High maintenance on stained wood front door is driving me crazy!

taliaferroAugust 6, 2006


I have a stained wood front entry door which is sheltered from rain, but not from the *sun*. Thus far, we have had to do a stain touch up & varnish every six months. We've used Marine Spar varnish. It has become such a chore. Are there any measures we could take to extend the maintenance requirements? Would waxing the door post-varnish make a difference? Is there a better product out there than spar varnish?

The door is about three and a half years old, and cost over $5000, so, although I'm tempted to do so, I can't get rid of it just yet...

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated:)

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Marine spar varnish is specifically formulated for maximum lifetime, exposed to sun and weather. I would expect it to last two years before needing maintenance. Maybe you would do better with another brand.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 10:16AM
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The correct application of the spar varnish is critical---as is the brand. The stuff in home improvement stores is not as good quality as that from paint dealers or specialty places. I use Sherwin Williamd spar varnish as a rule.

The first application is a light coat. Let that coat dry for 24 hours, lightly hand sand and wipe with a rag moistened in paint thinner to get off all the sanding dust. Then apply the second coat. Let dry 24 hours and repaet for a third coat.

You can tell when the finish is starting to fail when tiny cracks---called crazing----begin to form and widen. This condition is usually seen in a close inspection.

To recoat, sand off the top layer with 150 or so grit sandpaper---a 1/4 sheet power sander is a good choice for this as it is n=ot aggressive. A random orbit sander is too aggressive for this job, IMHO. And belt sanders should never even be an option.

All you want to do is remove that top crazed layer. Then wipe off the sanding dust and apply a coat of finish.

Unless you live in the Southwest and the door gets full sun all day, that technique should afford at least two years per use.

Oh, one other thing, spar varnish has a definate shelf live span---it should not be used after sitting more than 4 years.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 12:16PM
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Thank you so much ericwi & handymac for your advice! I am printing this page to show my carpenter. My guess is that the first recoating wasn't done properly (one coat, not the recommended three!), hence the reduced life span of the newly refinished door. I remember one year we used McClosky's marine spar varnish, and then Sherwin Williams thereafter. We are in Pennsylvania, and that door only gets afternoon sun, which is why I didn't anticipate a stained wood entry door would be so high maintencance.

Thanks again:) :)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 1:39PM
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We have the same situation....after the last complete restoration...we have had a shade that blocks the sun and heat, but you can see through it. It sounds hoky. The shade is hidden fron the street when rolled up and blends in with the color of the house when down. We have had several folks come to our door asking us where we got it. My husband put a hook into his
drill and it rolls the shade up and down. Of course, you can do it manually. And the company offers motors, but they are pretty expensive.

We have these shades on the inside of our house (a little different grade of material) to help reduce heat and keep the light from ruining the furniture. Even tho our windows are double paned and tinted it wasn't enough. Our daughter in Scottsdale has these kind of shades and we loved them.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 11:24AM
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