Paint vs. stain on exterior door question...

mitri89February 28, 2010

We want to have our new fiberglass wood grain look exterior door stained inside and out. Our builder said we would probably want to put up a storm door, since a stained finish doesn't hold up to the elements like painted. Is this true? The door faces the west but is under a 12 1/2' ft deep covered porch. Thanks!

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Will a door facing west under a 12 foot porch ever get hit with direct sunlight? If not, then stain it. The only thing that will degrade the finish on the door is the sun. There are also issues with adding a storm door when there is direct sunlight involved because the sun coming through that glass can have a sort of magnifying effect which could degrade the door even quicker than if you just left it unprotected in the elements. Ever opened someones storm door and touched the front door on a sunny day? You can burn your hand.

Also, something builders never tell you is that you should maintain the door. The finish on the door is there to protect the stain layer. Don't let that finish wear away. More direct sunlight will wear that finish layer off faster. If no sunlight hits the door, you can probably get away with doing a coat or two of finish every 5 years. But, if the door gets direct sun, I recommend two coats each year. Once the sun wears off that finish and starts to degrade the stain layer, you will very quickly be put in the position where stripping the door is your only option. Don't let that happen!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 3:39PM
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Thank you paintguy. I appreciate your insight and will pass along the information to my husband.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 12:10AM
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Paintguy: Can I get your advice on a similar question? We live in Arizona, have a 5 year old home with a south facing front door which fiberglass (I believe it's not steel and not wood, so it must be fiberglass). We don't do storm doors in this area, so this has been exposed to sun. I want to spruce up the outside of the door to get it to look as good as the inside; the stain is faded and it needs a sealer of some sort. Can you tell me exactly which product(s) to look for? I'd attach a photo, but I'm not sure how to do that on this forum. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 6:11PM
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I would recommend Sikkens Cetol Door and Window in satin. If you can't find that, then some Minwax Helmsman Marine Varnish (may also be called Spar Urethane) would work. Two coats minimum, I would do three. By the way, a storm door would probably degrade the door faster because the glass would magnify the sun so it's good that you don't have one.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 6:27PM
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nlion last question: would that give a glossy finish? We want more of a satin type finish.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 9:11PM
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Yes, I said Cetol Door and Window in satin. It also comes in gloss. I prefer the satin too.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 9:25PM
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PG's advice is HUGE here....

STAY AHEAD of the Sun's degradation with yearly (maybe every-other) maintenance coat(s) of a Spar-Varnish/Poly.

* At our store, Sikkens Door & Window is our 1st choice for customers.
* 2nd choice is ZAR's Exterior Poly's.
* I'd consider a storm-door though...the more crap you can keep off your main door, the better.
* Consider a style that has a lower-screen panel insert. Ours is a detachable glass main panel, that has a screened-frame-panel for summer use, when I take out the glass panel. This is the upper 85% of the screen-door.
* It's also got a 6"x2' lower glass panel-insert that I remove in the summer.
* With a door like this, you could have a glass-panel for the upper main portion, and have the bottom rectangle as your vented/screened area; or, just use both screen-panels.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 12:58AM
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PaintGuy and Faron,
I have some farm buildings (large barn, etc) with peeling paint. After good prep, what would you use? Thought a stain might be easier long term & was thinking either SW Woodscapes exterior stain or Zar exterior stain. Is this the way to go? and if so, which is better--the SW or Zar (or something else?)
Many thanks.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 1:13AM
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Sikkens Solid-Oil Siding-finish is a good one. It's been discontinued however...
in favor of the "Greener" Oil/Latex Hybrid called "Rubbol Siding Finish". Don't be scared of this's very good!
>>> See Sikkens link below...

There may be some of the Solid-Oil in the pipeline yet. We still have some anyway!


Here is a link that might be useful: Sikkens Rubbol Siding link....

