How to Restore Old Wooden Doors

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Old wooden doors can provide a rich natural beauty and unique design to complement the decor of your home. These older doors are often more elaborate than new doors, and may even be more well-constructed. When you also consider the high price tag on a new wooden door, refinishing or restoring an older door can be the most practical option for many homeowners. This project can be completed in just a few days, leaving your door with a like-new finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Sawhorses
  • Metal polish
  • Polishing cloth
  • Painter's tape
  • Orbital sander
  • Hand scraper
  • Sandpaper
  • Rags
  • Wood seal or stain
  • Clean paintbrush
  • Remove the door from the frame. Use a hammer to tap out the pins in each hinge, or simply unscrew the hinges and remove them from the door. Set the door on a pair of sawhorses so you can access both sides.

  • Use a screwdriver or drill to remove any remaining hardware from the door. Cover windows or louvers with painter's tape to protect them from stains as you work.

  • Sand the flat sections of the door using a hand-held orbital sander. Start with an 80-grit paper and work in the same direction as the grain. Repeat this process using a 100-grit paper, then again using a 120-grit paper.

  • Hand-scrape the moldings or profiles on the door using a scraping tool. You may need several different tools to work with the different profiles on the door. Work gently to avoid scratching or gouging the wood.

  • Use regular sandpaper to access hard-to-reach areas. Sand away any remaining paint, stain, sealers or marks on the wood.

  • Clean the door carefully to remove all sanding dust and debris. Brush the door clean or use a vacuum, then wipe the surface with a damp cloth. Follow up with a tack cloth to catch any remaining dust particles.

  • Apply a stain or varnish to the edges of the door only using a paintbrush. Leave the faces unfinished for now. Once the top, bottom and both side edges of the door are sealed and dry, reinstall the hinges and rehang the door.

  • Brush stain or sealer onto the two faces of the door. Work on one area at a time to minimize streaking and produce the best results. For example, stain all flat areas, then trim, then panels, until you have stained all surfaces. Allow the door to dry overnight and repeat this step as desired.

  • Polish the door hardware and reinstall it, or choose new hardware for your newly restored door. Remove any painter's tape from windows and louvers to complete the project.

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