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A wood front door is one of the many great features that elevate a house design. Your wood front door also extends to the outside, exposing it to extreme weather conditions that may damage it after some time. These harsh conditions may deteriorate your door, especially without proper maintenance. Appropriate methods to restore your wood front door will help keep it in its best shape for many years, and what’s better is that you can do this all on your own! 

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Step 1: Detach the door from its hinges

Detaching the door from its hinges will help make the next steps easier, both in terms of ease in movement and range. Wood doors can be very heavy; it would be better to ask for assistance in removing and carrying it. Open your front door and lay down some blocks underneath it, to help keep it steady while you are trying to remove the hinges. Remove the pins from the hinges by lifting them, preferably using a flat head screwdriver. After all the pins are removed, the door can easily be detached and laid flat on your sawhorses. It would be better to work on the door in a shaded place, as exposure to the sun and other weather conditions may affect staining or varnishing.

Step 2: Remove all other door hardware

Some well-maintained doors won’t need much done other than applying varnish. However, for most cases, it is ideal to remove all other hardware attached to your door, such as handles, locks, mail slots, and other removable items. Doing this will increase the scope of your restoration and will have a better finish. Deadbolt cylinders can be removed from doors with antique mortise locks by unscrewing it from the internal side, then inserting a heavy-duty flat head screwdriver into the keyhole, turning it counterclockwise.

Step 3: Sand down the door

After removing all other items attached to the door, sanding the whole door down is now an easier task. A power sander may be used for flat surfaces. However, for intricate wood details, sanding it by hand is necessary. Start with 60-grit sandpaper, and work it out until 180-grit. This process will take longer depending on the intricacy of the carvings, but all previous finishes must be removed for the best result. When working with glass, make sure to place painter’s tape on the glass to avoid scratches. This will also be useful once you get to staining.

Step 4: Apply stain of your choice

It is important to first rid the wood of any sawdust particles for a better application. You can do this by vacuuming the door, and then wiping it clean for a clean finish. Afterwards, you may proceed to apply the stain. Be sure to completely saturate the wood using a paintbrush or a rag, that is, letting the wood absorb all the stain. Once done, wipe it down again using a painter’s rag. A second coat can be applied after the first coat dries completely for a deeper colour and sheen.

Step 5: Apply the exterior varnish

An exterior varnish, as opposed to an interior one, is specifically formulated to have additional protection against UV rays and harsh weather conditions. It ensures that your front door can withstand external exposure. For varnish applications, you would want to apply at least two to three coats for excellent protection. You can have a creative take on the finish by choosing a matte or glossy look.

Step 6: Putting the door back together.

After finishing all coats of varnish and letting it dry, the door can be reinstalled back to your house. Remember to put back all of the hardware. To fully restore your wood front door, you may also opt to polish the other hardware items attached to it. Metal polish can help restore the metal components of your door. Place the door back again with some assistance, and attach it to its hinges, and voila! Your door will surely be looking as good as new!

More tips on protecting your wood doors: Basic methods to protect wooden doors from sun damage

Pieter Boyce - Wooden Window and door specialist

Pieter Boyce
Wooden Window and Door Specialist

This article was written on behalf of Fortis & Hooke by Pieter Boyce. Pieter has an intense passion for English Architectural history and has been specialising in the conservation of original wooden windows and doors for decades. His exceptional knowledge of timber windows and doors, both listed or non-listed, is attributed to his hands-on approach to learning all aspects of the complete restoration of original features as well as having personally surveyed thousands of items throughout his long tenure as a head surveyor for one of the largest window and door restoration companies in the UK. He now runs a boutique wooden window and door consultancy and fervently champions the retention of original windows and doors. To learn more of Pieter’s services, visit his website at www.boultonboyce.co.uk.

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