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Refinishing the Inside of an Old Trunk

Category Refinishing
Many old trunks were paper lined. If you are thinking of refinishing the inside as part of your restoration, consider repapering or perhaps paint or stain. This is a page about refinishing the inside of an old trunk.


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July 24, 2010

I have removed the smelly paper from the inside of an old trunk. What is the best way to finish the inside of the trunk now? Paint, wall paper, fabric?

By Edith Jones from Ten Mile, TN


Sheets of Cedar

I would paint, but they make sheets of cedar that you can cut to fit and glue in. Cedar repels bugs and smells nice. I love old trunks, but they sure can get musty smelling.

By Patricia

Ammonia or Baby Oil

If you want to replace the paper authentically and have a good idea of the era the trunk was made, you may be able to find reproduction paper online. Victorian is the most common era for reproduction, but other eras are being reproduced as well.

Give the trunk a light wipe-down with ammonia, that will kill most molds and any dust mites living in it, as well as remove the musty odor.

Use a soft cloth and just enough ammonia to get the cloth slightly damp, it's kind of harsh.

If you aren't using wallpaper, you can oil the trunk well, mold and bugs can't stand dollar store baby oil, a very cheap cleanser that works on almost everything. Oiling the inside won't help you at all if you go to apply paper, it just won't stick.


Use ammonia if you're going to line it, no matter what with, and oil if you aren't. Furniture oil doesn't bother mold and dust mites too much, probably since so much of it is made with nut oils, but baby oil kills them.

By Cornelia

Vinegar or Charcoal

To get the "old" smell out, try putting a small (open) jar or bowl of white vinegar inside the trunk and close the top. Leave it for a few days, and see if it isn't much better. If that doesn't work, charcoal in an open bowl might do it for you.

By Eileen M.

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July 24, 2010

How do I recover the inside of an old trunk?

By Lee from Mobile, AL


July 29, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Wall paper. You can use any kind. that is what it had originally I am sure.


They used to make them that way. Some really fancy ones were lined with silk but most were just plane old wall paper.

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July 31, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

First of all, are you sure you want to refinish? Is this an antique, or has it already been "fixed up" for appearances sake? If you do want to refinish the inside, the wallpaper idea is as good as any, just be sure that the "glue" you use will not attract "critters" that love to chew on such things. I mention that because we also live on the gulf coast, and palmetto bugs, mice, you name it, like some glue substances.

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