Woodworking Talk banner
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

My front door needs refinishing so I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn a thing or two about woodworking.

Some information about the door:
  • I think it is solid wood, not fiberglass.
  • I think the homebuilders originally stained the door then applied some polyurethane.
  • The original stain and poly began to come off some years ago and my father (who is no handyman) put another coat of paint or stain on the door without sanding or stripping.
  • Now everything is starting the come off and the door looks like a mess.
I know I need to remove all of the old stain, poly, and debris before restaining. I tried manual sanding using 80 grit sanding sponges and sandpaper and soon realized how time consuming it was. In addition, the door has a lot of details which would be difficult to sand by hand.

Here are some pictures of the door 1.5 years ago (when I first thought about refinishing it):
And this is the door after I sanded parts of the sidelight and the piece of wood near the ground (Did I sand too deep?):
So it seems chemical paint strippers are the way to go. I picked up some Citristrip and odorless mineral spirits from Home Depot and am ready to give it a shot.

Before I do so, I wanted to consult the forum regulars for stripping, staining, and varnishing advice. I have a can of Minwax stain and a can of Man-O-War Marine Spar Varnish (I was told this stuff holds up better than poly and my door gets direct sunlight).

Does the process go something like this?
  • Cover the door with paint stripper and let it sit for a few hours.
  • Remove the paint/stain that has come off using a putty knife.
  • Pour the mineral spirits on a piece of steel wool + brass brush and scrub the hard to reach places/details on the door.
  • Wait about 30 minutes, then sand the door with 80/100/120 grit sandpaper until it looks clean.
  • Apply a coat (or two) of the Minwax stain.
  • Wait up to a day, then apply the first coat of marine varnish.
  • Sand, then apply another coat. Repeat. Done.
Initial questions:
  • How many coats of stain should I apply?
  • How long after applying the stain should I wait to apply the first coat of marine varnish?
  • Should I sand the first coat of varnish? And how long do I have to wait to sand it?
  • How long do I have to wait to apply the second, third, fourth, etc. coats of varnish?
  • How do I know when to progress in sandpaper grit? (Eg. 80 to 100, 100 to 120)
  • How do I know when to stop sanding?
  • Is there anything else I should be aware of?
Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,647 Posts
I don't believe you will ever get the finish off with citristrip. I would use a methylene chloride remover such as Kleen Strip. Now having said that stripping wood isn't a winter sport. You really need temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees. It would be easier if you would take the door off and lay it flat on saw horses. Then about 1/4 of the door at a time brush a liberal coat of the remover on and keep it wet for 15 to 30 minutes and then take a broad knife and scrape as much of the finish off as you can. If it is a panel door or has moldings you could use a brass stripping brush in the detail areas. Then if you have a power washer that is less than 1500 psi you could rinse the residue off. If that isn't an option or you are stripping the door while on the house then clean the residue off with lacquer thinner frequently changing rags. Rinsing it with lacquer thinner doesn't get the door as clean but extra sanding should make up for it. It's best to only work on about a fourth of the door at a time because once you start scraping the finish off it will want to dry back on and you only have a short amount of time to get the residue rinsed off.

Once the finish has been stripped then putty and sand the door as though it was a new door. I would use an oil stain and only apply one coat. You apply the one coat on and immediately wipe off the excess. Any residue of the stain left on the door can cause adhesion problems with the new finish. The marine grade spar is a good idea and can be applied after the stain has dried overnight. I always sand after each coat. Depending on how thick the finish is would determine how much sanding you should do on the first coat. If the wood drinks up most of the first coat then barely sand it. The drying time between coats would vary depending on brand of spar you use. Some are good to sand and recoat after overnight drying and some take 4 days to a week. Usually if you can press your thumb onto the finish and it doesn't make a print then it is dry enough to sand and recoat. The real test is sanding. If the finish gums up on the sandpaper more drying time is needed.

