Caring for Your Wooden Exterior Doors

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Investing in wooden exterior doors is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home. Aside from the aesthetics and the security benefits, solid wood doors are simply so much more durable than those made from other materials.

To ensure they last as long as they possibly can though, you’re going to have to take good care of them.

So just how do you keep your wooden exterior doors as good as new, year on year?

Caring for your exterior doors is not too hard, as long as you keep on top of the maintenance. If left too long, small issues can become bigger problems which then become much harder to deal with.

Being aware of some common causes of damage to exterior wood doors is a good place to start, and knowing how to deal with both minor and major repairs yourself can save a lot of money further down the line.

Causes of damage to exterior doors

As exterior doors are exposed to the elements, your wooden doors will naturally have to withstand more abuse than your interior doors.

Direct sunlight, heavy rain, snow and ice, and dust and debris blown by the wind can all damage the finish on doors. Since the finish protects the door, over time this damage can wear away the finish and then start damaging the actual door.

Wooden exterior doors will last longer when they’re protected by an overhanging roof. It’s recommended the overhang of the roof be at least half the height of the door for the best protection.

Dealing with minor exterior door damage

Minor weather damage to wooden exterior doors is fairly simple to deal with, but if you’re not familiar with the process it might pay to hire someone.

For doors with a varnish finish, it’s recommended to replace the finish almost every year. After removing the door, lightly sand the finish off with a fine-grit sandpaper. Use a paint scraper to get rid of any chips, but be careful not to gouge the wood. Brush the dust away with a rag dampened with mineral spirits.

Then, reapply several coats of varnish to the door. Several thin coats are more effective than one thick coat. You can also apply a coat of polyurethane afterward to give an extra layer of protection.

Painted doors are a bit easier to maintain. Simply wash the door with a light soap, and lightly sand or scrape away any chipped paint. Then apply at least two coats of paint, until the color looks solid and full.

Dealing with major exterior door damage

Even with more serious damage, such as dents, deep scratches, or gouges, it’s possible to restore your wooden exterior doors and have them looking great once again. You’ll need some epoxy wood filler or paste, as well as some exterior vinyl spackling compound.

Use a wood chisel to scrape the area down, clearing out any loose or damaged wood. The wood filler will work best when the hole is as clean as possible.

Mix the epoxy on a disposable surface according to the instructions. Then fill the hole with the epoxy, until it’s level and just below the surface of the door. Let the epoxy dry completely, and then apply the spackling compound so that it is perfectly smooth with the door’s surface.

Next, use some fine-grit sandpaper to gently sand the area to even it out. Then use exterior paint primer to prepare the area, and finish with paint that matches your door.

For the ongoing maintenance of your wooden exterior doors, it’s good to understand the ways that doors can be damaged. When you do, you’ll be able to catch it more quickly.

Light damage can often be repaired with some maintenance of the finish, while more serious damage will probably need a wood filler.

But if you treat your wooden exterior doors well and take care of them when they need it, the money saved on replacing them will, in the long run, make the effort more than worthwhile.

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