Our new front door started to fade less than 2 years after installation due to the direct sunlight it receives. In an attempt to avoid further damage, we applied Helmsman Spar Urethane to the entire door. While this appeared to help in the short-term, our door now has considerable damage, including cracks, urethane stains and general fading. Any suggestions for repairing our door, or is there little that can be done at this point? I've included a picture below.
Welcome to our on-line community. I can truly relate to your dilemma, as I had exactly the same problem in my last house. The front door received direct afternoon sunlight and after filling sanding and prepping every other year I finally gave in and painted the door and sidelights with Behr Pure Premium Ultra paint. This may be your best option depending on the severity of the cracking of the veneer on the door. If the cracks need to be filled, the new stain and top coat may actually accent the repair. Based on the photo, the cracking appears to be in the early stages and may be salvageable.
Most people are shying away from real wood doors and choosing fiberglass doors for this and several other reasons. They are available from several manufacturers in popular wood looking finishes including Cherry Mahogany, Light and Medium Oak. Many we carry qualify for the Energy Tax Credit of 30% of the cost up to $1500.00
If you do want to attempt to renew the wood finish I suggest the following;
1) Take the door off of the frame, remove all hardware and place on padded sawhorses . Remove existing finish using 100 and then 120 grit sand paper with a random orbital sander, hand sander, and scrapers for detailed areas until existing finish has been removed consistently. (Use of any finer grit than 120 may close the pores of the wood and not allowing the finish to penetrate)
2) Vacuum and dust the door insuring all particles have been removed from the surface. Seal the bottom and edges of the door prior to rehanging. Rehang the door and choose the stain desired. Start with the panels, then the horizontal stiles, finally the vertical stiles.
3) Now it is time for the topcoat. Spar has been the product of choice for years, but new products have appeared recently that are loaded with uv protection and also have elasticity and other good traits. Sikkens, and Cabot all have good products worth researching. I have used Sikkens personally and was pleased with the results. Whatever product you choose I suggest 3 coats. After the first coat has dried overnight lightly hand sand with 220 grit paper and recoat allowing to dry overnight again. Finally hand sand with 280 grit paper and apply final coat.
Please let me know how it turns out and would love to see before and after pictures if possible.
If you are willing to consider things not from THD, there is another option that wouldn't be generally thought of in your case.
Strip the door down to bare wood. Stain the color you prefer. Stay away from Minwax Wood Finish products, as they are interior only use. If you want to use a Minwax product, use their Gel Stains. After getting the stain to the color you want, find a deep or neutral base oil-based paint. Deep or neutral base has no pigment in it. It will go on clear. The problem you will have is finding the paint. THD used to sell the Glidden Ultra-Hide line of oil-based paints, so you might check with your local ICI dealer. The painting method will give you about a 4 year life span.
Anything with urethane in it, no matter how much UV protectant in it, will not last more than a year. Urethanes require, at minimum, yearly maintenance. Varnishes are about the same, only less drastic of a noticeable problem. If you are willing to spend north of $70 a gallon, Epifanes makes a line of marine, 2 part finishes that will stand up to any environment you want to put them in.
Thanks for the suggestions! Based on the responses that I've received thus far, I finally have some hope that we might be able to salvage this door, which was not the case this time yesterday.
Thank you for your helpful and thorough response. I had thought that we had little chance of salvaging this door, but your response gives me some hope. I'm planning to follow your suggestions and attempt to renew the finish. I may not be able to get around to this for a few weeks, but I will give you an update and send some pictures once I have finished the project.
Thanks again. I really appreciate it.
Can you patch the cracks with some type of spacking and then give the door a good coat of primer (I use Zinsser) and several coats of Oil based enamal paint (oil based holds up better especially in high traffic areas) and then a sealant? You may be able to strip the door, patch the cracks and then add a new coat of stain if you want the stained wood look instead of painted. But don't forget to add a sealant top coat! Personally, I love the look of painted doors. GL!