IMG_1005Refinishing Your Front Door


The front door of your home is generally a focal point of the front of your house. A well kept front door gives an inviting feel to your home. For many homes the front door is painted but for some homes the door is stained and varnished. Over time the varnish breaks down from weather and mostly from the sun. Once the varnish breaks down the stain underneath is no longer protected and begins to fade. In this article I will explain the process of refinishing a door and what you can do to protect the door.

The first picture on the right is a door that we have begun to strip. You can see the left side we have removed most of the varnish and stain. This is done with heavy duty chemical stripping gel. The gel is applied with a natural bristle brush and left on the surface for 5 to 10 minutes to let the chemicals break down the varnish and stain. Many times this requires multiple coats of stripper. The gel/old varnish mess is scraped off with plastic scrapers, brass wire brushes and steel wool. The next step invloves detail sanding all the surfaces and cleaning the door with mineral spirits.

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With the door in the picture someone had applied a polyurethane and stain in one product. This is usually done to avoid the true process of refinishing a door. These type of products are quick fix products that I do not recommend. Notice the close up of this picture. The wood grain is completely masked by the poly/stain in one product. This is why I do not recommend this type of product. It hides the natural beauty of the wood.


The third picture here shows a door that has been completely stripped and sanded. At this point the door is ready to be stained and varnished again. I always recommend oil based stains and varnishes. Water based stains do not penetrate the wood as well as oil stains and can often show overlap marks. We almost always use Sherwin Williams Sherwood stains. These are heavy bodied wiping stains the penetrate deeply into the wood. They are called wiping stains because you apply the stain with a brush and wipe off the excess before it dries. Deeper hues can be achieved by letting the stain sit on the surface for longer periods if this is the desired effect. The best practice is to let the stain dry overnight before applying the first finish coat. Three coats of a clear polyurethane or varnish is recommended for refinished or new doors. We use a product called Sikkens Cetol Door and Window. Each coat has to dry overnight before the next coat can be applied. A fine sanding coat is done between clear coats to knock down the wood grain that is raised when the first clIMG_1021ear coat is applied.

After the process is complete you are left with a beautiful door that makes your entrance warm and inviting. Now the natural wood grain shows featuring the door that was hidden under the mess that was on there before the refinishing process. Once the door is at this stage it is best to do a maintenance coat of varnish every 2 years to maintain the integrity of the top coat. If the top coat is maintained the stain underneath will stay protected and not fade away. If your door is well protected once every 3 years should suffice. If your front door is in need of refinishing please call us today. We would be happy to inspect your door and provide you with an estimate to make it look beautiful again.


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