How to Strip & Refinish a Front Door


Stripping and refinishing a door is a process that is time-consuming for both amateurs and experts, which is why it is a particularly ideal do-it-yourself project for a homeowner who is concerned about saving money. Before you begin, it is recommended that you do a thorough examination of the door to determine if it is constructed of solid wood or veneer. If the latter is the case, you will need to reduce the quantity of sanding that you perform in order to prevent wear-through. You’ll get more done in less time and the quality of your work will improve if you remove the door off its hinges and lay it on the ground, but in order to accomplish so, you’ll need an alternative method to keep the entrance concealed for the next several days.

  1. Put the door in its closed position and use the hammer and nail to remove the hinge pins. After opening the door with caution, gently removing it from its hinges, and then placing it face down on a pair of sawhorses, the door is now open. If the door is heavy, you should ask someone for assistance.

  2. Utilizing a screwdriver, take out all of the hardware. Put everything, including all of the screws, into a box and put the box in a secure location to keep it.

  3. Using an old paintbrush with natural bristle filaments, apply paint remover to one side of the door. The majority of commercial strippers include methylene chloride, which is a very corrosive substance. When you use it, you should protect your hands by wearing rubber gloves, goggles, and a mask.

  4. First, you need to wait for the finish to begin bubbling, and then you may use a paint scraper to remove the stripper and the finish. Be careful to scrape the surface thoroughly before the finish has had a chance to cure. Apply a second application of stripper and use 00 steel wool to scrub the areas of old finish that are particularly stubborn to remove. To remove finish from nooks and spots that are too tight for a putty knife, use the corner of the putty knife.

  5. After using clean water to remove any residue left by the stripper and washing the door well, you should next flip the door over and strip the opposite side. Allow the door to air dry completely over night.

  6. Masking tape and paper should be used to cover the inside and outside of any windows that the door may have.

  7. Using a pad sander, sand the wood until it is smooth. Sandpaper with a grit of 100 should be used to remove any finish residue or stain that may be present after stripping. This Old House recommends doing a second sanding with paper with a grain of 120. Sand by hand using paper with a grit of 150 to complete the project. Using a rotary tool equipped with a sanding attachment and operating at a slow speed, sand the interior of the mouldings, features, and carvings. Applying pressure of a modest level will prevent the wood from being reshaped.

  8. If the door is made of pine or similar softwood and you want to stain it, you should use a paintbrush to spread a layer of wood conditioner over the surface. The conditioner enables the wood to more uniformly absorb the stain and helps to avoid splotching from occurring.

  9. According to the advice provided by Nash Painting, you should apply liquid stain by brushing it on with a paintbrush and then cleaning off any excess with a cloth before it dries. If you are using a gel stain, you should apply it using a cloth and then remove any excess with a different rag. Always clean along the direction of the wood’s grain.

  10. Apply a layer of paint or clear finish all over the surface. Since spar varnish is resistant to the damaging effects of UV radiation, it is an excellent choice for the clear finish on the door’s outside. You may use it on both sides, or you can paint the inside with polyurethane.

  11. After the first layer of paint or finish has dried, which might take up to 8 hours, sand it down with sandpaper that has a grit of 220. Apply a second layer of paint. After it has dried, you will need to sand it before you can hang the door and apply the third coat of paint. Maintain the open position of the door while the finish dries.

  12. After the last coat of finish has been allowed to dry, you may then replace the hardware and remove the masking tape.

    Things You Will Need

    • Hammer

    • Nail

    • 2 sawhorses

    • Screwdriver

    • Paint stripper

    • Natural-bristle paintbrush

    • Rubber gloves

    • Goggles

    • Mask

    • Paint scraper

    • 00 steel wool

    • Putty knife

    • Water

    • Masking tape

    • Masking paper

    • Pad sander

    • 100-, 120-, 150- and 220-grit sandpaper

    • Rotary tool

    • Sanding accessory

    • Wood conditioner

    • Paintbrush

    • Stain

    • Rags

    • Paint or clear finish

    • Soap


    Spraying the door with paint using a paint sprayer will allow you to get a finish that is absolutely free of any brush marks.

    It’s possible that the finish may stay sticky enough for many days, which is a phenomenon known as blocking. It will adhere to the jamb. To avoid this, rub a bar of soap along the jamb. This will prevent the problem.