The 80 to 120 grit sandpaper may be alright for sanding the wood if it is a hardwood like ash or oak but if it is a softer wood you might want to sand to at least 180 grit. Sanding between coats of finish I normally use 220 grit. It's difficult to describe when to quit sanding the wood. If it is a solid wood door it would probably be best to keep sanding until it is uniform in appearance. If the finish has been off the door for some time there will probably be dark blotches here and there. Try to sand as much of these off as possible. Sometimes though these spots are too deep into the wood to do this. It might be necessary to use bleach to make the door more uniform in color. When sanding between coats of finish all you are trying to do is make it smooth. If it is smooth to the touch that is all that is needed. Just don't try to sand it all the way smooth on the first coat or you might sand through to the wood taking the stain off. When finishing be sure to coat the top and bottom of the door also.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the tips, Steve.

I decided to give CitriStrip a go anyways. I applied a coat to the lower portion of the left sidelight.

Left it on for ~2 hours, then started to scrape away residue with a paint scraper and brass brush. It got dark after that, so I wasn't able to do much more. The directions on the bottle say to rub stubborn spots with a rag and mineral spirits, but I haven't gotten around to this yet.

Here is the door currently (what is below the green line in picture 2 is the area that was hit with CitriStrip, while the area between the blue lines is where I attempted to sand a few weeks ago):
Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 4

Should I hit it with another coat of CitriStrip? Switch to KleanStrip? I'm not sure what the bare wood is supposed to look like. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,647 Posts
Personally I think you are wasting your time with the Citristrip. It may eventually get most of the finish off but at a high cost of elbow grease. I think you would be happier using a methylene chloride type remover like the Kleen Strip. I also think the Kleen Strip remover will clean it better too. I've refinished dozens of doors with that type remover but I only do it in warm or hot weather. The trim to the right side of picture 3 has about 80% of the finish off. The remover should strip a little cleaner than that. After all whatever is left will need to be sanded off and I don't think you want that. Normally I can strip a door, sand it, stain it and put a coat of varnish on it in a 8 to 10 hour day. Then the next day I sand the first coat smooth with 220 grit paper and apply another coat of varnish and I'm done.

The Kleen Strip is a lot messier though. I normally put down a plastic drop cloth and then cover that with cardboard or multiple layers of newspaper. When you start scraping the remover a lot of it drips so the paper will catch what does.
 

·
Rick Mosher
Joined
·
1,010 Posts
Like Steve says you picked the wrong time of year to do this.:icon_smile:

If I had to do this job I would remove the doors and replace with plywood temporary doors. You need to epoxy the bottom and top of the doors to prevent water from soaking into the end grain and ruining the finish again.

You may never get all of the color out of the grain of that oak so I hope you are staining the doors a dark color again, if so then you don't need to get it all out. You may also consider using a card scraper to get the finish off in the corners, it works really well on solid wood.

You may also consider building an overhang over your doors to minimize the direct sun exposure, no finish will hold up long in direct sun, even paint will fade and check.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the input, Rick and Steve.

I live in Southern California and temperatures have been hovering in the high 70s this week, so I think I am okay :icon_smile:.

I'll pick up some Klean Strip later today -- I was trying to avoid MC based stripper but I guess I don't have much of a choice.

I will indeed be staining a dark color (Minwax Red Mahogany). How much of the existing color should I try to get out?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,160 Posts
I agree with Steve. CitriStrip is a very poor paint and finish remover. It works very slowly and will not remove the finish that has been absorbed into the wood. It you plan to re-stain the door as part of your rehab, you must remove all the prior finish from the door. Leaving any residue will cause uneven coloring when you apply a new stain.

As already suggested, use a chemical paint stripper that contains methylene chloride. Follow the directions on the label. It will save you lots of time and you will end up with a much better job.

Let me also suggest that you remove the doors and all its hardware to facilitate the job. Get some sheet plastic and tape it to the doorway while you door in being worked on. It's a lot easier to work on the door if it is sitting on some sawhorses. You don't say where you live but you also want to work in an area that is warm enough. Finishing requires temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,647 Posts
With staining the door with the dark mahogany stain it's not a matter of how much of the old color to get out but to make it a uniform color. Often a person will take an electric sander and completely remove all the old color of the flat open areas then find out it's hard to make the job look nice because the inside corners and trim stain different. It's better to sand the hard to reach places first and then sand the open areas to match. Most of the damage and the reason for the refinish is in the finish and not the wood so when you strip the old finish off it removes most of the problems too.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top