Thursday, January 7, 2016

Before and After: Refinishing Exterior Wood Doors

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Exterior doors take a lot of punishment from sun and weather exposure. Over time, crackling and flaking, swelling, and splitting often leave homeowners with two options, to restore their exterior wood doors or to replace them with low maintenance metal or fiberglass alternatives. While the latter seems like a good idea, nothing quite beats the beauty of an old hardwood door. With a little elbow grease even the most damaged doors can be revived.

Image by Charles Wiesner

These historic exterior oak doors were tired and damaged from years of abuse, but with some stripping, sanding, scraping, and staining these doors went from tired to terrific.

Image by Charles Wiesner
First, each door was stripped of its original finish using a paint stripper. For this project a standard liquid stripper and ventilated tank were used, if you plan to strip doors yourself a gel stripper is a good option, as it's easy to use and DYI-friendly. You can even find eco-friendly stripping agents as well. Be sure to follow the directions for safe usage on whichever product you choose.

After both doors were stripped of their original finish, each door was sanded using a heavier grit sandpaper for the first pass and changing to a finer grit sandpaper as the rough surface grew smooth.

It may be necessary to scrape moldings of any remaining finish that wasn't removed during the stripping process.

After scraping and sanding, dust each door to remove any remaining particles from the surface. This step is critical to ensure a smooth surface.

Image by Charles Wiesner
Next, apply your stain. There are many great staining options available on the market, but an oil-based stain makes a great option for exterior wood doors. Apply a coat of stain, and let it dry completely before applying the next coat. You may consider sanding the doors with a fine grit sandpaper between stain applications for a smoother finish. Apply as many coats as you like to achieve your preferred depth of color.

Once you have achieved the finish that you like, you will want to seal the doors using either a varnish, lacquer, polyurethane, or shellac. Your doors may require additional regular maintenance depending on what sealant you choose. Click here to learn more about your sealing options.

Image by Charles Wiesner
Before trashing your old doors for a metal or fiberglass replacement, consider refinishing. By following these steps you can take any old set of tired exterior wood doors and turn them into something terrific!

1 comment: