Refinishing Exterior Wood Entranceways

    This part of our work is without a doubt the most challenging and rewarding.  Bringing custom made exterior wood doors back to life is a complex operation.  It’s not complicated, just time consuming to manage.

    Most people ask us if we’re going to take the door off and take it away to refinish it. We could do that but then you’d be left with a big hole in the front of your house.  So even if we had a shop and even if we could get your door off the hinges, safely onto a truck and taken to a shop (that we don’t have), we’d need to charge you to fill the hole with either a temporary door or block it off with a big piece of plywood.

    The less expensive option to a temporary door insert is to have us do all the work on site.  If you choose this second option, it means coordinating times when you can be home during the day because there will be times when the door will need to stay ajar while it dries and cures.

    Doing any woodwork refinishing takes many separate steps with dry times between each one so much of the cost to do this work involves us making a number of visits over the course of many days.

    The cost to do this work is high.  We suggest that potential customers consider the cost as a percentage of the original investment or relate it to replacement cost.  Ideally, we would have everyone calling us every year or so to do preventative maintenance but sadly, that’s never happened.

    The process of re-finishing exterior wood doors and entrance ways

    We start by stripping the door down to bare wood.  That is important for exterior doors because they wear unevenly depending on exposure to sunlight and weather and we need to have the whole surface at the same level before we can begin applying a new finish. (Some pictures shown here are doors we didn’t take down to bare wood but generally, they are the exception.)

    The other reason we strip exterior doors is that by the time most people call us, some areas are worn down to bare wood already, so sanding needs to be done to remove weathered wood.  The other reason for stripping doors is that the clear coatings applied by many doors manufactured in Canada are very hard and once they fail, they have to be removed completely.

    How many days does it take to refinish a doorway?

    Depending on the weather and the door itself, it usually takes multiple visits over 4-5 days.  If your front door faces South, we may need to do the work in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid applying finishes in direct sunlight.  (Paint stripper literally boils and evaporates if applied in direct sunlight.)

    When can you do the work?

    Our season for refinishing exterior doors is short, usually spring and fall.  Outside those times, it’s either too cold, too hot or too wet to achieve a quality finish. We try and schedule doors at the same time so we can work on multiple projects during the same week so we ask our customers to be flexible and also work with us to schedule the work when someone can be home during the day.

    I want the door to look like it did when it was new. Can you guarantee it?

    No. Sorry, it is simply impossible to get your door to look like it did when it was first made.  The simple reason is that your entrance way was built in a factory under controlled conditions. It was then installed on the front of your house and left to the elements. We will have a close look at the inside of the doorway because that’s what it looked like initially but we make no guarantees.

    It’s an oak door.  Shouldn’t hard wood be easy to refinish?

    The short answer is yes, and no. Next to teak, oak is one of the hardest woods and is ideal for exterior doors.  But if the doorway has been neglected to the point that all the finish has worn off in places and it has gone grey or worse we have to sand it back until we get to ‘new’ wood.


    We love what we do and we especially love the challenge of refinishing exterior doors. If you can trust that we will make your doorway look magnificent but may not look exactly like it does on the inside, we would be thrilled to work with you.

    The entrance way to your house enhances curb appeal and says a great deal about you, your home and first impressions.  But you already know that and that’s why you’re reading this.