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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need some advice on staining a mahogany door that I will be installing in my house. It's an exterior door that faces West, however it never gets any direct sunlight due to some large pine trees. I have experimented with a couple of Minwax Stains and was fairly happy with the dark mahogany or espresso colors. I was all set to use it before a friend of mine warned me that it was only intended to be used on Interiors. I was curious if anybody had any thoughts on this and could give me more information or advice on what to do since I am dead set on achieving this dark brown finish on my exterior door and trim. It's really confusing trying to find a stain that will work and it makes me wonder how they did it a hundred years ago. I was also looking at their duraseal line of stains that were designed for hardwood floors. I have successfully used it on my staircase and railing and it looks great. Not sure why that can't be used on an exterior with the proper top coating either.

Also, if anybody has any suggestions on a top coat that won't peel or crack that would be helpful, as well. My friend warned me to stay away from Helsmann Spar and told me that I need to find something that will Flex with the movement of the wood. But unfortunately he couldn't give me any further advice. I don't want to go with a full gloss that you would normally find in a marine store. I'm looking for a finish between satin and semi-gloss. Thanks for your knowledge and advice ahead of time!

Brown Wood Grey Beige Flooring
 

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The challenge that I'm aware of with stain outdoors is fading from the sun. I know dyes fade, but to my knowledge, since they are pigments stains should hold up well. Most importantly, pick a stain that is compatible with you topcoat.

What goes on top is a different story. Epifanes has been held as the gold standard for spar varnish and comes with a price to match. It comes in sheens other than gloss. Other true marine varnishes like Petit and Interlux will work well too. Expect to re-coat every two years.
 

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I've used Minwax stain quite a bit, but always indoors and none of the items get direct sunlight through windows. But I have heard it fades from light. Maybe mine has, but since it would be gradual over time I haven't noticed. I believe it is a combination of dyes and pigments. So if dyes fade as Quickstep said, I guess Minwax would be a problem on your door.

I know, not much help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The challenge that I'm aware of with stain outdoors is fading from the sun. I know dyes fade, but to my knowledge, since they are pigments stains should hold up well. Most importantly, pick a stain that is compatible with you topcoat.

What goes on top is a different story. Epifanes has been held as the gold standard for spar varnish and comes with a price to match. It comes in sheens other than gloss. Other true marine varnishes like Petit and Interlux will work well too. Expect to re-coat every two years.
Thanks for the response. So are you saying that using dyes would be better than stains? I have thought about Epifanes but locally they only have gloss.
 

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Thanks for the response. So are you saying that using dyes would be better than stains? I have thought about Epifanes but locally they only have gloss.
Anything you use will fade eventually, but in my opinion, the stain is the better choice. In my experience, the darker minwax stains are mostly pigment and I think they’ll work well with mahogany since the grain of the mahogany gives the pigment a good place to get lodged into.

One of the benefits of good varnish is that they usually have UV filters that will protect the stain color.

Jamestown Distributors sells Epifanes Satin online. West Marine Carries Epifanes as well as Pettit Captain’s varnish which is decent stuff too. If they don’t have it in the store they can order it in.

I think most of us woodworkers associate polyurethane with durability but that’s generally not the case outdoors. UV seems to break down poly quickly leaving a peeling mess.

Hopefully John Smith will chime in. He’s an expert in these things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Anything you use will fade eventually, but in my opinion, the stain is the better choice. In my experience, the darker minwax stains are mostly pigment and I think they’ll work well with mahogany since the grain of the mahogany gives the pigment a good place to get lodged into.

One of the benefits of good varnish is that they usually have UV filters that will protect the stain color.

Jamestown Distributors sells Epifanes Satin online. West Marine Carries Epifanes as well as Pettit Captain’s varnish which is decent stuff too. If they don’t have it in the store they can order it in.

I think most of us woodworkers associate polyurethane with durability but that’s generally not the case outdoors. UV seems to break down poly quickly leaving a peeling mess.

