What You Need to Know About Refinishing Your Wooden Front Door

Your front door speaks volumes about your home and about the amount of care and attention that you spend on it. It’s all very well having a neatly mown lawn and stylish curtains hanging in the windows, but if your door is looking less than stellar then it’s letting down your home as a whole. So how do you elevate your front door style from shabby and not-so-chic to smart and inviting? Read on and Sharper Impressions Painting will enlighten you.

Your front door takes a real battering from the elements, and it’s not just rain, hail, sleet or snow that can take their toll on your exterior woodwork. The sun, and even wind, can have a detrimental effect on both finishes and the wood itself too, with fading and cracking occurring and leaving your door looking dull, dated and downright dismal.

Take a quick look at your own wooden front door now, or when you get home from work. (If you are at work – why are you reading blog posts about refinishing your wooden front door on company time?!) Be honest with yourself, has your door seen better days? Would refinishing it improve the appearance of your home? Coming home to a house that is cared for from tip to toe is nicer for you, more welcoming for your visitors, appreciated by your neighbors, and of course boosts your curb appeal if you’re trying to sell your property.

So what does refinishing a wood door actually entail? Well, it’s not quite as simple as slapping on a coat of varnish because, if you want to do a thorough job that does justice to the amount of time and money you’ve spent on the project, there are a number of steps you need to take.

Probably the number one sticking point for most people when they think about giving their front door a new lease of life is the fact that, in order to do the job properly, you really do need to take it off its hinges. This will make sanding the door down and refinishing it much easier – after all, it stands to reason that a door laid flat is easier to work on than one that is swinging on its hinges. And no, refinishing your door while it’s closed doesn’t count – you won’t be able to treat its edges properly, let alone the sides.

So we’ve established that you really do need to unhang your door. Once it’s off its hinges you’ll need to carefully move it to your workshop or garage, and place it on sawhorses ready for sanding. (Don’t forget to secure your home while your front door is being worked on! If you don’t have a storm door you could use a large sheet of plywood, cut to the specifications of your door frame.)

The next step is to remove the hardware: the door handle or knob, lockset and deadbolt plus knocker and numbers, and letter box if you have one. Don’t forget to take note of how the locks and bolts were fitted in the first place!

Now it’s time to remove the door’s old finish. The good news is you can use an orbital sander for the bulk of this. The bad news is that moldings, window trims and other awkward-to-get-to parts will need to be sanded by hand. When you’ve finished sanding, you will need to remove the dust before staining and/or finishing the door. Once the first coat of finish is dry, the door will need to be lightly sanded again and a second coat applied. When the second coat is completely dry, replace hardware such as handles, knockers and numbers, and then carry your door back to your house for rehanging. Only once the door is rehung can you then replace your lockset and deadbolt – this needs to be done with absolute precision to ensure that both sides match exactly.

Refinishing your wooden front door will make all the difference to the exterior of your home and the first impression it creates on visitors. However, it is a surprisingly convoluted and time consuming task, especially when it comes to the rehanging and sanding steps in the process.

If your wooden front door would benefit from a little care and attention but you don’t have the tools, time or energy to devote to the job, talk to the team at Sharper Impressions Painting and we’ll be happy to take care of it for you.