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Thread: Checks/cracks at the stile of wooden exterior door

  1. #1
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    Checks/cracks at the stile of wooden exterior door

    I made this 42"x96"x2.25" Honduran Mahogany door 9 years ago:
    20230522_192320.jpg
    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....s-)&highlight=

    The stiles are stave core (from 1" thick Mahogany pieces I ripped and glued side ways) with 1/8" thick veneer glued. Door was glued-up with West system epoxy (true M&T). It was finished with General Finishes exterior 450 and I have scoff-sand-recoated it every 3 years. Was planning to do this year again when I noticed these.

    I noticed that the bottom of the stiles have a couple of cracks (it's not just the veneer, looks like one of the pieces of the core have also cracked).
    It's about 2-3 inch long. There is also a crack at the bottom of the bottom middle mullion.

    R-stile.jpgL-stile.jpgmullion.jpg
    We are in Alberta and have very cold/dry winters. My guess is the bottom of the door wasn't finished properly (I finished the door after hanging and couldn't get enough top coat at the bottom).

    I want to prevent further cracking and need advice. My thinking is to remove the door, try to fill the cracks with epoxy as well as try to have thin layer of epoxy at the bottom/top of the stiles to properly seal.
    Does this sound good? Should I be doing anything else?
    Last edited by mreza Salav; 05-22-2023 at 9:25 PM.

  2. #2
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    What direction does the door face? North, South, East, West?

    My thoughts are that if the door faces South - facing the Sun - during bitter cold Winter days - being a rather dark color, there is a considerable amount of thermal shock --plenty enough to cause that. I've seen a lot of it here in NE Ohio over the years.

    It's something we always tried to warn people about when they wanted darker colors for exterior use.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  3. #3
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    What I see is an amazing success story. Exterior wood takes a beating. I steer people away from wood for exterior. Very few commercially produced wood doors will hold up as well as yours has. As far as how to prevent it getting worse, I do not know other than move it inside.
    Missouri, Where the Walnut trees grow straight, tall, and gigantic. Therefore, it's not that bad.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  4. #4
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    It is facing east and tthere is a 5-6 feet covered porch.

    Is using a flexible sealant to cover the end grain of stiles a better option than epoxy?

  5. #5
    Yes. You could also put a moulded piece across extending an inch or more. Years ago I made some . Iím sure you can photos of such
    things. To seal off driving rain get a piece of that vinyl cove stuff for the bottom , comes in lots of colors.

  6. #6
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    Adding a thicker coating on the bottom is definitely needed. I don't have an opinion which of the two choices is better. The first time I was asked to put a sink in a solid wood countertop, I brushed on silicone caulk on the wood. Luckily they chose a flange mount. I would recommend not tacking on some kind of vinyl or silicone weatherstripping across and covering the bottom of the door. That just provides a seam that water can wick into and no air movement to dry the bottom of the door. Trapping water rots wood.

  7. #7
    Richard , they have been using seals on USA space craft. Seals are necessary, only one failed .

  8. #8
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    Fabulous looking work. Maintained exactly how it should be.
    My hat's off to you for that. Usually you don't see that type of pride, except for the owners of the old Lyman and Chris Craft wooden boats.

    East facing, overhang, pretty much rules out anything thermal. Moisture is probably the culprit.
    Yes - a good coat of epoxy thinned to sink in should help.

    I'd avoid anything with Silicone in it since that could make any future coats of anything not be able to adhere.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  9. #9
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    Thanks Rich. My earlier post got deleted by mistake:

    So tipping the door upside down and letting thin epoxy sink into the ends would be a good idea I suppose.
    Rain doesn't get to the door but I have seen blown snow get there and sure it can melt and get behind the door sweep and to the bottom of the door.
    I'll make a piece that works better at keeping water from getting behind the door sweep.

  10. #10
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    I would mill the door bottom to accept edge-banding that sets into a wide rabbet. This would be epoxied in place as well as completely saturated with epoxy (as the door should have been, prior to applying any finish) and hidden by the metal strip.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    Richard , they have been using seals on USA space craft. Seals are necessary, only one failed .
    What does space craft have to do with a wood door? I'm certain space craft won't crack and rot from water.

  12. #12
    Looks like the material on the bottom of the door has gaps that hold water, and possibly leave the water no path but to exit thru the
    narrow space. The wood piece I recommended makes the water exit farther from the door, keeping the bottom of the door dry.

  13. #13
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    Merza - yeah, if you can get by for a few days while the materials cure, taking the door off so you can really get a good amount of epoxy on the bottom can only help.

    Are the sidelights ok?

    As an aside - I remember when you built that place and how much I admired your ambition & the job you did on all the doors. I can't believe it's been almost 10 years!
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mreza Salav View Post
    So tipping the door upside down and letting thin epoxy sink into the ends would be a good idea I suppose.
    I have a nagging suspicion that this might cause moisture to be trapped inside. Moisture won't stay entrapped - it will out, one way or another. So I'm wondering whether the door will need to be dismounted [unhinged?] as set in a controlled environment for a while to allow the moisture to exit. Then seal the bottom end grain.
    Beginning woodworker and amateur, proudly specializing in overly ornate, busy, ridiculously over-decorated, and garnished to the point of distaste details

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Engelhardt View Post
    Merza - yeah, if you can get by for a few days while the materials cure, taking the door off so you can really get a good amount of epoxy on the bottom can only help.

    Are the sidelights ok?

    As an aside - I remember when you built that place and how much I admired your ambition & the job you did on all the doors. I can't believe it's been almost 10 years!
    My plan is to do this in one day: remove the door, tip upside down, tape around the bottom, then inject thin epoxy into cracks and make a very shallow pool of epoxy (west system) at the bottom of stiles, let cure for a couple of hours, tip it again, do the same for the top. Then put the door back on without the door sweep. I'll install the door sweep next day.
    I tried to be meticulous during the construction of the door as well as in maintaining it over the years. I should have had done this when I made it but I was a first timer!

    Yeah, it's almost 10 years when I did all the work on those doors and railing, cabinets. I just finished the basement of the house, which included 12 more doors (built from scratch), cabinets, and home theater woodworking: https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....18#post3257918

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