Refinishing Red Oak Exterior Doors - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-03-2016, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
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Question Refinishing Red Oak Exterior Doors

I'm a rookie with wood but was tasked to refinish this door-set at a beachfront home for a good friend in southern California.

I have stripped and/or sanded most of it already and have been trying to find a good match for the stain, but I still have many questions about the proper process in general.

The wood appears to be Red Oak and the wood on the left side of the door-set is darker and seems to have heavier grain than the door face itself and the wood on the right side of the door-set. The original color before I removed the finish was much heavier on the left side, too. You may be able to see a bit of what I’m referring to in the difference between the bottom of the doors (darker) and the top of the doors (lighter).

The final color is preferred to be at least as dark as the current finish and the customer prefers to stay away from red tints. As for a finish, I intend to seal it with a varnish of sorts, but remain uncertain of which specific product to use and how many coats. The customer prefers as flat of a finish as possible so I will be using a satin finish.

Meanwhile, there are a few steps in the process which remain unclear to me. I have asked around at numerous paint and woodworking stores and receive different info from each facility.
So far I have tried several colors and have used both oil and water based stains (General Finishes-oil, Zar-oil, Sansin EOS), but 2 of the 3 say they are interior stains which I’m uncomfortable using given the environment and have basically used them to find a color match.

The Sansin EOS http://www.sansin.com/product/eos/ was recommended as the product used on the high-end garage doors in the beach areas. This is the 3rd one down in the photo and the supplier says they can add color to the stock color if the 2nd or 3rd coat in my test section doesn’t get it dark enough.

Here are my questions:
  • What is the heaviest sandpaper I should scuff with? I have been told that 120 is sufficient so the old hard wood will absorb more color, others have advised sanding to 220. Is there a “right” answer???
  • Should I wash the wood with denatured alcohol or acetone before applying stain?
  • If I do wash the wood, how long to dry (75 degree beach weather) before applying stain?
  • Is there a way to lighten up the wood on the left side? If so, is it something a rookie like myself can handle and which products and steps are recommended?
  • Is there a preferred brand and/or type of stain to use in this environment? Keep in mind that California is environmentally unfriendly to high VOC products so we may not have some of the options available elsewhere in the country.
  • Is there a downside to using interior stain since it will be coated with a UV finish, or is that an absolute no-no?
  • How many coats of stain is the max?
  • Do I use a sealer or no-wax shellac in between coats or before or after stain? If so, which type and in what process?
  • Do I seal old nail holes and seams before or after stain and with which product?
  • Same question on finish Is there a preferred brand and/or type of UV finish to use in this environment? Remember that California is chemically challenged…
  • How many coats of finish is the max and how long in between coats?

Thank you in advance for any and all assistance and recommendations!

Rob
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post #2 of 5 Old 04-03-2016, 07:59 AM
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That's a lot of questions. To answer a few:

-sand smooth with an orbital to 150 grit, then sand by hand with 100 grit in the same direction as the grain. This will open up the pores some and allow the stain to penetrate better. If you power sand with 100 grit you will get lots of swirl marks, which is no bueno.

-use an oil base stain. Use only 1 coat. You want stain to penetrate, not lay on the surface. Anything added after 1 coat only stays on the surface and will cause problems with the finish adhesion and/or longevity. Especially in an exterior application.

-I would use a marine spar varnish for the finish. 3 coats with 24 hrs between coats, scuffing between coats with 320 grit sandpaper. If the paper gums up, it's not dry enough yet. Don't rush it. This is also an oil base finish, so I don't know if it's available to you or not. I seriously doubt that you will find a water based finish that will stand up to the UV from the sun and the salt in the air though.
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-03-2016, 08:03 AM
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You could also use a grain filler to even out the color and texture before staining, although the front of someone's house isn't usually the best place to experiment with new finishing techniques lol
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-03-2016, 08:40 AM
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First of all how did you strip it. Sanding a finish off wood is unacceptable. I realize the problems you have in California but if all possible the door needs to be stripped with a methylene chloride paint and varnish remover before sanding.

