There is just something magical about the looks of a home that has exterior wood doors. They tend to stand out more than any other type of exterior door and there are so many things that you can do with them. You can just put a clear finish on them to let their natural beauty come through or you can stain them to complement their surroundings. No matter what you choose, there will still be some maintenance involved in preserving the looks of your exterior wood doors. Following these different steps and considerations will help your wood exterior doors stay looking great.
Keep in mind there are many different types of wood doors. The steps to take care of each type of wood door are not exactly the same for all of them. These are just general guidelines to follow that often will produce great results. To determine exactly how to best maintain the looks of your particular wood doors, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Maintaining wood doors is not a one size fits all project. Every wood door has different types of environmental conditions that impact its looks. Exposure to such things as direct sunlight, moisture, wind and general wear and tear, all have a role to play in determining how often you need to do maintenance to keep your wood doors looking great.
Do Routine Wood Door Inspections
One of the biggest keys to keeping exterior wood doors looking great is to periodically inspect them. This only takes a minute or so and should be a part of any home maintenance routine. By taking the time to inspect your wood doors periodically, it will not only let you know how your wood doors currently look but it will also give you an idea of what environmental forces are impacting the door.
Conditions to be on the lookout for during a wood door inspection include such things as:
- Dulling of the finish – caused by age, exposure to direct sunlight and blowing dirt
- Bubbles in the paint or finish – caused by improper surface prep, sunlight, and moisture
- Peeling Paint – caused by moisture under the paint, environmental factors, and improper surface preparation
- Raised wood grain areas – caused by moisture and application of some water-based stains
- Dark streaks appearing in the finish – caused by being exposed to excess moisture
Anyone of these conditions will severely hurt the appearance of your wood doors and steps should be taken to remedy these conditions.back to menu ↑
Periodic Exterior Wood Door Cleaning Is Essential
When dirt, mud, and other debris cling to your wood exterior doors, they will slowly but surely start to eat at that wood doors finish. That’s why it’s a great idea to clean your wood doors every few months.
You can do this by simply putting some mild detergent on a clean cloth and wiping down the entire door front and back of them. Use a dry, lint-free cloth immediately after wiping the door down with the mild detergent.
One thing you never want to use to clean a wood door is glass cleaner. That’s because it will eat away at the paint or clear coat sealant that is applied to the door. If your exterior wood doors are stained but have no clear coat finish on them, adding some furniture polish or wax to their exterior will really make them stand out.back to menu ↑
Refinish Your Wood Doors Surface as Necessary
The absolute best way to restore the looks of and protect the surface of your exterior wood doors is to refinish them. On average, wood exterior door finishing should be done every two years or so. This is accomplished in one of two ways:
Applying a New Clear Coat Finish
Many people choose to add layers of clear coat sealant over their natural-looking wood doors to help preserve their unique look. Over time this clear surface coating will get worn away and start to dull-looking too. When this happens, it’s time to put a few new layers of clear coat finish on your wood doors.
In order to do this, all ‘six-door surfaces’ of the wood door must be sanded down first. Use a finer type of sandpaper such as 120-grit to accomplish this. Once this is done, then wipe the door down using a dry cloth and mineral spirits. Then its time to go ahead and apply the new clear coat finish. Use 2 coats when refinishing and 4 or 5 coats when doing a new clear coat application.
Most woodworking professionals recommend the use of marine-grade Spar Varnish when clear coating an exterior wood door. It contains UV inhibitors and is slightly more flexible than most other varnishes and polyurethane coatings.
One of the great things about decorative wood exterior doors is they even look great if they are painted. The problem with that is that exterior door paints will fade and experience other problems such as paint chipping and peeling too. When this happens that wood door will have to be repainted to get it looking good again.
Touch up painting can be done with the door in place but anything more extensive than that and the door should be taken off its hinges to make it easier to work on.
Before repainting your wood doors, you will first need to sand them down. Sand them down with 120-grit sandpaper so they are smooth and no peeling spots or bubbles remain. Once the surface is prepped then go ahead and repaint the doors using smooth brush strokes in the same direction as much as possible.
Many woodworking professionals choose to use Alkyd based paints on their exterior wood doors. That’s because these oil-based paints go on smooth and tend to show any exterior wood door’s natural grain pattern too.back to menu ↑
Protect Your Wood Doors against Sunlight Damage
What is one of the biggest reasons that a wood door’s finish starts to fade and look dull? If you guessed exposure to direct sunlight, you would be correct. The longer each day that the suns UV rays beat down on your wood doors, the more often you are going to have to take steps to preserve the looks of those wood doors. That’s why whenever you refinish your wood doors; make sure you use exterior clear coat products (polyurethane/varnish) that have UV inhibitors in them. Even painted wood doors should have a couple of layers of clear coat finish with UV inhibitors applied to their surface.
By paying attention to your door, inspecting it, adding extra layers of clear coat, and full refinishing when needed, you can ensure a long and beautiful life for your door. Protecting your door from the elements will also add years of use and beauty. Wood doors are stunning, appealing, and add warmth to any home, and are well worth the basic maintenance to keep them healthy and gorgeous.
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