5 tips for maintaining exterior doors

The elements and daily household traffic can dull an exterior door's finish and corrode its hardware. Here are five tips for maintaining and cleaning an exterior door.

5 tips for maintaining exterior doors

1. Wipe down

  • First, do a thorough dry wipe-down to remove surface dust.
  • Follow with an application of a water-based cleaning compound. For stained wooden doors, use a wood oil-soap. For painted finishes, use a homemade mix of 250 millilitres (one cup) of ammonia and a good squirt of mild dishwashing liquid in four litres (one gallon) of warm water.
  • Using a natural sponge, scrub the door in small circular motions from the bottom up; rinse the sponge often and make a new batch of cleanser if needed to avoid re-dirtying the door.

2. Polish the hardware

  • Once the door is dry, give its trimmings some attention. Protect surfaces around the doorknob, knocker, kick plate, and other hardware with plastic wrap secured with masking tape; then polish the hardware with a metal cleaner.
  • Clean glass or ceramic doorknobs with a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.

3. Wobbly doorknobs

  • Do you have a doorknob that's a little wobbly? Simply loosen the set screws holding the knobs in place on either side of the door and centre the spindle on which they turn so that it extends equally on both sides of the door. Then reposition the knobs and adjust the set screws for a snug but not binding fit.

4. Dealing with squeaking hinges

  • Keep hardworking hinges from squeaking with a touch of light machine oil.
  • To apply, pry up the hinge pin slightly by tapping a screwdriver with a hammer and aim a few drops of oil onto the shaft just above the hinge's upper barrel.
  • With a towel at the ready to catch any drips, swing the door back and forth a few times to distribute the oil over the hinge mechanism.

5. Maintaining locks

  • Never use an oil-based lubricant on locks; it can attract dust and grime.
  • Instead, give locks an occasional blast of powdered graphite, a dry lubricant that comes in a squeeze bottle for easy application. It's sold at hardware stores.
  • Powdered graphite can also be applied to latches and hinges.
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