Our front door looked unloved. The front was dry and bleached in some areas and had peeling finish in others. Not very welcoming at all. The inside face was in good shape but once we removed the carpet we would have been left with three different wood tones. So after years of being overlooked we decided to pamper it a little by refinishing it with the same deep earthy tone as the staircase.
In the morning of your project day, we removed it from the hinges and set it on padded sawhorses on the front porch. If you are lacking in the porch department, any well-ventilated area with outlets will do. Prep your door by carefully removing all the hardware. Old or dry wood can split at this step so it pays to work slowly.
Take any hardware that has been painted over and put it in a dedicated “diy” crockpot. Cover with water, turn to your high or medium setting and set it aside. After you’re done sanding, you can take each piece out one at a time and wearing thick gloves use a scraper and wire brush to remove the paint. Stubborn paint may require another round in the crockpot. If you are SUPER FAST at sanding, estimate at least 3 hours for your hardware to cook.
Next, sand the flat parts of your door with a medium grit to remove the old finish followed by a fine (not super fine or you will clog the pores) grit paper to smooth everything out. Our door was very cooperative on the side without sun damage. The front was so damaged in places that our goal was more about preservation and evening the tones out than about a factory-finished look.
Use a sanding block or paper to sand any curved or decorative pieces. Finally, vacuum and wipe with a damp rag in preparation for staining.
Stain the edges of the door before you rehang it. In hindsight I would have also stained about an inch along the outside border of each face as well to minimize cleanup on the surrounding door fram and trim. Once everything is rehung, use a rag to wipe on a coat of prestain then stain.
And this is where it started to go sideways for us. The front was taking up the stain in wildly different degrees, even with the prestain. The damaged areas were almost black while the rest ranged from red to brown. It was a mess. Looked like it had been in a fire. Not a good look if you are trying to inspire ‘door envy’.
To remedy this, we agreed to try using a chemical stripper and re-staining. If that didn’t work we were going to throw in the towel and paint the thing. But it worked! Kind of. See for yourself. Anyway, it’s even enough that we are going to try living with it for a while. We may still end up painting it who knows.
Next we oiled the whole thing with linseed oil and reattached the hardware. If you don’t have the protection of a storm door you may want to look into a poly or similar. Here’s a great tutorial on applying poly.
What’s the trickiest curveball you’ve run into on a diy project? Tell us in the comments!