The key to restoring and renovating old wooden doors like an expert

November 26, 2014

Bringing an old door back to life is rewarding and eco-friendly. If you've never done it, here's how to restore and renovate old wooden doors like a pro.

The key to restoring and renovating old wooden doors like an expert

Making what's old new again

Old, antique, reclaimed, or found wood doors are a trendy home renovation feature. At a time when building a home from the ground up can be costly to our environment, renovating old home features is both an eco-conscious and sustainable practice.

Starting condition of the door

First, examine the current condition of the door.

  • Exterior doors are exposed to the sun and elements, which can cause warping, cracking, fading of the paint or finish, and more. Even if the door wasn’t exposed to the outdoors, age can cause similar changes.
  • The severity of the blemishes will determine how much work must be done to restore an old wooden door—and if the effort is worthwhile for you.

Strip and sand the old door

  • Remove the door from its hinges. You’re going to need to strip and sand the door on both sides.
  • First, remove the old finish with a pull scraper. Don’t press down on the pull scraper too forcefully, as it may gouge the wood.
  • Using a gentle strip solvent, remove the remaining paint from the door.
  • After the remaining paint has been taken off, begin to sand the door. More severe blemishes will require starting with a rough sandpaper, working your way down to a finer one.

The other alternative to renovate an old wooden door is to find a finish that matches the original one.

  • Following some gentle sanding, apply the matching finish to the wood.

Fill in any undesirable gaps or cracks in the wood using a wood putty or wood wax.

Refinish or repaint the door

When refinishing or painting an old door, you should start with a smooth surface. If your door is thoroughly sanded, this won't be an issue.

  • Starting on one side, spread the stain on your door with a brush.
  • Then, wipe the excess off with an old rag.
  • If painting, spread the paint with a paint brush in even strokes, avoiding drips, or applying a too-thick layer.
  • After you’ve put on the first coat of paint or stain, allow it to dry overnight. Then, apply as many coats as you desire.

Seal your refurbished door

Once your stain or paint is dry, you’ll want to seal your refurbished door. Why?

  • Sealing the door helps the finish stay fresh and bright.
  • It also protects the wood from weather damages.
  • Polyurethane varnish is the most widely used sealant for doors.
  • Once one side of the door has been refurbished and is dry, flip it and repeat the process on the other side.

Being able to renovate an old wooden door is a simple and rewarding process: it requires only your time, a few supplies, and will save you money. What's more, not only are older doors made with eye-catching craftsmanship, but they will be unlike anything available from today’s standard manufacturer.

Once your door is complete, you’ll be proud and impressed at the statement a recycled door makes!

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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