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Old-House Online » Old-House Tips, Restoration Stories, & More » Repairs & How To » 3 Ways to Refinish an Entry Door

3 Ways to Refinish an Entry Door

Three DIY ways to give your front door a new look.
By Mary Ellen Polson

    Painted entry doorBefore you start any of these refinishing projects, remove the door and all fittings and lay it flat across sawhorses to work, if possible. Otherwise, mask all hardware with painter’s tape.

    Painted Finish

    Step 1
    Chip away any loose paint and sand surface with 80-grit sandpaper so that the surface will hold new paint.

    Step 2
    Paint the door with wood primer, starting at a top corner and working toward the floor, then painting the other side, including the edges. Let dry, then sand with 220-grit sandpaper. Clean with a tack cloth.

    Step 3

    Apply the first coat of finish paint with a quality-bristle brush, using the same stroke method. Apply paint to an unpainted part of the door and brush back into wet paint. Allow to dry.

    Step 4
    Sand the first coat lightly with 220-grit sandpaper and clean with a tack cloth before applying a second coat. Allow two days’ drying time before resanding and cleaning prior to adding a third coat.

    Step 5
    Allow another two days before reattaching the door or removing the painter’s tape.

    Watch the Video: How to Paint a Paneled Entry Door

    See more videos like this at How to Paint a House Right.

    Stained Finish

    Stained and varnished entry doorStep 1
    Strip and/or sand away any existing varnish, using successively finer sandpaper and an orbital sander. Wipe with a tack cloth.

    Step 2
    Cover the entire surface of the door with a clear wood preservative such as boiled linseed oil, starting with the molding and edges, then the flat surfaces. Allow to dry thoroughly.

    Step 3
    Brush on the stain, blending the edges with light, overlapping strokes. Wipe away any excess. The longer you let the stain soak in, the darker the finish it will be. Allow to dry for 24 hours before applying a second coat.

    Step 4
    After applying the final coat, let dry for two days. Then apply multiple coats of a good quality varnish. (Use marine-grade spar varnish for an exterior door; ordinary polyurethane will yellow and crack quickly when exposed to sunlight and damp.)

    Step 5
    Refresh as necessary with additional varnish coats.

    Mirror Finish

    Mirror-finish entry doorStep 1
    To get this European look, chip away loose paint, and sand with at least three successively finer grades of sandpaper, until the finish is smooth to the touch.

    Step 2
    Prime the door with an oil-based primer. Apply several coats of a brilliant-quality enamel, such as Fine Paints of Europe’s oil-based Hollandlac. Polish with fine-grit sandpaper between coats, and wipe down with a tack cloth.

    Step 3
    For best results, apply at least five thin layers of paint, until the last coat reaches the desired shine without sanding.

    Published in: Old-House Journal April 2015

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