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Wooden front door woes

(5 Posts)
Mosling Sun 21-Jun-15 21:35:53

We have a nice, solid wooden panel front door with glass panels at the top. When we bought the house it was in bad shape, varnish flaking and wood discoloured. I stripped it, put on undercoat and many coats of truly terrible gloss (now know not to buy water based gloss...). We tried Sadolin but it was really patchy so turned to paint.

One year on and it looks awful. The main problem, I think, is that it's very exposed and gets all the weather, sun or howling gale. The panels clearly move a lot (have seen 2-3mm movement when it's extreme, more usually 1mm) so the paint has cracked badly exposing undercoat, bare wood on a bad day and the rubbish wood filler I used (not thinking through how wood needs to move). It's mainly the panels but the joints have cracked a little as well.

What do I need to do? Is there a good solution or do people repaint their door every year? Or not paint as the wood needs to expand and contract? If so, how should I protect it? I spent so much time on it and don't want to buy a new door - advise me how I can rescue this....

PigletJohn Tue 23-Jun-15 09:50:14

A panelled wooden door will expand and contract according to weather and humidity. The panels are made so that they can move in the grooves. You should not use filler or thick paint here as it will crack, it is best to scrape the old paint out, and paint them (very thinly) during hot dry weather using a small artists brush on the exposed edge. You will see what I mean if you look at a panel edge when it is very dry. A paint which is of similar colour to the wood will make them less conspicuous, so not white.

If a panel splits down the middle you will have to use a flexible filler but it will never be very satisfactory. Scrape out the crack and use minimum paint.

For best results, sand it all off back to bare timber. If it is exposed I recommend Aluminium Wood Primer, which is very durable, and an oil based gloss system. Avoid black paint which will heat excessively in sun, and red paint, which will fade. Varnish gets shabby and needs a lot of maintenance, but you can use a breathing stain on hardwood if you want (after stripping back to bare wood).

Mosling Tue 23-Jun-15 13:39:34

Thank you, I was really hoping you would reply on this thread! Much appreciated.

dollysflop Tue 23-Jun-15 22:07:51

We've got the same problem. You said to sand it back to bare wood. I assume it's ok to strip with a hot air gun/paint stripper first?

PigletJohn Tue 23-Jun-15 22:52:51

yes, you can use a hot air gun, and a small selection of scrapers. Try not to let the corners of the scrapers scratch the wood. An older panelled door may have complex moulding profiles, you can get triangular and curved scrapers to fit. Shield the glass from the hot air unless you can take it out before you start. You can use an orbital or belt sander on the flat parts. You might try a small detail sander but I rather think you will be quicker by hand. You need a cork sanding block to wrap the paper round. If you use a coarse paper and scratch the wood you will then have extra work with medium and fine grade to sand away the scratches. Never sand or scrape in circles, only along the grain.

Modern chemical paint strippers are rather ineffective.

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