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 1:30AM
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The oils are a dying breed. I can't get Fresh Start oil based primer or C2's oil based primer in anything but quarts from my supplier here in Illinois. If I had a barn to prep/paint, I think I would be in trouble because I would need to use CoverStain as my primer which isn't the best unless I wanted to buy 50 quarts. It is true that a 100 percent acrlyic stain would probably be best for a barn because it will not peel like a paint. The Rubbol is good, and I also like C2's stain, BM's Super Spec stain and my favorite is probably Maxum 2 by Coronado. I have never used Woodscapes except for the semi, but I'm sure it is comparable if it is their premium stain and it is 100 percent acrylic.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 8:02AM
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Paintguy: help! We're using Spar Urethane (satin) as you mentioned...the first coat went on fine, but what are the gummy little bits showing up when we're applying the second coat? It said to wait 4 hours to apply the second coat and we may have rushed that a bit, but the door felt dry, so we went ahead. We've stopped the job, so it's not too much of a mess---yet.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 3:09PM
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Yep, it sounds like the first coat was not dry. Also, do not apply the product in direct sunlight and work in sections so that you are not pulling at areas that have already started to set. I usually let each coat dry overnight.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 4:14PM
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Thanks! Will let dry overnight and try again in the a.m. when it's still cool outside. It may take us three days to get three coats on the door, but it will probably be worth it.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 6:06PM
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Paintguy and Faron - you two are such a valuable resource - you've helped me as a lurker more times than you know!

I just have a quick follow-up question on this. I have a stained fiberglass door that was just installed last year. It is under a covered porch, but the very bottom of the door does get some direct sun in the mornings.

Last week I put two coats of the sealer on it from Therma-Tru that came with the door.

Are the products that you are recommending better than the stuff from Therma-Tru?

And, are more coats of sealer better? Putting on a few coats every year isn't a big deal to me...but I don't know how much is too much?

The door looks great right now - the sealer really did enhance the look - and I want to keep it looking good.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 11:52AM
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Thanks for your kind note!

Since your door has little sun, a "maintenance coat or 2" may only be necessary every 3rd or 4th year.

If ya want some top-notch stuff, check out the FPE varnishes!


Here is a link that might be useful: FPE Varnishes...

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 12:11PM
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I don't know about the durability of the stuff that comes with the Therma Tru kits. I have heard good things, but I am still leery of using a water based finish outside. That's why I still go with Sikkens.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:58PM
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Thanks so much to both of you for the response.

Because of Faron, I understand a little bit more about color choices...and because of PaintGuy, I can almost paint a passable straight line at my wall-ceiling juncture.

So as someone who usually just lurks, I needed to say thank you!!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 9:24AM
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Paintguy is right. Here's my story.

Too late to help now but maybe someone else will benefit. I gel stained my Pella fiberglass entry door 6.5 years ago and it looked great! Used Minwax gel stain and their spar varnish, as directed by Pella. However, it did not stand up to weather at all. It chipped and had to be varnished again every 6 months. This Spring it chipped all the way through to the fiberglass and pulled stain with it! Believe me, I did everything properly. My door faces south east and has no roof. But a neighbor whose fiberglass door faces north had the same trouble - he used the same products as I.
My neighbor got disgusted and stripped his down to fiberglass and restained it with Sikkens products 3 years ago. No trouble since. Sikkens makes a Door and Window stain that does not require varnish over top.
Fortunately for me, just before I started stripping about 36 layers of varnish off my door, it delaminated! Pella brought me a new unfinished slab (under warranty) and I'm using Sikkens to stain it.

I've been told the varnish is the trouble. It's like putting a sheet of glass against the door, trapping the heat. Plus it isn't flexible enough to expand and contract. If I put up a storm door to protect it, the problem would've been worse due to trapped heat. Sikkens is specifically made for fiberglass doors. I don't have any vested interests in the company but thought I'd try to help the next guy...

Here is a link that might be useful: Sikkens Door and Window stain

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 11:14AM
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