instead of doing it yourself, Designcraft Woodworking is the absolute best. They do custom built-ins, wooodworking, and cabinets and their work is incredible.

  • Check Community Forklift. They have lots for Architectural salvage and restoration.

  • People’s Supply in Hyattsville

  • Galliher & Huguely is the family business of George Huguely, as in:

    …”Huguely, 22, a University of Virginia senior and lacrosse player, is accused of beating his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, to death. He is charged with first-degree murder and remains held without bond.

    Huguely comes from a longtime Washington family, whose money’s rooted in the 100-year-old Galliher and Huguely Lumber and Building Supply company.”

    • other than being a nifty tidbit, what’s the point of this post?

    • anon. gardener

      Wow. They were closed the day we went to check them out. maybe they were in court.

    • Interesting nugget. Knowing that, I’d shop elsewhere.

      • Except it isn’t true. George Huguley is the nephew of the guy who owns the place, but neither he nor his parents have any interest, financial or otherwise, in the store. This is a really excellent neighborhood institution and a great family, it would be a travesty deny them business for no reason at all.

      • Is it your opinion that the parents of kids who do bad things should be further punished? Don’t you think people whose family members commit crimes are already enduring a lot of hardship? What is the purpose of ostracizing them further? Does it make you feel better?

        Of course, as another poster noted, this kid was merely a nephew with no financial interest in the business. Which makes such a boycott even more misguided.

  • Wow, this is really unfair, we know the Huguely’s very well. The UVA incident is unfortunate, but the young man involved is only a nephew to the family that run this place. They most certainly were not closed to be in court. Actually, the folks that run G&H are polar opposites from the Huguely’s that have been in the news, don’t smoke, drink or do drugs and are all very happily married.

    As someone mentioned earlier, this store caters to pros, although they are welcoming an helpful to homeowners. Their hours are 6:30am- 4:00pm mon-fri and 7:30am – 12:00pm on saturday. I know that unless I try to get there while they’re open, I end up missing them.

  • Also recommend TW Perry – they are open saturdays and have delivery services. Delivery is free if you order a significant quantity or are a commercial customer, otherwise there is a charge.

  • Smoot Lumber
    6295 Edsall Rd #20
    Alexandria, VA
    Phone: 703-823-2100

    they are the best

  • I’m an architect and we use Smoot Lumber company….they have all you’ll need!

  • I’m not sure where the companies that are mentioned are located, but our contractor was able to get brand new exact matches of our shoe moulding at a place on Georgia Ave (I suspect somehwre north of the 4000 block).

  • anon. gardener

    Thank you so much for all the suggestions!! Will definitely send an “after” pic.

  • Smoot and G&H are both excellent. If they don’t have the molding in stock, they can custom mill it to match an old sample. The knife would be about $50 extra.

    Soy-Gel is a great stripper. Apply thick, cover with plastic, sit overnight, 4-6 coats come off with ease.

    Heat guns are safe up to 1100 degrees as far as lead goes, but don’t set your house on fire.

    • The setup fee for a knife is a lot more… I investigated this once and I think it was like $250.

      For ogee, probably most people don’t care too much about exactly matching the existing ones. If you replace a whole room does it really matter if it’s an exact match?

      For casing, smoot has a profile that is nearly exactly the same as the standard casing used on may DC row houses. They do not stock oak, but you can have them mill anything you want from their standard profiles with no extra setup fee.

      Finally as another person suggested, if you have a lot to do, and it’s just ogee, you can save a bunch of money with a table saw and a router. The per-linear- foot price for oak could be as much as a buck at Smoot. You can buy reclaimed oak at a place like The Community Forklift and make it yourself for a fraction of this cost.

      • First google search for “custom moulding knives” and I found a guy that does baseboard knives for $68-128 for two knives. It depends how complicated the profile and the OP’s profile is real simple. If he didn’t want to router them himself, getting custom knives is a reasonably affordable option.

  • G&H doesn’t do custom milling, at least for window and door moldings. We just checked since we’re redo-ing our addition and trying to match the woodwork to the rest of the house. They do stock a lot millwork that match rowhouses in DC, though, and we were able to find matches to our pretty complicated moldings. Just bring in a sketch or picture. They’ve been great and the prices were very reasonable.

  • On a related note, where can you find someone to replace 100 year-old hardwoods – but only in spots where it is damaged beyond repair?

    We have a lot of original flooring in our house, most of it in miraculously good shape. The rest needs to be replaced before someone falls through it!

    • We did this. Troll Craigslist and call a couple flooring companies. I found a place in baltimore that was doing custom runs from an old whiskey shop. You need to know what wood you’re looking for though.

    • Try some of the DC hardwood flooring companies. They usually have old/used boards they have found over the years. I had to rip up a kitchen floor and sold the usable planks to one such company a few years back.
      Ask your neighbors as well – I have some in my basement and contributed 100sf or so to a neighbors project.

      It’s also fairly common to pull existing wood from closets to patch the original floor and then put something new in the closet.

  • This guy is out in the sticks but he’s doin the millwork on a killer exterior rehab at 3rd and M NW:

    Here are local hardwood suppliers, but if your’re just talking floor, the other responses work better. Still, you never know when you might want some 8/4 bubinga.

  • I need a carpenter who can replace curved moulding on my front door portico and fix whatever caused the water to leak from the portico roof. Any suggestions? A typical carpenter doesn’t know how to bend the crown moulding but I can’t believe it’s too difficult – I’m too old to do this project myself.

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