Front Door Refinishing

You know those creepy people who lived in your neighborhood when you were a kid? The ones with papery thin skin, who only came out at dusk, and had bats looming overhead at 10 o’clock in the morning? Yeh, them. Well, I think we bought their front door.

And honestly, it’s quite alright in October, when we’re vamping up for Halloween. Or at Christmas when the door is covered in tinsel. But, the rest of year, it just makes us seem weird. We already have 4 kids and a pet rat. So to our neighbors, it ain’t lookin’ good.

In an effort, to calm any nerves that might be frazzled by the horrific state of my front door, I have decided to refinish it.

NO, I’ve never refinished anything before in my life! And I don’t see how that matters!”

The guy at Home Depot already thinks I’m crazy, so it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t believe in me either. But, I’m going to do this thing, and my door is going to be beautiful. It’s like my Uncle Wilbert used to say, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Do you think that applies to front doors too? Anyway, too late now, I’ve already bought my supplies, and if you’re nice, I’ll even tell you what I did.

Refinishing Your Front Door

Note: A word to the wise. This project can be done in a day, but you must start early in the morning if you don’t want the neighbors wandering cat sleeping in your bed.

What you Need:

(I didn’t use nearly this much material because of the large piece of glass in the center of my door. But these recommendations should give you plenty to work with, no matter the size of your door.)

Phillips [+] and Flat Head [-] Screwdriver


One Gallon of Semi Paste Paint Remover (optional – I didn’t use it, but if you have a lot of paint on your door, this would prove easier than using sandpaper)

2″ bristle brush for removing paint

plastic scraper for removing paint

Fine grit sandpaper (220)

Painters Tape

Minwax Stain (quart)

sponge brush (for staining)

2 spray cans of Spar Urethane (Gloss)

steel wool

Paper Towels

What To Do:

  1. Remove the hinge pins from the door. The bottom pin should be removed first. You can do this by placing your flat head screwdriver between the point where the head of the pin and the top of the door hinge meet. Tap lightly on the bottom of your screwdriver with your hammer until the pin loosens and is able to be pulled out (if you are unable to fit the screwdriver in between the head of the pin and the hinge try pushing the pin up from the bottom using a phillips screwdriver and hammer). The top pin should be removed next, ending with the middle pin. Lay the door down on a flat surface with the side you’ll be working on facing up.
  2. Clean the door with an SOS pad. Let the door dry completely. Using the sandpaper, thorougly scour the door, moving in the same direction as the grain. Remove all dust with a lint free cloth.
  3. Using painters tape, tape off any glass or hardware that you do not want painted.
  4. Working in sections, apply the stain with a foam brush, to prevent streaks. Be sure to wipe off the excess with a paper towel. Once the optimal color is achieved, it isn’t necessary to let the door dry completely before applying the spar urethane. I waited a few hours before moving on to step 5, just to be cautious.
  5. Spray spar urethane evenly over the door. The sales associate at Home Depot recommended using the spray instead of the paint can. He indicated that the paint can must be applied with a brush, and under novice hands it will leave streaks on your front door that will be quite visible (and that is not a good thing).
  6. Repeat step five, 6-8 times, waiting at least one hour between applications. Drying times will reflect outside temperatures and humidity. In between coats you can lightly brush the door with steel wool to remove any small air bubbles or particles that have blown onto your door.
  7. Re-install the door once it is dry to the touch.
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