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refinishing old doors

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  • refinishing old doors

    Does anyone have any tips on refinishing old flush interior doors? These are from 1955 and have a wood core with a birch veneer. I sanded one down and put a honey oak stain on it and it turned out less than perfect. Why honey oak you ask? Well we had most of our house remodeled and had plenty of oak cabinetry installed along with oak trim and baseboards...all with a honey oak stain and a sealer applied on top, which I did personally and it turned out great. Anyhow when looking at the price of oak doors and seeing that our current interior doors are in great shape I figured it would make more sense to sand them down and update the finish. Unfortunately this birch veneer is throwing me a bigger curve than I would expect. If anyone has any ideas I would greatly appreciate it. I don't need the doors to be a spot on match with the oak trim, but I would at least like them to look as good as all the new wood work and other things that have been refinished. By the way the floors were redone and even though they are maple they have that same quality look as the new stuff. I realize various wood types have different qualities but this birch has me shaking my!


  • #2
    Hate to say it, but I would recommend painting them to match the surrounding walls. Birch is a complete pain in the neck to stain in the best condition, and having been previously painted is definitely not the best condition.

    If you wish to persevere, I recommend using stripper instead of sanding to remove the paint. Sanding is false economy, it is a lot more work than stripping and doesn't produce as good a result. If you wish to do this, there are some tips that aren't always on the can...

    By the way, take the door outside to strip it, the chemicals are somewhat to fairly unhealthy.



    • #3
      Have to agree with Dave. A stripper is best.

      Before stripping, rub it lightly with a coarse sandpaper, like 40 grit. Don't gouge the wood, just the finish. This will allow less stripper to use, and faster penitration of the stripper.

      After the stripper has been washed off, use a neutrilizer. The wood can absorbe some of the stripper and bleed back through the new finish.

      Allow a couple of days for the wood to aclumate after the neutrilizer, then lightly sand. Might try a sealer coat before staining, that will help a more uniform color in the stain, and a more controlable color.
      John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


      • #4
        Yes, birch is a pain to refinish/stain. Painting might be the easiest/cheapest alternative. Of course, if you were up for more work and could get the existing surface fairly flat, I've read about people re-skinning their doors with veneer! Before you go too far on this thought, check around for availibility/costs.


        • #5
          Another thought might be to use a paint that is similar in tone to the woodwork that you are attempting to match and then using a graining tool to give it a woodgrain effect. It might not be perfect, but it would be much simpler than stripping birch that has been painted int the past and trying to restain it.


          • #6
            I had some success with using an oil finish that I added stain to. It helped even out the color and gave enough protection. The only down side is that I do need to treat the finish by waxing it about twice a year.


            • #7
              Thanks for all the replies...unfortunately I don't think I stated my question clearly, sorry. The orginal doors that are in my house are all the original stained birch doors, not painted. The finish on some is o.k. but they need to be updated after years of various in house conditions such as humidity, sunlight, etc. If you folks have any more ideas let me know. Thanks again.



              • #8
                I re-skinned an exterior door the same way. At first I didnt know if it was even possible till explaining it to one of the guys at the store and he says, Oh your looking for a door skin.
                Glued it on, stained it with colonial oak stain,I believe. Turned out way better than I imagined.


                • #9
                  OK---just some of the doors are bad and I'll just be you don't want to strip the varnish off all of them-----

                  Here's another approach, so you don't have to worry about stripping and trying to match the stain-----do this on saw horses with drop clothes---
                  Get some furniture "refinisher". I think both Formbys and Jasco make some----follow the directions using 0000 steel wool. I've used it before---yes, it will lighten the stain slightly (though I think it's more to do with removing the yellowing of the varnish) Again, clean up per directions----then, lightly hand sand with 150 or 220 paper---clean off and add a couple of coats of your choice of poly'. This should be the easiest---The scratches that don't disappear, you can always use a wax stick.