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Recommended Door Finish - Refinishing Instructions

  • Read this flyer carefully before you begin.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on all finishing materials you use.
  • Finish all four edges (top, bottom, and side edges) with the same number of coats used on the face and back of the door. All six sides must be finished.
  • Make sure you have all the tools necessary to do the job correctly before you start.
  • Inspect your door often. Don’t wait until it is severely weathered before deciding to refinish. At the first signs of weathering, (a dry, rough surface feel usually shows up first on the face trim and edge components of the exterior of the door). The objective is to keep water from damaging the wood surface.
  • If your door shows signs of weathering and is in need of refinishing, you may contact JD’s Glassworks Inc. at 770.517.9537 for a subcontractor referral in the metro Atlanta area that performs refinishing services or you may undertake the refinishing process yourself using the following recommended procedure.

NOTE: JD’s Glassworks, Inc. is not responsible for the results achieved when following these recommended finishing instructions. There are many variables that can affect the outcome and final appearance of the finished product. These instructions are general guidelines and are intended for use by those with prior experience in wood finishing.

For finishing, you will need:

  • Medium grit sandpaper sponges
  • Fine grit sandpaper sponges
  • TOP QUALITY 3” brush suitable for mineral spirit based varnishes and urethanes.
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Tack Cloth
  • Mineral Spirits
  • One to Two Quarts of Top Quality exterior spar urethane (with UV inhibitors)
  • One Quart of Mineral Spirit based Stain of the desired color (with UV inhibitors if available)
  • Clean rags or shop cloths
  • Painters masking tape
  • Replacement Door Sweep as deemed necessary
Step One: Handling

  • For best results, your door should be finished/refinished in a flat, horizontal position.
  • Most decorative mahogany doors weigh in excess of 100 lbs. Use appropriate help to lift and carry.
  • Lay the door across two padded sawhorses to avoid damaging the opposite surface.
  • Finish/Refinish your door in a well ventilated area free of dust and airborne debris
  • Allow approximately one full week to complete the finish/refinish process. Take suitable measures to secure your door entrance during this time.
  • Remove all door hardware, hinges, Lockset, etc. from your door. If your exterior finish shows signs of stress cracks along the bottom edge you should remove the door sweep to allow proper resealing of that area. Replace the sweep if the old one shows signs of excessive wear.
  • Mask off all glass areas on the side(s) of the door being finished/refinished. Use caution not to overlap the masking tape onto the wood surface.

Step Two: Surface Preparation

Initial Finish: Make sure raw wood door has had sufficient time to acclimate to the environment ( 24 hrs ) and that all cuts needed to prehang/prefit the door have been made before starting the finish process. Inspect the door and make sure that there are no dust, debris or oily areas on the raw wood. Correct as necessary. Using fine grit sandpaper, lightly sand the surface and trim of the door with the grain. Note: Many door products today are ‘engineered’ doors with a laminated wood surface. Engineered doors cannot be heavily sanded. Heavy sanding will damage the laminate and void the manufacturer’s warranty. Thoroughly brush away all sanding dust and follow up with the tack cloth taking care to remove all accumulation from corner crevices. Any dust debris left behind will prevent the finish coats from adhering properly. Wear your dust mask during all steps that create wood dust. If you use compressed air to blow away dust, make sure that the air supply is properly filtered so that oil and water particles do not contaminate the wood preventing proper stain and urethane adhesion.

Refinishing: Sand all prefinished wood surfaces, with the grain, using a medium grit sanding sponge. All loose and cracked finish must be removed before applying additional polyurethane. Use care NOT to sand through the existing finish to the bare wood. The objective is to provide a uniformly roughened base to which the reapplication of polyurethane will be able to form a mechanical bond. Thoroughly brush away all sanding dust and follow up with the tack cloth taking care to remove all accumulation from corner crevices. Any dust debris left behind will prevent the refinish coats from adhering properly. Wear your dust mask during all steps that create urethane dust.

Step Three: Staining (Optional)

Initial Finish: Select your stain color carefully. Be sure to test it on a sample of the same wood species to assure it is the desired color. Test it on the top or bottom edge of the door if a wood sample is not available. Review your door for natural wood color variations before applying the stain. For more uniform coloration increase the number of coats and absorption time on the lighter areas in order to ‘blend’ their final color in with the naturally darker areas of the door. Follow the stain manufacturer’s application instructions. Most wood species exhibit color and grain variation to some degree. This adds to the beauty of a natural wood product. Absolute uniformity in color and grain is not possible. If the desired end result is a perfectly uniform coloration, then solid color paint, not a semi-transparent stain, is the finish to use. Whether using a stain or paint, note that the darker the color, the hotter the door will become when exposed to direct sunlight. Please note that excessive heat will stress the wood and in some cases cause premature failure.

Refinishing: It is normal for your door’s original stain color to fade over time due to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It is possible at this stage to somewhat ‘renew’ the color by wiping the roughened surface with a slightly dampened cloth with the stain color desired. Successive applications can be made in selective areas to color balance as much as possible the entire surface of the door. Too much stain (a soaked cloth) can excessively darken the door to the point of no return. Use stain sparingly at this stage. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Allow to dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations before proceeding. NOTE: make sure to use a stain that is compatible with the urethane topcoat: Oil based stain with oil based topcoat.

Step Four: Top Coat

Initial Finish/Refinishing: Select a quality exterior grade spar urethane with an ultraviolet inhibitor. Make sure that the stains and urethanes are compatible. Read the instructions on the can before doing anything. Prepare the stained surfaces by wiping with a clean, dry, lint free cloth. Make sure the urethane is thoroughly stirred in order to mix the hardening materials. (shaking causes undesirable air bubbles to form)
Apply the urethane using “across the grain” strokes wherever possible. Further smooth the urethane using “with the grain” strokes. Work quickly to complete the entire door surface area because the urethane will blend and self-level only when fairly wet. Allow to dry for at least 12 hours between coats or in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. The dried surface may be lightly sanded between coats with a fine grit sanding sponge. Remove all dust with a clean cloth and tack cloth before applying the next coat. Normally three coats are required for adequate protection and best results.