Asked on Jan 31, 2012

Cleaning outside wooden doors prior to refinishing...

Opus Focus, LLCHarold MDan's of Central Florida, Inc.


I am debating wheter or not I should use a TSP + bleach mixture OR denatured alcohol to wash down damaged wooden doors exposed to the sun. I'll sand first but wood is "dead" at bottom panels and I am concerned that the mixture might darken wood.
Also, do you think Tung OIl will revive the doors or should I stick to gel stains or regular outside graded stains? I might use a Helsman Spar Urethane or some other marine varnish with UV protection (Sikkens, FX C500, etc.) afterwards but will of course proceed with compatible products during the process - water based or oil from start to finish.
8 answers
  • Sounds like you have a good idea of what you are doing. Personally I wipe them down with mineral spirits after sanding and allow ample time for the spirits to dry. It won't (or should not) change the color of the door or the "dead" wood. I've tried the gel stains and do not like them myself, guess I'm old fashioned like that. Sikkens is a great product.

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Feb 1, 2012

    Here are some application guideline for the Sikkens Cetol door and wind product... your pretty much there in your thought path.

  • Opus Focus, LLC
    on Feb 2, 2012

    Very comforting to hear, THANKS. I will try mineral spirits as well. I do have few other questions or concerns, though: If I decide to use my Stain & Seal Faux Effects stains (are you familiar with this water-based product?), could I used the water-based oil-modified (oxymoron!) Helmsman Spar?? I am not sure it is OK for exterior applications... I hear, S&S is not always so great for exterior unless you build the color to a deeper tone (fading issues)... I have always used their product followed with the compatible color seal, followed by two coats of C-500 UV marine grade varnish. Seems to work, but these doors are a bit different then what I am used to, because now I am refinishing and not starting from scratch... Who knows what is on that surface now? See pictures attached. Should I stick to the regular (old-fashioned is always safe ;-) Minwax stain and then use the oil based Spar? The main issue is cost (as usual) and clients cannot fathom the amount of elbow grease it takes to properly prep a surface... One door is 11x9 and Mahogany, so it will fade regardless unless they keep up with UV protection maintenance. I think 3 to 4 visits should do the job but I really do not want to give it away for $600 bucks. There is lots of sanding, cleaning and "watch-paint-dry-time" involved so I'd like to bill at least $800+. Am I being unreasonable? The other door needs much more TLC and I would have to charge double since I might have to do some faux work if the wood does not accept the stain or darkens the wood too much... Hope you can be of further help. Thanks again.

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  • Opus Focus, LLC
    on Feb 2, 2012

    Thank you. Sikkens was one of my prime choice! Do you like their stains as well?

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Feb 2, 2012

    That last pic does look a bit nasty and yes...proper prep is the only way to do this...all of that old finish will need to be removed...either by sanding or striping. As far as stains go, I almost always use minwax products...I have most of their colors hard-coded into my brain after 30 years of woodworking. Personally I like to use just clear finishes and let the natural beauty of the wood come through...but in restoration efforts like this stain will help even out the colors and provide a bit more protection. To throw an entirely new option at you...would be to use a penetrating oil finish like those used on hardwood decking. It penetrates into the wood so there is no worry about flaking and chipping finish. I have been using Penofin products for 15 years or so on my hardwood deck...It sees full sun exposure and has been going strong. Some minor touch up work every other year will keep it looking good...and the beauty is you will not need to sand or strip away the old failed finish.

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  • I do not think that you are being unreasonable in your price there at $800+.

  • Harold M
    on Feb 2, 2012

    Wood exterior doors, while pretty require alot of maintenance. If you let them go without taking care of them even for a short time, you can end up with a mess. I'm big on wood grain fiberglass doors. A little pricey, but in my opinion worth it. PS notice I said my opinion

  • Opus Focus, LLC
    on Feb 7, 2012

    Thank you for replying.

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