Need help and advice to rescue and finish our front door!
I would really love some advice on staining our new front door which is a Simpson Venetia made of hemlock. We had the same front door at our previous home and loved it so much that we chose it again when we began our remodel last winter. Unfortunately, one of the subcontractors gouged the front door and of course no one would fess up. Our general contractor said he'd take care of it, but I've given up hope that he'll ever come through on that promise, so we need to get the door stained and finished before we go through another winter. Luckily the gouge is near the hinge and not too visible when the door is closed. I know that we shouldn't have let the door stay unfinished as long as we did, but we kept thinking that the contractor was going to take care of it. Since the door has now been through a whole year in it's unfinished state are we going to have problems? It's under a covered porch and is protected from rain, but obviously not from temberature. Now, the next issue: When I did the finish work on the door at our old house, I wanted the door to come out as perfectly as possible, so I sanded the wood really, really smooth with a 200 grit sandpaper which I now understand was a really bad idea and caused the pores of the wood to clog up. After my killer sanding job, I used a pre-conditioner that I was told would help keep the door from being blotchy and then I stained the door with a minwax stain. As you've probably guessed, the stain did not go on evenly (I'm assuming because of the sanding) and I ended up putting on lots and lots of coats trying to get it evened out. The door ended up very dark and needless to say I wasn't very pleased with my efforts. I want to make sure that I don't make the same mistakes (or any new ones) this time around and would love to get some advice before I get started. Any special treatment necessary because of the years worth of exposure? How much sanding should I do? Any tips on finishing hemlock to get the most even stain? Any recommendations for brands or types of stain and/or pre-conditioner? And finally, what should I do about the gouge in the door? Should I fill it and then stain the door, or stain the door and then fill it? Same advice on brands would be appreciated here. I know this is a really long post, but I would appreciate any advice and help that you can give. The door was a big splurge for us and when I walk in the front door everyday I don't want to regret having spent all that money on it! Thanks for any and all help you can offer.