The finish on a fiberglass entry door will fade over time due to exposure to the sun and weather. The refinishing process varies by the amount of fading and wear sustained by the door. A fiberglass door that shows slight sun fade can usually be restored with an application of a clear lacquer coat. If your front entry door has extensive fading you will need to strip the old finish off the door.
Removing the finish from a fiberglass door requires a putty knife, wire brush, clean rags and a chemical paint stripper. The paint stripper is applied directly to the door's finish. A putty knife is used to remove the finish from the fiberglass door. Fiberglass doors have a "grain" applied to their outer layer. The putty knife will remove most of the finish, but residue can remain within the door's grain. Wire brushes are gentle enough to remove the finish; however, if you continually brush in a concentrated area, this could result in damage. A clean rag soaked with paint stripper will ease the amount of brushing that you need to perform. Clean rags are also used to clean the door before the new finish is applied.
There are two different types of paint strippers. Harsh chemical strippers are fast acting, but care needs to be taken when they are used. You must wear gloves, safety glasses or goggles, and, if you are working indoors, a respirator. Citrus-based strippers are less harsh, but you still need to take safety precautions while applying it. Although not as fast acting as harsh chemical strippers, citrus paint strippers are extremely effective. Rubber gloves and safety glasses are sufficient protection when using a citrus-based paint remover.
Prepping the Door for Refinishing
To prep the fiberglass door for refinishing you will need to remove the door handle and deadbolt. This is easily accomplished with a Phillips screwdriver. You must then decide to either remove the door from the hinges or refinish the door hanging in the vertical position. Whichever way you decide, masking tape will be needed to protect surfaces that are not going to need a new finish. A thorough cleaning with a mild detergent and water will be required to remove residue left from the stripping process.
Applying the finish to a fiberglass door is similar to a wooden one. The finish needs to be applied in the direction of the grain. Look at your door. The grain pattern is not typical for the entire door. The long vertical sides are grained perpendicular to the floor. The shorter pieces between the vertical sides are grained parallel to the floor.
If you are using a stain finish care needs to be taken where you start and stop applying it. Overlaps that are left unchecked can result in darker color lines in the final finish. Lightly running a paint brush over the lapped areas to even out the stain is a good way to blend stained lines.
A clear coat lacquer should be applied after the new finish has dried. This will reduce fading and with the clear coat applied, the door can be refinished by simply re-applying a new clear coat.
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