Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stripping & Staining the Front Door

I love the doors in this house.  I looked into it and found out that they are mission style doors.  I especially love that the front door matches all the interior doors.  The inside of the door was still unpainted, but unfortunately I couldn't say the same for the outside of the front door.  It was painted a gross chipping salmon color.  Look:

I had been planning for months that in early June once we were living in the house and the weather was nice I would refinish the door.  I figured I'd take it off first thing in the morning and get going so that it'd be ready to hang up before bed.  NOPE!  June got away from me and this project ended up happening four days before the wedding.  And we had a tarp for a door overnight since the door was not dry enough to rehang when we went to bed.  I am so glad that we did not wake to a raccoon in the house or something.

First I started with the heat gun and a scraper.  It worked really well:

I wish I would've stuck with it longer because once I switched to the chemical stripper I couldn't go back to the heat gun.  Though the problem with the heat gun was that I was dumb and ended up cracking two of the three glass panels :(  They are hairline cracks and hard to photograph.  On the bright side now I think I want to replace them with stained glass for privacy and prettiness.  

Here is the chemical stripper on:

And scraped off:

As you can see, the heat gun got more paint off.  I had to sand the rest of that paint off!

I sanded my heart out for hours and hours and hours:

And then I put on wood conditioner which is supposed to help the wood take the stain more evenly. You can see a test of it on the blog Young House Love here

And then it was time for stain. Here it is before I wiped off the excess:

And here it is in place:

The hardest part of the process was the detailed trim pieces.  It was just so hard to get at them without super precise tools.  I am so happy with how much better it looks. There's a couple of places that didn't take the stain that well, but it adds character!  I hope.

I also painted the threshold chocolate brown which helped cover up all the chippy paint. Here's a before:

And after:

I think I am one of the few people in the world who can say they were refinishing a door four days before their wedding.  I have odd priorities.  But I couldn't let it go because I knew all the wedding guests would be coming in the front door and I did NOT want them to see the old salmon door.  I am nothing if not super determined about very specific things.


  1. Wow, that is a clear difference in the heat gun for getting that paint off, compared to the chemicals. I cannot believe how much sanding you did on those panels! Strong arms, and determination. I love the grain of the wood. Original to the house, I imagine. Really nice, as I saw in person.

  2. I know! I sanded forever and ever but the difference it was making helped me keep going. Thanks!