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wit's end 10-25-2011 04:09 PM

Fiberglass door, gel stain, and nervous breakdown
Ok, we got a new fiberglass back door with 15 lites and mini blinds between glass, and a glass transom on top (a $700 door bought from a building contractor for $250). Went to Lowe's and got Minwax old oak stain. Put two coats on Sunday, and loved the depth and shine of it. On Monday I noticed two spots that were a lot darker than the rest and they started knawing at me. Figuring I had a week off and had time to do it better, I tried to remove the two coats of stain with mineral spirits - didn't budge it. I sanded two small areas about 4x4" and THEN found an article that said to NEVER sand fiberglass. Then I went to Lowe's and got something called Lift Off and it removed the stain. Today I put on a coat of Zinzer 123 tinted primer, let it dry, then a fresh coat of stain. It looks like crap so not going to bother with the second coat.

I give up - going to just paint it with exterior acrylic.

Question: Do I remove the stain again with Lift Off? Or can I just put another coat of Zinzer over the one coat of new stain, then paint over that with the exterior acrylic? Can I seal the acrylic with the SPAR seal I originally bought to use over the stain?

I will NEVER, EVER try to stain anything again as long as I live - especially gel on fiberglass. But in the meantime, the last thing I want to do is screw up what should be a simple paint job. Any good, solid advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and God bless.

Gymschu 10-25-2011 07:59 PM

Wit's End, I will say this: Applying gel stain to fiberglas doors is one of the toughest jobs for a professional to do. I have done it several times over the years & the stress level is indeed very high. If you do actually luck out and get the stain to look good, you have to allow ample dry time before applying any type of clear coat or you ruin everything. My gut feeling is to get all the stain off the door and then thoroughly clean the door to remove any Lift Off residue. Then you can apply your primer and topcoats. I just have that ominous feeling that if you put Zinsser over top of the stain, you may regret the outcome.

igneous 10-25-2011 08:19 PM

fiberglass door
Our home was built in 07. The builder installed a fiberglass entry door which gets full pm sun for several hours in the summer (NC). It was painted with a semigloss latex paint. I recently painted it the same color, same paint brand (Duron/SW). The brush strokes are too prominent for me. Can I roll it to improve the finish? Should I use a foam cover? I noticed in a prior post not to sand fiberglass doors. How can I get a better appearance? Thanks.

Brushjockey 10-25-2011 08:24 PM

It might have needed a bit of thinning or extender to lay better. I'm one who adjusts paint to fit the need and situation. Also it might be a bit of brush technique.

TonyD 10-26-2011 08:18 AM

Wits end, I know just how you feel, I purchased a fiberglass pre stained door several years ago. The door gets approx 7-8 hrs a day of strong sun which caused the door to fade and peel in less than 2 years. In my stressful quest to restore the finish to like new I found the minwax gel stain to work pretty good. It doesnt look as good as the original finish but it's good. I just prepped the door with some light steel wool ( very light) and mineral spirits to clean, then stain , then after letting it dry thoroughly I used marine spar clearcoat.

MILKMAN. 10-26-2011 09:52 PM

The method I use to woodgrain a fiberglass door is, paint the door with exterior acrylic paint. This paint is your base color (darker the color more heat absorption). I am not fond of minwax gel stain, I find old masters gel stain works better. If you do choose minwax make sure you let it cure for 3 days before clear coating. After painting the basecoat next stain door with gel stain, complete the door in sections eg. Panels, stile, rails. Let the stain cure then topcoat with a clear coating. If you need more detailed info let me know.

wit's end 10-26-2011 09:53 PM

Thank you!
Gym and Tony - many thanks for taking time to reply. The door was flat on sawhorses, inside a screened in porch. Last night I was resigned to the fact that I would spend all day today stripping- again - even tho it was only one very thin coat. Maybe because I was already tired and frustrated, I thought what the heck, if I have to strip it again anyway, might as well REALLY have something to strip...and put on two more coats. Got up this morning and it looked good. Not great like I had hoped, but certainly not bad. And that's good enough for me. My husband and I put the door up tonight. I haven't Spar coated it yet, was thinking I'd wait until Sunday or Monday (4-5 days).

I wish I had the words to explain what went wrong the first time, but I don't. For about 20-24" it would go along as smooth and even as silk....then something gunky and dark would happen that I can't explain. It wasn't overlap or uneven brushing. No amount of mineral spirits or feathering would take it out. Like I said, don't have the words for it.

Thank you again, this is a neat board! :thumbsup:

wit's end 10-26-2011 09:56 PM

And thank you too Milkman, looks like we were posting at the same time, lol. Some really good advice here.

spraygunn 10-26-2011 10:10 PM

Hey wit’s,
Things are never as easy as the manufacturer would have you believe. If you want to really give up and paint the door then prime the exterior side using a good quality exterior oil base primer and finish using two coats of a good quality acrylic semi gloss exterior enamel. The interior should be finished the same except use a good quality oil base SLOW drying interior enamel undercoater and two coats of either satin or semi gloss enamel. If you take your time it will come out beautiful. OH by the way don’t forget to remove the weather strips before you start. You don’t need the door to stick and you don’t need paint on the black strips. Don’t put them back in until the door is finished.
When I talk with a potential client, they immediately think they know how I’m going to finish their fiberglass door and actually they don’t have a clue. They too think the gel stain is the answer to their project. It’s really not something a novice should attempt.

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