Refinishing entry doors-paint as clear finish

quandaryAugust 4, 2011

I am refinishing my double entry doors, replacing the glass and installing new handlesets.

I'd like to use paint as a clear finish, as recommended by bobsmyuncle in other threads. I discovered yesterday that my local paint store has closed. This leaves me with Lowes, Home Depot, Kelly-Moore or driving to another city, which I'm willing to do, if necessary.

Will any of these stores have good quality oil-based exterior paint?

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A word of caution. I got a can (quart) of deeptone base Gloss Oil House and Trim Ace (Hardware) Royal Shield. That was the only oil base that came in a quart that I could find. It was a cream color in the can and unfortunately, it dried a cream color instead of clear. Any paint store should open a can and apply the base to a paint stir that you can take home and let dry to see if it dries clear. I did that for a Pittsburgh Paint base and it was a greenish tinge when dry. I haven't found one that will dry clear yet.
I did add some dyes to the Ace base and painted a plant stand and it has held up in the Georgia sun for 3+ years so far. I think that if you can find a clear base, that will be the ticket. I am still looking.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 4:56PM
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That is my fear. I really like the idea of using paint for its properties and durability, but I need this project to go smoothly without any surprises or do-overs. Can anyone recommend an oil-based paint that dries clear or at least amber?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 6:15PM
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This article originated several years ago. Now, there are number of states, including mine, who have gone "Low-VOC" reformulations. Last time I was in Lowe's looking for Olympic #5 (their deep base), they don't carry it any more, as far as I could tell. Apparently, they decided with all the regulations, it would be simpler to just not carry oil-based paints.

You might try an independent paint store or one of the major chains like Sherwin-Williams. Or you can try contacting the web site where that article was posted. They used to carry a deep base in quarts and would ship it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: article

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 10:49PM
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Thanks. I sent an e-mail to I'll call Kelly-Moore tomorrow. I hope one of these pans out. I'd really like to try this.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 12:42AM
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BINGO! I received an e-mail response from with a link to an oil-based paint base. The product description recommends it for paint as a clear finish use and even cites the article. I called and spoke with Steve Mickley, a friend of the guy who did the control test with doors in his backyard. He wrote an article which expands the original one bobsmyuncle has linked on this forum. He was very helpful and encouraging.

My doors are pine and probably original to the 50-year-old house. He cautioned against sanding to remove the finish so as not to remove the patina. He said if I use a chemical stripper, the pine should take stain evenly without having to use a conditioner. Drats! It would have been easy to sand the finish off these doors, but I'm going to follow his advice.

My other problem is that we're consistently having temperatures of 108-110 degrees here. While miserable, I can sand when it's that hot, but the chemical stripper just bakes onto the finish. Moreover, the new finish shouldn't be applied in extreme heat either.

My hardware, glass and finish should all arrive next week. I'm going to hope for a cold front, so I can get this project done.

Here is a link that might be useful: oil-based paint base (as a clear finish)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 11:36AM
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A technique to keep the stripper wet (not drying out) while it works is to apply it (fairly heavy and without a lot of brushing back and forth), then cover with a sheet of plastic. I use the stuff in rolls and cut off what I need.

Strip in the shade.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 7:54PM
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I know Steve fairly well. He can be opinionated, or rather, "he does not suffer fools lightly." But his opinions are informed and real reasoned.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 8:00PM
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He must have been in a TGIF mood, because he suffered me lightly. He was pretty patient with my stupid questions (i.e. Do you shake or stir this product? and Do you sand between coats?).

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 9:01PM
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bobsmyuncle --
I assume I should use the paint as a clear finish on both the interior and exterior sides of the door -- correct?

When you mention rolls of plastic wrap, are you talking about something heavy duty, or would regular kitchen plastic wrap (i.e. saran wrap) do the trick?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 3:37PM
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You need some finish on both sides. If you have the paint base and need to to do the inside, go ahead. If you'd rather paint it white or something else to match your trim, likewise.

Saran wrap would work, it's just not very wide. The idea is to keep the volatiles from evaporating away before they have a chance to work.

I did not mean to imply that Steve was a grump. He is more than willing to help out the student who is interesting in learning. If you hold strongly to ill-informed positions, he will try to steer you to enlightenment.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 6:38PM
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