Refinish Your Front Door to Avoid a Curb Appeal Disaster

In many cases you can handle this project yourself but even if you choose to hire a contractor, this article should give you an idea of what to expect and how to plan.  The BEFORE is on the left, the AFTER is on the right.

  • Total Price (On Your Own):  $146.11.  This included a gallon of Sherwin-Williams Cab-Acrylic in Van Dyke Brown, four new 4″ hinges, a new deadbolt from Baldwin, a new door viewer, all in oil rubbed bronze and odds and ends like sandpaper.
  • Total Price (Hire A Contractor):  $400 – $700.  Depending on your location, you should be able to find a contractor to remove, refinish and replace your front door.  Note:  This price usually doesn’t include new hardware costs and installation.
  • Time to Complete: A full day.
  • Level of Complexity: Medium.  The most difficult part of this project is spraying the Cab-Acrylic from Sherwin-Williams.  Removing the door takes two people since solid core wood doors are heavy, especially the eight foot door shown refinished here.

Project Overview

 

Refinish Your Front Door Temporary 2

Build a temporary door.

Step 1:  Picking the Right Color.  We picked a very standard Van Dyke Brown which is a simple, pure, deep brown color.  It is a good idea to pick a few colors and set them out around the project area to make sure they will complement your home.

Step 2:  Order New Hardware (optional).  If you are on a budget or like the existing hardware skip this step.  If you are going to be making door hardware upgrades during this project, make sure to have them ordered and delivered well in advance of the day you do the work.

Step 3:  Decision.  Do it Yourself or Hire a Painter?  It comes down to your skill level and how much time you have.  When in doubt, hire someone to do the painting portion.

Step 4:  Decision.  Paint In Place or Remove?  I always prefer to remove pieces that I’m working on so that I can properly sand, prepare and refinish the door but you certainly can have the door refinished while it remains hanging.  I would guess that most painters you hire will recommend that the door remains in place and that is fine.  But it is my opinion that to do this project right, you need to remove it.

Step 5:  Build a Temporary Door.  What to do when the door is missing?  A simple and inexpensive solution is to build a door replacement!  This can be accomplished with one sheet of plywood and some 1″x3″ stock from your local Home Depot.  Take a look at the pictures of the temporary door.  This is also a great option if you cannot get the door replaced by the end of the day or if the finish you’re using requires 24 hours to completely dry.

Refinish Your Front Door First Coat

First coat of paint.

Step 6:  Remove & Paint.   Take the door down making sure to have a helper since it’s very heavy and awkward.  Move the door to your refinishing area, usually an area out of direct sunlight that has good ventilation.  Note:  I use saw horses to set the door on so that I can easily walk around it to work.  Take all the hardware off and set it aside.  Sand the whole door with 150 or 220 grit sandpaper depending on how much build is on the door.  Sanding is critical since it roughs up the surface so the new paint will adhere.  An alternative approach would be to use a paint stripper, bring the door down to bare wood, stain to your desired color and then clear coat.  For this project I sanded and re-painted using a Cab-Acrylic from Sherwin-Williams Industrial Paints.  It has a dull rubbed sheen which is a satin sheen equivalent.  You will need to prep and paint one side at a time and make sure the paint dries fully before you flip the door and start working on the other side.  Repeat the process on the other side.  Once the door is totally dry replace the door hardware.  Note:  I reviewed a great book on spray finishing by Jeff Jewitt.  It is an excellent resource and the review can be found in my company store.  It will walk you through some of the details of HVLP spraying.

Step 7:  Replace Door and Enjoy.  Grab that friend of yours and get the door back in its spot.  Larger doors such as this eight foot door are awkward and tough to handle.  Take your time getting the hinges lined up with the door jam.  It can be a frustrating experience so take your time to get it right.  Make sure to set some old rags on the floor to use as spacers so that you don’t get your floor dirty or worse yet damage it.   Be sure to check all the clearances and adjust as necessary.

This project will add a ton of curb appeal to your home and it makes a huge difference for the money invested.  Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions.