Exterior wood doors can be a beautiful addition to your home--a tremendous step up in appeal and appearance from a typical steel or fiberglass door. But, along with the added beauty comes added maintenance. Fortunately, this maintenance doesn't need to be painful as long as you keep up on it!
A YEARLY THING...
The life of the finish on your exterior door is going to vary. It all depends on the conditions to which the door is continually exposed. If it's protected from the elements and the sun, it may last for 2-3 years or so. However, if it's exposed to rain and sun on a regular basis, you can probably expect that finish to last about a year.
CATCH IT EARLY...
The key to keeping the maintenance of your door to a bare minimum is to catch problems early. Catching problems early means that you just have to reapply a new layer of a protective varnish. However, if you leave the door too long and the finish fades off, bigger problems can result--problems that aren't as quick and easy to fix. So, to avoid that, inspect your door regularly and look for signs of finish failure. Look for a dulling or a whitish haze in the finish. Feel the door, looking for roughness or raised grain. Examine the door for surface checks. If you notice any of these things, you should consider a restoration of your finish.
NOW THE HARD PART (But Don't Worry, It's Easy)
Once you notice a problem on your door--a failing of the finish--the job at hand is to get a new protective coat on the surface. And while this may not sound like a fun project, have no fear: it's simple.
- Start with a light sanding over the entire door. Dull the surface up and be sure to fully remove any loose or chipping areas in the finish.
- Wipe the door down with a rag dampened slightly with mineral spirits (paint thinner).
- Apply two coats of Sikkens Cetol Door and Window finish. (This is a UV resistant, high quality exterior wood finish. It's a little on the expensive side, but when it comes to a wood door, you've already made a huge investment . . . don't skimp on the protective coating!)
- Let the door dry the required amount of time and you're done . . . (at least for another year!)
The big thing with exterior wood doors is Preventative Maintenance. Catch the problems early and you'll have no problems getting the door back to it's original, beautiful condition!