May 22, 2012

Re-finishing the front doors

I have been crazy busy this week.  Really, no time to blog!  One thing I've been working on is the front doors.  What a job this has turned out to be!
This is what the front doors looked like before.  I love the charm of the old doors and would really like to keep them but had a few issues to deal with (as always!).

First of all, we decided to widen the front entrance to put it more in line with the door above it (that goes to the front balcony).  This was a bit of a one-thing-leads-to-the-next sort of thing that was probably not worth the large closet that started it all.  A word to the wise -- never design on the fly!
But we will get a grander front entrance out of it with side lights and a transom.  And, if all goes well, the original doors will be put right back in the centre of it all.  Hopefully worth the headache.

I really had to strip off some old paint to give the screen door a decent finish.  It had 3 thick layers on it!
I began by using paint stripper which worked but was tedious.  It took off the paint one layer at a time with a lot of waiting and scraping in between.

Our contractor saw me doing this and offered his "fan".  It is really just a super hot hair dryer but it strips off all 3 layers of paint at once!  Way quicker!
Even though I did this outside on a breezy day, I would recommend a mask for anyone using one of these things.  The fumes were pretty strong. 

But afterwards it looked like this.

And after using a bit more paint stripper for the corners, it looked like this. 

I filled in some holes with wood filler, repaired a corner with wood glue, and gave it a coat of tinted primer.  Little bits from the oak tree above it kept falling on the paint which didn't make it any easier.

Then I gave it a coat of eggshell black paint by Benjamin Moore (along with my trusty side kick!).

And this is how it came out!  I love it!

The heavier main door needed some TLC as well.  First I stripped off the old finish with furniture stripper, a scraper and steel wool.

I unfortunately put it upright to store it for the night and noticed these chips to the veneer the next day.  So bummed!  Should have been more careful.  I figure I can put a kick plate on it later and hopefully no one will ever notice.

After one coat of Minwax Special Walnut stain, the dark section under the windows still looked terrible.

So I gave it a second coat and it came out much nicer.  Can hardly notice the stain anymore.

I've still got to put a coat of polyurethane on it and finish off the inside in the same black as the screen door.  Hopefully I'll get to that soon. 

I even stripped the paint off the hinges and knobs.  I love the weight of them and thought they'd be great to re-use as well.

In other house news, we're almost finished framing out the third floor and will then be ready for electrical.  I'll get some pictures up soon.


  1. Love what you did to the doors! Not sure if you have more hinges to strip, but letting you know the easiest method is to boil them in water with dish detergent for 15 to 20 mins. The paint will loosen up. Pull them out of the water and peel it off by hand.

    1. Thanks a lot for the tip! I did so much scrubbing with stripper and steel wool, it's hard to believe that boiling them with detergent will do the trick. I do have a few more to do and will definitely be trying your method.

  2. wow that is so much work! good luck with the hinges, the door looks fantastic!

  3. Hi Keira -- I remember putting that last coat of green paint on the screen door -- sorry!!

    you're doing a fabulous job...hope to stop in one of these days to see it in person!

    Jane Bennett

    1. It must be so weird for you to read this, Jane. Paul's favourite colour is green, so the girls were giving me a hard time for changing it. I do love the screen door especially. Just so much nicer than the newer metal ones.

    2. Hi -- It is kind of weird, especially something like that door. Putting the screens and storms in and out of the window in that door -- I am sure I did it twice a year for 30 years! But mostly now it is just fun to see how it is all coming together. I look forward to each instalment of the blog.

      You must be exhausted!!

      take care,

  4. I have just downloaded iStripper, and now I can watch the best virtual strippers on my taskbar.

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