5 Truths About Heritage Home Repaints

Heritage home repaints can be hazardous to your health and wallet. 

Before you make offers on heritage homes in Ontario, read these 5 truths about heritage home repaints. It may just help you decide if the cost of making upgrades is worth  it, and how much effort you’ll need to put into preserving a home’s heritage character.

Ontario heritage home rules for buyers and owners.

Painting walls
1. ‘Painted Ladies’ They Aren’t 

Gentle sage green is your favourite colour? Lucky you! 

Heritage conservationists like it too, so much so that it’s on the Town of Cobourg’s heritage colour palette. See Cobourg’s heritage colour palette

What isn’t are dainty pastels, like those on San Francisco’s Painted Ladies. That’s because heritage home repaints in the 19th century featured earthy pigments, like red oxide, ochre yellow, chocolate brown, or soot-like lamp black. 

Which color is best for your house’s exterior can depend on local heritage guidelines. Start by looking through historical photos of your property. For accurate matches to heritage colours:

  • send an historic colour specialist photos of your home
  • or forward chips of peeled paint to a paint consultant.

Heritage home specialists can analyze the original colour from your samples, and recommend suppliers with similar products. Minor touch ups can be cheaper than heritage home repaints, and restore your home without the need for expensive, and potentially hazard, paint removal.  

So before you pick up your paintbrush, check with your historic conservation office, or ask at a library. Nothing stands out worse than historically inaccurate heritage home repaints. (Fortunately, the off whites and natural wood stains on many heritage home palettes are also top sellers among buyers.)

How to make trims stand out during heritage home repaints.

2. Your Home Could Be Toxic

Heritage home repaints can expose a wealth of toxins. Your Victorian or Edwardian prize may be hiding layers of lead paint left intact during previous heritage home repaints. 

Up to 1990, many popular paints contained lead that can cause anemia, or brain and nervous system damage. Don’t take the chance yours does too. Contact local labs or painting contractors for a paint analysis.

Lead paint that is intact can be painted over, sealed with wallpaper, or hidden behind wallboard. But chipped, peeling, or damaged paint should be carefully removed. Here’s how to stage detoxifying heritage home repaints. 

Are home inspectors liable for missing obvious defects?

3. Frankly, It Stinks

Remember sick building syndrome? Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in interior finishes can get on your nerves (literally). High VOC paints, varnishes, or wood stains mess with your eyes, lungs, sinuses, and brain by giving off carbon-containing organic chemicals. Extended exposure in small or poorly ventilated areas can give you a headache, make you dizzy, cause your eyes or stomach to hurt, and wear you out. 

Check out this VOC hazards infographic.

Constructing your new home

4. Picky, Picky, Picky

Heritage home repaints are no ordinary labour of love. All that gingerbread trim and intricate, ornate detailing can consume hours of your time. Do you even have the equipment you’ll need (extension ladders, safety harnesses, scaffolding, chisels, specialized paintbrushes)? Aging facades call for restoration, not replacement, and that can be a challenge in itself. This could be a job for experts.

The Cost of a Repaint is Worth It

Heritage home repaints bring top dollar. Penny for penny, repainting exteriors and refreshing interiors returns value for money, real estate agents say. So how much does it cost to repaint an entire house, or have someone repaint the inside of your home?

Hiring a professional for heritage home repaints can cost $5,000 to $7,500 or more for an average, two-storey home interior. Interior repaints are around $3 to $3.50 per 0.09 m², paint excluded, a Toronto area painter says. 

Add more for elaborate trims, or ceilings over 10 feet. Closets, hallways, and ceilings are extra, with the cost increasing by size and complexity. Budget $75 to 500 per closet, $1,000 to $4,000 for hallways, and  $1,000 to $1,500 for ceilings. A gallon of paint should cover 37.16 m².

Exteriors average around $800 for the smallest bungalow, up to $10,000 and more for 325.16 m². Windows fetch up to $350 each, and doors $750 to $2,000. HST is extra.        

Adding a home inspection clause to Ontario offers.

Why You Need a Real Estate Lawyer

Your offer to purchase is just the first step in buying a heritage home in Ontario. Axess Law goes over the agreement of purchase and sale with you, and adds clauses you may have overlooked, like getting a professional home inspection. 

We liaise with your realtor and mortgage lender to finalize legal documents, and transfer your final payment to the seller’s lawyer. When mortgage financing gets delayed, Axess Law contacts the seller’s lawyer to ask for more time to complete your home purchase. We inform you if the deal falls through, who gets the deposit, or refer you to trusted legal partners if you choose to go to court. Common reasons a home sale fails.

Changing your offer by amending your sales agreements. 

Close real estate transactions, on time and for less, by using an Axess Law virtual real estate lawyer. Email your documents to us. We witness your signature online, and send you a copy for your records. It’s quick and easy.

How title insurance protects your home from theft. 

We search your heritage home title for construction liens or financial encumbrances before we transfer it to your name. Adding spouses to property title in Ontario is more convenient when you handle it all at once. While you’re at it, your Axess Law lawyer can write your legally married spouse or common law partner into your Will to preserve your property after you die.

Find a real estate lawyer near you. 

Signing contract documents

Affordable Real Estate Lawyers, Anywhere You Are


Access lawyers for less in Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, or anywhere in Ontario  when you buy, sell, or transfer property. Axess Law’s flat fee real estate lawyers are affordable, and our rates are all inclusive (excluding taxes, disbursements, and third-party charges). Axess Law offers you only the legal services you absolutely need. Your final invoice includes no surprises or hidden charges. Your itemized statement of adjustments is explained when we deliver it, and we answer any questions you have about it. 

Make a property title transfer (Ontario).   

Book Your Own Appointments, 7 Days a Week

Booking online is quick with our user-friendly web form. You can pick times and dates that work for you, 7 days a week. Make appointments in person by dropping by any Axess Law location in Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa. Our virtual real estate lawyers can close real estate transactions remotely anywhere in Ontario. Call our 647-479-0118 lawyer line, or toll free to 1-877-522-9377, to find day or evening appointments that fit your schedule.

We have onsite parking and major transit access nearby.

Hire a virtual real estate lawyer.