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How to refinish a stained wood front door

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Our wood front door has a beautiful dark stain, I usually try to maintain it by applying a protective coat every 1-2 years. However, it has honestly slipped my mind for the last few years.

The result? A very dry wood door with flaking stain that scratched easily. Not good at all. The front door is the first impression of our home, so I knew I had to do something about it.

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When I maintain it correctly and apply the protective coat every year or two, I simply give it a light sanding it with a 220 grit sand sponge (this pack is my favorite) to remove the sheen and then apply this product. But with the finish being in such a bad condition, I knew I had to sand the door to bare wood.

I enlisted my husband to help me remove the door from the hinges, you could do it on the hinges but I can't imagine the shoulder pain after sanding the whole door.

I removed the hardware, and then I started sanding my heart away. I used my finishing sander and started with an 80 grit sand paper to remove the finish and increased the grit to 180 and 220 to leave it super smooth.

For the grooves, I used this micro sanding tool that helped me get into the hard to reach areas.

Once it was completely sanded, I wiped the whole door with a tack cloth (you can use a lint free cloth) to make sure it was dust free before staining it.

Now for the staining part. If you want the most even application, make sure you use a wood conditioner prior to staining. It helps the wood absorb the stain more evenly for a perfect application. There is both an oil based version and a water based one. Regardless of the type of stain you use, make sure the base for both your stain and wood conditioner is the same. I used this one. This is how the door looked right after applying the wood conditioner.

Once you applied the wood conditioner, wait 5-15 minutes, remove any excess conditioner, and then you can start staining. I used this stain in color Jacobean.

I applied using a staining pad. I simply dipped it into the stain and wiped it on the door. It took me a whopping 5 minutes (maybe less). But the drying time is a different story...

After a few hours, I gave it a second coat using the same process. This is how it looked after the second coat.

And then I waited a few more hours before applying the protective coat. The stain alone does not protect the wood, its purpose is only to enhance the beauty of the wood by adding some color. But in order to protect your wooden door (or any other piece), you need to apply a protective coat.

For outdoor pieces, you need a product that will protect the wood from sunlight, rain, temperature changes, moisture, etc. This product is my favorite for this, I like to use the satin sheen.

Ideally, you need to apply at least 3 coats. You also should sand with a fine grit sand paper or sanding sponge between coats. By the time I was able to apply the second coat, it was getting dark. So I decided to let it dry and hang the door back up. I let it dry overnight and applied the third and final coat the following day.

The next morning, I gave it a final light sanding with a 220 grit sponge, wiped it with a tack cloth, and applied the last coat of spar urethane. I left the slightly open for a few hours while it dried and then I installed the new hardware (this deadbolt and this handle set).

The result? a sleek and modern looking entry door. It looks beyond amazing!

When was the last time you applied a protective coat to your front door?


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