New Coating/Sealing For Old Exterior Door?
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Neal Yonover



Joined: 04 May 2010
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:07 pm    Post subject: New Coating/Sealing For Old Exterior Door? Reply with quote

Greetings all!

This is a perennial topic, but I have a few quirks that I hope will make the question worthy of consideration again.

I have to resurface a really old, really heavy, wooden door (southern exposure). It's received "maintenance" over the years that included a light sanding and another layer of Home Depot polyurethane varnish or somesuch.

Now it's blistering and bubbling and I believe it's time to finally take it down to the wood, or wherever a good new start would be, and give it a solid weatherproof finish.

The challenge is that it's the building entry door for a multi-unit apartment building and the owner (a relative) is insisting on the door being out for no more than 12 hours (daylight) at a time.

I realize these will be fairly basic questions, but it's a really neat old door (and I'm sentimental) and I want to do it right.

My questions:

- What to do about a prep/finishing process that will certainly take more than 12 hours?

- What's the best way to get all the layers of previous gunk off? Will our good friend steam work here?

- Can anyone suggest a bulletproof finish that includes UV protection?

Thanks.

Neal



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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
Posts: 3005
Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neal,

There is no "bullet proof" finish. But, there IS ongoing tender loving care.

Here's the start of a good front door clear finish schedule. Ask questions and keep us posted with photos of your progress and we'll flesh out the details.

All this work could be done with the door left in place, but it will take more than one day. If the routine below doesn't make sense due to funding limitations (or any other reason), let me know why and I'll come up with a low-cost stabilization treatment, so the building owner can save up for the real deal later on.

From the photos it's hard to tell if it actually needs complete finish removal. If you know for sure polyurethane was used it probably should all come off because that stuff is UN-maintainable.

1. Remove all old finish down to bare wood, but don't damage the wood. Soften the finish with solvent-type or "eco"-type chemical stripper and scrape off the outer layers. A scrubbing pad on the inner layers (such as 3M Heavy Duty Stripping Tool) may help prevent damaging the wood.
-- 3M Heavy Duty Stripping Tool, for detail work, a reusable plastic handle with a 3-1/2" x 5" surface with Velcro-type hooks. The hooks hold a replaceable pad.
Source: (no longer made by 3M, but may still be available through eBay seller xtrahardware: http://tinyurl.com/8cdouc2)
-- 3M Heavy Duty Stripping Pads, 3-1/2" x 5", made to fit the stripping tool above
-- another source for a similar pad, smaller size, at lower cost: http://www.unoclean.com/3M-9650-Scotch-Brite-General-Purpose-Scrub-Pad-Green-80-3-in-x-4-1-2-in-Pads.aspx
I think I would grind a couple of custom profile scrapers for those mouldings:
http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2591#2591

2. If the color of the wood needs adjustment or evening-out make your own pigmented stain out of turpentine and artist's linseed oil paint with earth-pigments. Mixing colors is an art. One of the best door re-finishers I know (here in Portland) is also a fine artist (I have one of his original oil paintings hanging on my wall).

3. Apply two or three coats of McCloskey/Valspar Man-O-War Spar Varnish.

http://www.amazon.com/McCloskey-Valspar-Spar-Varnish-Gallon/product-reviews/B00176PIKS/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&linkCode=ur2&showViewpoints=1&tag=historichomew-20"

This varnish has UV inhibitors. Begin with a penetrating coat that is diluted 50/50 with turpentine. Sand very lightly after the first one or two coats with very fine sandpaper on a flat block (for the flat surfaces), and bronze wool for the mouldings. Dust and clean the surface with a tack-cloth before the next coat. A third coat may be needed. Follow the manufacturer's directions for timing the coats.

OK, if you treat this door like a door it will look great for a year, look good for another year, and then it will start to look like every other old door on the block. However, if you treat this door like a fine piece of furniture it will continue to look great year after year. Here's how to do that:

4. Wax. Allow the varnish finish to cure thoroughly for a week or two and use a mixture of 5% Butcher's Paste Wax and 95% Elbow Grease. First dust off any road grit with a soft dry brush. Apply the wax in a complete but very thin coat. Rub the wax on gently with a soft terry cloth rag, following the grain of the wood. After several minutes or an hour the wax dries and is ready for buffing. Buffing removes all the wax you can see, get it out of all the nooks and crannies. Buff to a deep luster using a clean dry white terry cloth towel, following the direction of the grain. All that's left of the wax is about 5 to 10 wax molecules thick, you can't see it, but it's there, repelling water and keeping the dust from settling on the surface.

5. Ongoing routine maintenance. Twice a year clean gently by dusting off road grit with a soft-bristle brush and wash gently by misting on a solution of 1 qt. water and 2 drops Dawn detergent, and daubing off with a white terry cloth towel saturated with plain water. Repeat and wipe gently, but do not scrub. Mist with plain water and dry off with a white towel. If the white drying towel is dirty, repeat. Wax as in step 4.

6. Ongoing occasional maintenance. After cleaning let the door dry for a day or two and examine the finish carefully for any deterioration of the finish film. Treat all spots or areas of deterioration by rubbing gently with bronze wool saturated with a 50/50 mix of varnish and turpentine. Wipe off residue immediately, but don't smear it into the surrounding finish that is still in good condition. Allow to dry for 4 hours. Then wipe on the 50/50 mix with a rag on the spots. The next day wipe full strength varnish on the spots, let it dry. The next day blend in the sheen of the spots with the surrounding surfaces by rubbing the spots gently with dry fine bronze wool, perhaps extending the bronze wood rubbing gently to include the entire door. Clean thoroughly and wax as in step 4.

_________________
John

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought
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Neal Yonover



Joined: 04 May 2010
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John,

That is excellent. Thanks.

Working on the door in place really makes it possible.

I do have a few questions.

<<From the photos it's hard to tell if it actually needs complete finish removal. If you know for sure polyurethane was used it probably should all come off because that stuff is UN-maintainable.>>

It's possible that the upper half of the door might just need cleaning. Other than cleaning the whole door, which should probably be done on general principles, is there another way to determine how much to remove?

I don't actually *know* that polyurethane was used, but all paint and materials for other projects around the building were done with Home Depot products. Is there a way to tell if it's polyurethane?

<<1. Remove all old finish down to bare wood, but don't damage the wood. Soften the finish with solvent-type or "eco"-type chemical stripper...>>

Is there a stripper you've had good results with? Eco would be ideal, but it isn't mandatory.

I'll make the custom scrapers.

Thanks again.

Neal
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