Fabulous Finish for an Exterior Door
Beautify a wood door with dye, stain, varnish, and a commitment to doing the process right.
Synopsis: Wood exterior doors are the traditional choice, but too often they are stained and finished poorly, with little consideration paid to how the elements will take their toll. But with a bit of extra attention during the finishing process—including careful prep, layering colors, and tricks for applying finish coats smoothly—will yield a durable entry that gets attention because it’s beautiful, not because it’s an eyesore.
VIDEO EXTRA:Finishing an Exterior Door
In the world of home building, we too often let time outweigh quality. That’s a concern I have day in and day out as a professional finisher. I try to help people understand that making their mahogany paneling, cherry vanity, or walnut stair rail truly shine means putting in the time, and we all know that time means money.
An entry door is a good example. For many people, a one-and-done premixed pigment stain applied to bare wood followed by a couple of coats of varnish is just too cheap and easy to pass up. That’s fine as long as expectations match efforts, but a bit more care and the simple added step of dyeing the wood will make a major difference.
Looking at stained wood is similar to looking through a window covered with a thin sheet of plastic; you can still see the grain, but it’s muddy and somewhat blurred. By layering the stain over a coat of dye, you can add depth and interest to the color. But achieving this look means more work. For example, a six-lite Douglas-fir door from Simpson requires about 22 hours of labor, which includes testing colors and making sample boards to try out color combinations.
Is my process the only way to finish a door? Absolutely not. It is, however, one that I…