View Full Version : Front Door Finish

Jim Young
05-13-2005, 12:38 PM
We are getting a new front door to the house. It is made of douglas fir and I need to put a finish on it. The door is west facing and will get a little sun late in the afternoon. Would shellac hold up? Any suggestions?

Mike Vermeil
05-13-2005, 1:19 PM

Here's two options.

If you don't mind periodically replenishing the finish, and if the door is not going to receive direct moisture, you can go with an oil finish. The benefit of this is that you'll never have to strip later on, which no matter what you use, you'll eventually have to do. It'll look great also.

If it will receive direct moisture, I'd go with an oil-based spar urethane varnish or one of the newer, high-tech marine finishes. The marine finishes are obviously more expensive, but will last longer. I don't know much about them, but I'm sure others on here do.

Cecil Arnold
05-13-2005, 9:02 PM
I agree with the marine finish as we have a really bad problem here in Texas with our doors (high heat and humidity) and that has proven to be the best surface protection I can find. I would not use poly, since it is my understanding that you will have to completely strip the door when you need to refinish in a few years. With the marine spar, you only need to sand and put on a couple of fresh coats. Shellac, is not generally used where it will be exposed to water.

Harry Goodwin
05-13-2005, 9:47 PM
Jim: My son's standard advice for doors is include finishing the bottom of the door and probably the top as well or it will swell and lead to further difficulties. Most commercial doors will void the warrenty without finish on bottom. Harry

John Hart
05-13-2005, 11:05 PM
Hi Jim,

I listen to a Do it Yourselfer Helper guy on the radio every saturday and this question comes up a lot. Generally, he says that you should final coat it with some form of finish that contains UV protection. This will give you the most life.

Kelly C. Hanna
05-13-2005, 11:07 PM
I use Spar Urethane on every door I do. Lasts quite a long time in the sun versus anything else I've tried.

Jim Becker
05-14-2005, 10:44 AM
Consider exterior oil-based paint tint base...it dries clear and is designed to be used in the weather. It doesn't degrade like varnishes, especially those with urethane (which hates UV), and weathers well. Jim Kull, the former moderator of the WOOD Online finishing forum, posted this suggestion many times over the years.

Ellen Benkin
05-14-2005, 12:42 PM
I'll have to get my painter to give this a try, Jim. My front door is mahogany stained cherry and faces east. It gets sun blasted in the mornings and also gets rained on. I've been using spar varnish with UV protection, but it has to be refinished about every other year and the stain is definitely fading.

Advice to those doing doors inside or out -- cover all 6 sides with whatever finish you are using. Also, most painters I know advise working on the door while still hung because they get into all kinds of trouble unhanging and rehanging doors, especially if they are heavy (like my front door).