Hopefully John Smith will chime in. He’s an expert in these things.
I do have a West Marine locally. I can check to see if they can order a different Sheen if it's available and maybe combine it with gloss so that I get a semi-gloss finish.

A local woodworker friend of mine swears by a product made by woodkote called Ultra Flagship UV450. It is labeled a polyurethane for Exteriors but speaking with the sales person they told me that it would technically be considered a spar varnish since they are basically polyurethanes with UV protection. He also told me that it is not as watered down as other competing polyurethanes as it has a VOC of 450.. my friend offered to give me what he has left from his stock but I definitely need more feedback before I decide on that which is why I'm here. I would also welcome to hear from John Smith if he sees this thread. Thank you for all of your advice.
 

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Minwax stain is more of a dye than a wood stain. It isn't colorfast enough for a exterior application especially if the color is red. I've never used Duraseal stain so I can't comment on how well it would work.
 

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I saw an exterior mahogany door colored and finished by one of my flooring subs, where he used the same Duraseal QuickCoat on the exterior door face as he did on the floors, followed by finish coating with the same interior oil poly (PoloPlaz Primero), and after a few years it lost 50% of its color in comparison to the floor. The door was on the west elevation under a covered porch set back a good 15 ft from the overhanging roof.

You might want to look into MLC’s Woodsong II stains or General Finishes exterior stains.
 

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The following is one of 147 exterior mahogany doors and windows which I colored with a WD Lockwood oil soluble aniline dye powder which was incorporated into thinned out polymerized tung oil sealer. The door unit received full sun on a south exposure for 14 years after initially being placed into service, yet experienced negligible to almost no color fade after 14 years (The pic was taken 14 years after being dye-stained). The UV inhibitors & absorbers in the varnish did a great job at inhibiting color fade.

As I’m certain you already know, oil soluble anilines are the most prone to color fading in all the aniline dye families. The varnish also held up exceedingly well due to receiving a bi-annual varnish maintenance coat.

The finish in the pic looks a little punky being it’s the original film & color with 13 years of maintenance coatings to restore and maintain the film thickness to compensate for UV erosion.

Image.jpeg







Minwax stain is more of a dye than a wood stain. It isn't colorfast enough for a exterior application especially if the color is red. I've never used Duraseal stain so I can't comment on how well it would work.
 

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I need some advice on staining a mahogany door that I will be installing in my house. It's an exterior door that faces West, however it never gets any direct sunlight due to some large pine trees. I have experimented with a couple of Minwax Stains and was fairly happy with the dark mahogany or espresso colors. I was all set to use it before a friend of mine warned me that it was only intended to be used on Interiors. I was curious if anybody had any thoughts on this and could give me more information or advice on what to do since I am dead set on achieving this dark brown finish on my exterior door and trim. It's really confusing trying to find a stain that will work and it makes me wonder how they did it a hundred years ago. I was also looking at their duraseal line of stains that were designed for hardwood floors. I have successfully used it on my staircase and railing and it looks great. Not sure why that can't be used on an exterior with the proper top coating either.

Also, if anybody has any suggestions on a top coat that won't peel or crack that would be helpful, as well. My friend warned me to stay away from Helsmann Spar and told me that I need to find something that will Flex with the movement of the wood. But unfortunately he couldn't give me any further advice. I don't want to go with a full gloss that you would normally find in a marine store. I'm looking for a finish between satin and semi-gloss. Thanks for your knowledge and advice ahead of time!

View attachment 439117
If you use a high quality spar varnish, such as Epiphanes or Sikkens, then you can use any method you wish, stain or dye. Fading will be minimized by the UV blockers in the topcoat. With Mahogany, we always used Mohawk grain filler, in mahogany to fill the grain. You can get different colors, or tint with universal tinting. Filling the grain seems to give a more natural color by tinting the pores and filling the pores gives a smoother topcoat. I would use gloss for the first few coats, the final coat can have the final sheen you are looking for.
 
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