How can I make a very old interior door look better?

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My rental house has two very old bedroom doors that are an odd size (70-71") so not easily replaced. Probably about 100 years old with many layers of toxic paint I don't wish to sand down. What can I do to make them look not quite so bad?

  4 answers
  • You can use a chemical stripper to peel off all those old layers of paint and start over. There are some good ones out there that are more environmentally friendly. Be sure to wear protective gear though since you're not sure the types of paint on there.

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    • Stripping is a different process than sanding, there's no dust.


      It would have to be a solid wood door in order to do that but you certainly can. Be sure to pay attention to any decorative elements on the door as trimming it may affect its appearance.

  • Lynn Lynn on Aug 03, 2018

    Sounds to me apart from replacing is just to paint them again. Chalk paints are easy to work with as they go over everything. You don't want to have sand anything first. Just wash them first to remove built up grime. Chalk paint has a surface that is very forgiving to uneven surfaces or built up layers.

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    • Lynn Lynn on Aug 03, 2018

      I use Farmhouse Paint brand chalk paint because you don't have to do anything to the surface apart from making sure its clean! And you don't have to wax after either as you do with some chalk paints. Plus they have a nice selection of colors if you want to add a pop of color or keep it neutral! a quart runs around $35 but I painted our entire set of bedroom furniture with one quart, and did our kitchen cabinets with two!

  • Brenda Brandt Deason Brenda Brandt Deason on Aug 03, 2018

    Hi Bev! I’m going to guess that those 100-year-old doors aren’t just a flat surface, either. Maybe you could tack fabric over the doors. Or sew a pocket from fabric with the opening on the side with hinges. You can find fabric in wide widths at www.fabric.com.

  • Zard Pocleeb Zard Pocleeb on Dec 02, 2020

    If you don’t want to use chemicals at all you can use a heat gun and scraper. Heat guns can be had for less than $25. When you finish this job it’ll be a nice tool to have for future projects.