Here are my questions:
  • What is the heaviest sandpaper I should scuff with? I have been told that 120 is sufficient so the old hard wood will absorb more color, others have advised sanding to 220. Is there a “right” answer???
    Sanding is kind of a polishing process. You start with a coarse paper such as 80 to clean off any residue of stripping off and to work out scratches and defects. The problem with 80 is it will make swirl scratches in the wood you can't see until you apply stain. Once you get it cleaned up with 80 you go over it again with 120 grit to get the worst of the swirl marks but the 120 makes swirl marks too. You then go over it again with 180 to finish removing the swirl marks. 180 should be fine enough on oak. If the wood was soft it might be good to go to 220. It also helps to insure you get rid of the swirl marks if you wipe the wood with water between grit changes to raise the grain.
  • Should I wash the wood with denatured alcohol or acetone before applying stain?
    There is no reason to use alcohol in the refinishing process. It's not a compatible solvent for anything you are using. If you did use a methylene chloride remover acetone would be good to rinse the residue off. You could also use lacquer thinner. You don't wipe the wood with any solvent after sanding on oak. Some woods like teak that have a natural oil it's good to wipe with acetone.
  • If I do wash the wood, how long to dry (75 degree beach weather) before applying stain?
    N/A
  • Is there a way to lighten up the wood on the left side? If so, is it something a rookie like myself can handle and which products and steps are recommended?
    There are three different reasons the wood on the left is darker. One is the lumber there the density is softer. The person that finished it didn't sand the wood as well on that side as the other. Wood sanded to a coarser grit will absorb more stain than wood sanded to a finer grit. If the wood on the left had gotten wet and not re-sanded the water raises the grain and will absorb more stain. The only thing you can do is sand all of it uniform and test the stain on a small spot on the left and compare it to the right. If the left still goes dark stop and wash the stain off with lacquer thinner or acetone and sand that test spot. Then pour some of the stain in a mixing container and thin it and try again. The more thinner you add to stain the lighter it will get. It will just take some tinkering to get the right amount of thinner to make match.
  • Is there a preferred brand and/or type of stain to use in this environment? Keep in mind that California is environmentally unfriendly to high VOC products so we may not have some of the options available elsewhere in the country.
    For exterior wood I prefer to use a deck stain. The brand doesn't matter, just make sure you wipe the excess off regardless of the type stain you use.
  • Is there a downside to using interior stain since it will be coated with a UV finish, or is that an absolute no-no?
    An interior stain can be used however they are formulated for interior use which are more prone to fade in the sun. An exterior stain would be more colorfast but really there isn't a great deal difference between the two.
  • How many coats of stain is the max?
    Once wood is stained, it's stained. There is no reason to stain twice. If the color isn't dark enough with one coat use a darker stain. When using multiple coats of stain you risk having some of it dry on the surface or over-sealing the wood which can cause adhesion problems with the topcoat. The wood needs to remain porous enough to accept the finish. Then if a layer of stain is allowed to dry on the surface the finish will bond to the stain instead of the wood and peal off.
  • Do I use a sealer or no-wax shellac in between coats or before or after stain? If so, which type and in what process?
    The sealer you use in this situation is the finish itself. You just thin the first coat maybe 20% for the first coat. Being thinner allows it to soak into the wood better. You should not use any shellac product on exterior wood.
  • Do I seal old nail holes and seams before or after stain and with which product?
    The nail holes should be filled with wood putty before sanding. Fillers are available in a multitude of colors and you should pick one which is as dark or darker than the finished stain color. Wood putties don't accept wood stain very well. If it happens you get a wood putty that is too light after staining you can go over it with a touch up marker. I don't really know what you mean about seams. The gaps around the panels will fill with the finish.
  • Same question on finish Is there a preferred brand and/or type of UV finish to use in this environment? Remember that California is chemically challenged…
    If you can get it, hands down is Epifanes varnish. It's the best marine grade spar varnish on the market. It's available at places that sell boat supplies as it is formulated to use for the deck of a boat.
  • How many coats of finish is the max and how long in between coats?
    The number of coats will vary a great deal depending on the brand and the weather at the time you do it. Rather than number of coats you apply the finish to 3 mils thick. That is about the thickness of a lawn and leaf trash bag. The drying time between coats will vary too. Of course the longer the better but follow the directions. If the weather is cool or damp when you use any finish allow more drying time than the directions say.
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-04-2016, 01:27 PM Thread Starter
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Wow!

OUTSTANDING responses, THANK YOU!

I genuinely appreciate the time you took to provide so much detail.

Thank you again.

Rob
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