Staining a textured fiberglass door

avesmorJuly 2, 2012

Hope this is the right forum! (I'm usually on the decor forums)

We have a fiberglass front door textured with a wood grain pattern. It is under a covered porch, with no storm door.

The door is about 2 years old. It was originally finished with a liquid stain. Our builder thought (incorrectly) we'd want it done with the same stain as our interior cabinets, which was much, much lighter than we actually wanted. We've never been happy with it and would like to re-stain it a darker color or paint over it. The liquid stain was never finished with top coat. Whether we paint or stain, we will be going with a much darker color (paint will probably be black, stain would be as close to a dark chocolate color as we could get).

What would you advise we do in terms of prep work? I've read that since it never had poly applied, we can just paint/stain without any prep (other than wiping it down with mineral spirits, and of course removing hardware and masking off glass). True?

I've also read that if we go the stain route, use a professional gel stain such as Old Master's, apply with a high quality brush, and then dry brush the excess stain off (wiping brush on rag between). Is there a better method? It's hard to find consistency in technique.

The guy who originally stained the door left two runs behind (where wet stain ran, and then dried). How do we get rid of those? Sand it down? Paint thinner?

Total novices with fiberglass doors, though I have a fair bit of interior painting experience.


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My only gel stain experience is with Minwax. Some thick spots I could wipe down with mineral spirits, some needed sanding (and generally that means you're not just getting the run anymore, you're doing the whole area...thankfully, gel stain is designed to even out blotchiness).

With Minwax gel stain on a non-permeable surface (ie: fiberglass doors and pre-finished furniture), you just scuff sand or degloss and brush on the stain. If you wipe afterwards, you wipe the stain right off. So essentially, you're painting on the stain. I wouldn't think Old Masters would be much different in that respect.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:20PM
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Paint thinner might not be strong enough to remove stain drips; may need to use something stronger like lacquer thinner. Masking off glass when working with stain isn't really effective because the stain is so loose, it just gets behind the tape easily and dries there. It's better IMO to just wipe the stain off the glass with a clean rag. I prefer to use heavy bodied stains on these types of doors instead of the gel stains but many people do have success with the gels. You probably don't need to do anything to prep the door except clean it, but if you are using a light color, the color that is on the door already may push through and screw up the look you are going after. As far as painting projects go, this is one of the hardest to do and have it come out great looking like real wood. Most painters I know even are not that great at doing them. You can do a panel though and wipe the stain off and try again until you figure out the technique. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 12:45AM
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Whatever you do, do not use Gel stain on your fiberglass door even though everyone will tell you to do that. I did it, it looked great for awhile but ultimately if failed badly. Use a product I found from Sikkens, Cetol Door and Window stain. It is different in that no varnish is used over top. My neighbor did his door with it after his gel stain/varnished door, like mine, chipped and faded badly. Four years later, his door looks fabulous.

My Pella fiberglass door's gel stained finish failed to the extent that I had to varnish it every six months as it would chip a bit. Then, after 6 years the chipping got so bad it pulled the gel stain off which is not repairable without stripping the door.

Fortunately (?) my door delaminated at this time so Pella brought me a new slab under warranty which I stained with Sikkens. It looks fabulous! And judging from my neighbor's door, it should hold up fine since unlike gel stain and spar varnish, the Sikkens product is intended for fiberglass doors. Check it out.

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

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 4:31PM
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