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Most of you don’t see your front door too much because you go into the house through the garage, but for everyone that comes to your home – It’s one of the first things they see. If you were to “visit” your home, you may find your wood front door needs some attention. It may seem like another burdensome task, but it’s really not that hard to keep your door looking brand new all the time.

The worst enemy of your wood, whether it’s a door, a deck, or a fence, is the sun. So it definitely needs to be protected from the sun’s harsh rays. The clear coat is your protection; once the urethane is worn your wood door is vulnerable to decay. If the clear coat breaks down, the sun begins to attack the stain (the color) underneath. The stain will break down quickly at this point leaving the pores of your wood door open to the elements.

When your door gets in this condition, a complete chemical stripping is needed. This is the most difficult step in the process – and it’s messy. You will need a strong stripper that is formulated to remove varnishes, polyurethanes, and enamels, so make sure you get the right one. You can pick up the Klean-Strip brand at most hardware stores, and it will do a great job for you. You’ll also need to make sure you cover any glass, floors, hinges and hardware to protect them from the caustic stripper. We find it easiest to remove the front door and place it on sawhorses while working on it, but it can be done in place. It will probably need to be stripped several times to get all the coatings fully removed.

After you’ve got it stripped down, it’s time to sand. You’ll need some medium grit and fine grit sandpaper to get the wood properly sanded (you may also need a coarse piece of sandpaper for any stubborn areas). Remember, always sand with the grain of the wood; sanding against the grain will leave noticeable scratches in your door. A power sander will work well on the flat areas of your door, and the intricate places will need to be hand-sanded. Sand it until the wood is looking fresh, new, and clean again.

Now you’re ready to apply the stain. Make sure you dust it down good, mix your stain well before applying, and use quality exterior grade products. The easiest and most uniform way to apply the stain is with a rag. Let it soak into the wood and wipe off any excess. If you want a darker tone, apply a second coat after the first one is dry. Then the door will be ready for the final step in the process – the clear protective coating. This can be brushed or sprayed. We recommend three coats of clear finish for maximum protection on your wood front door. You will need to sand with a fine sandpaper and dust with a tack cloth in between coats.

Once the door is done correctly, it’s easy to maintain and keep looking brand new all the time – you just need to keep up with it. Depending on how much weather your door gets, it will need to be maintained at least once a year. Maintenance is a snap if you keep up with it. Simply clean the door off, lightly sand the outer clear coat, and apply another clear coat for your wood door protection. Now you can enjoy your wood front door and keep it looking brand new all the time.


DFW Finishers is an experienced and professional painting and deck staining business providing how-to and DIY information to Holly Springs, Apex, Cary, Morrisville, Raleigh, Durham, Fuquay-Varina, and Garner, NC.