Refinish old solid wood doors or install new hollow doors

lalitharJuly 11, 2011


This is a x-post with remodeling as I was advised that the woodworking forum may be a better fit. Hope you guys can guide me.

We are remodeling a house built in 1940s which has all hardwood doors that are very thick (I am not sure what kind of wood but an older neighbor says they are redwood). The doors are solid but have a kind of rough finish and are quite dark. I feel we should refinish them (maybe sand and polish them) but DH thinks that it would be simpler to just install new mid-range interior doors. Any advice? Has anyone done this? Our DIY skills do not extend to this project and we would likely need to hire someone to do it. Any tips on how to find such a person and what equipment they would need to do this economically?

Here is a link that might be useful: Here is a link that might be useful: Should I refinish these old wood doors?

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The doors appear to me to be very rustic. What look are to trying to obtain in your house?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 7:59PM
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The good thing about existing doors is that they are hung and fitted to your openings. If you look up how to install new doors, it's no picnic. With the existing doors, all you really need here is a bit of sanding, or you could paint them as is if you want to stay with the rustic look. A satin or semi-gloss paint would make a feature of the uneven surface if you left it that way. You'd want to sand a bit after the first coat, I think, but just to smooth down the loose fibres.

Are you doing any work at all yourselves? If so, then I would suggest it might be worth your time to learn the skills and acquire the tools needed to do this job - it wouldn't be rocket science. You'd need a sander (by hand would be possible too), some dust masks, and maybe some sawhorses for setting up the workspace outside.

The wood is actually quite beautiful, and the tone quite warm and pleasant, not dark in a bad way. But in certain types of rooms I can see you'd want them lighter.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 10:15PM
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Our house is a california Mission style ranch house built with Adobe bricks. The gorgeous example to think of is the house from the movie "It's complicated". Think warm white washed adobe bricks (you can see the texture), red tiles, terracotta floors, massive redwood mantle, exposed beams. We are remodeling to improve the functionality of the layout.

With the doors, there are too many and I know our time and skills will not allows us to take this on. I would love to find someone in SF bay area with the tools and show them an example project pics..

Karin1 --> The location of the doors are changing.. so they have to be re-hung afterall. I am not able to quite visualize the satin/ semi-gloss look..

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 11:20PM
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I think the doors match the character of the house, don't think I would go with a hollow core door.

I would look at new door hardware to make the doors more distinctive, and possibly a new trim mouldings.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 12:17AM
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The only way to smooth them nicely would be to pass them thru a thickness sander. You'd still be stuck with the vee grooves and have a door that was at least 3/16 thinner, so it would change the way the door closed. But, you could then cover it over with a "door skin" (sheet of 3/16" plywood) to give a truly seamless face.
You know, they contain a fortune in clear redwood. The price of it has just skyrocketed in the last 10 years. I'd really leave them be, or sell them for the lumber.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 7:39PM
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OH please oh PLEASE keep those doors. I have hollow doors and they are the worst! They feel and look cheap and I doubt you could find a new door that fits the character of your home. It may be possible to sand it down to a smoother finish.

Sloyd's suggestion is also a good one.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 7:58PM
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