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How to decorate a wooden door - DIY Tip 12

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  • External Doors are always best protected by a canopy or similar

  • Doors are generally supplied to you already sanded. However, during fitting they generally acquire some wear and tear.

  • It is always best to (where possible) add the finishing coat of decoration to doors after they have been hinged/fitted, especially exterior doors.

  • When sanding, always go with the grain of the wood to avoid leaving scratches. If using sandpaper (rather than wire wool) fold the edges over and use this folded edge to prevent the sharper cut edge of the paper going in to the grain and causing a splinter. In our experience wire wool gives a better finish and you don't run the risk of scratching the glass if your hand slips.

  • Use varnishes (not Yacht varnish) or wood stains to finish hardwood doors, Yacht varnish is in most cases too inflexible, it doesn't move with the the door and can allow moisture to penetrate over a period of time; the first signs that this has happened will be a whitening at the joints and where the mouldings meet the panel or glass.

  • Apply three coats of a recommended wood care product, Sikkens is one of the best makes. You will need to sand the wood in between each application with a fine sand paper or wire wool as mentioned previously.

  • Always make sure that the end grain is adequately coated, ie the top and bottom of the door.

  • Before applying anything to a new softwood door, coat any knots in the wood to seal them and stop resin bleeding through to the new coating on the door. If the door has not been pre-treated with a preservative, you can do this by applying a clear wood preserver.

  • The above is for information only, do not sell the cheaper Knotty Pine doors as they are a constant problem, they move more than a bag of worms.

  • To stain or varnish, use the directions above.

  • For a painted finish use a primer, followed with two layers of an undercoat, then finish with a topcoat.

  • Remember to gently sand the doors in between each coat when you decorate a wooden door.

Please make sure that no water based decorating products are used on any door that is veneered, if in doubt please ask our advice.


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Your door should be painted or varnished every one to three years, however some wood care products can last up to ten years. If you live in a coastal area or a harsh climate, you may have to add wood care protection to the door more frequently to keep it in good condition.


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