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htrieu 06-12-2012 02:35 AM

Need Help Re-Staining a Front Door
Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forums and DIY home improvement in general. Looking to learn a thing or two here and decided to start with fixing the front door.

The front door had lost its sheen and the color had begun to fade, so my dad attempted to sand it down and repaint it several times over the past few years. It was never done properly (I found out today that the door should have been stained, not painted, to restore its original look) so it looks terrible.

I want to get the job done right. Talked to some of the folks in the paint dept. at Home Depot and they recommended sanding the door down, wiping the dust away, applying wood conditioner, staining, then sealing.

We had already begun to sand the door, but I'm not sure when to stop. How much more sanding does the door need before the conditioner can be applied?

Here are a few photos of the door in its current state:

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

joecaption 06-12-2012 05:58 AM

Is it real wood or is it a fiberglass door?

With a deep grained wood like white oak it's not going to come out flat and smooth, the darker grains may may have to be done by hand if there's still any paint left in them.

I'd use a Gel stain, main reason it will work for a real wood or a fiberglass door.
Then I'd seal it with Bristal finish.
It has 7 times the UV protection of Min Wax Helmsman marine spar.
It drys fast, and self levels.
Yes it's expencive but well worth it, unless you look foward to doing this all over agin shortly. A rule of thumb is the more coats you apply the longer it's going to last. With Bristel It's possible to do three coats in one day. I'd concider 3, coats a min. number of coats.
If there is no roof to shade that door and it gets direct sun, it's going to be very hard on that door since someone chose a dark color.

htrieu 06-12-2012 12:59 PM

Hi joecaption,

Thanks for the advice! I'm not sure if it's real wood or fiberglass. How can I tell? I think it might be real wood due to the fact that I noticed a crack in the wood right below hte door.

Although the door has a small roof over it, it still gets exposed to direct sunlight during parts of the day.

I picked up a can of Min Wax Pre-Stain, Min Wax Wood Finish, and Varathane High Solids Spar Urithane yesterday. Should I return these and get Gel Stain and Bristal finish? You mentioned 3 coats - you mean at least 3 coats of finish in addition to one coat of stain? Is there any point in multiple coats of stain? Any need for Pre-Stain wood conditioner?

How do I know when to stop sanding? Am I looking for a certain color or texture? I'm not sure what this door looks like without paint so I'm just going at it aimlessly.

Thanks again.

Thurman 06-14-2012 11:21 AM

"joecaption" grabbed my first thought: This appears to be a fiberglass door with wood-framed lites bordering it. The only way I know to tell if this is a fiberglass door would be to use a very small drill bit and drill into it at a somewhat inconspicuous place, such as very low on the inside of the door, or maybe use a sharp knife and try to cut into it along an edge on the hinge side. A practiced hand would be able to knock on the door at several places and determine if it were wood or fiberglass. IF the crack you see is in the actual door itself, then I tend to think it is wood, IF the crack is in the door frame, then the frame would be wood and the door could still be fiberglass.

htrieu 06-15-2012 11:37 PM

Hi Thurman,

You might be right. The crack is in the frame. I will opt for the gel stain. Do I still need to apply the wood conditioner first? And how will I know when I am done sanding?

Thanks! You guys are the best.

joecaption 06-16-2012 06:32 AM

You only need wood conditioner on real wood and only then if it's a soft poris wood.
That door sure looks like fiberglass to me and even if it is real wood it's white oak so in both cases no wood conditioner is needed.

You brush on the gel stain, let it sit a couple of min. and wipe it off with a clean lint free cloth.
Do not try and do the whole door before wiping it off, the stain will dry to quick and will not wipe off and you will have a gooy mess.

You only need a sand enough to get the old sealer off, anymore and your going to expose the fiberglass fibers.

oh'mike 06-16-2012 06:40 AM

That door is a mess----you have 10 hours of sanding ahead of you---you can't add any stain on top of the old work---

Might be longer than 10 hours---

user1007 06-16-2012 09:37 AM

And it looks like you still have more than just stained wood you are still dealing with. Some of your top finish is still present. I would strip that off before sanding any more. Use a gel stripper and not when the sun is going to be shining on the door.

I think you are going to have trouble getting this to look decent even with a gel stain. I would think about priming and painting the door if you can stand the look.

Brushjockey 06-16-2012 10:17 AM

Joe- what is this Bristal finish that you mention- I googled it and got nothing about a finish.

I also think it is fiberglass, and you are looking at basically a faux job. I don't thing you can sand it out of fiberglass, and stripper might harm it.
You could paint a new base coat that was the lightest of the wood tones you are trying to achieve, and restain over that. Then a clear Spar.

behumble 06-16-2012 10:46 AM

Brushjockey: "You could paint a new base coat that was the lightest of the wood tones you are trying to achieve, and restain over that. Then a clear Spar."

couldn't you then just get away with cleaning and scuffing the old sealer?

Brushjockey 06-16-2012 10:56 AM

Sure- basic paint prep

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