Posted on Leave a comment

How to treat an external wood door

Treating an external door

It is common for external wood doors to be sold “in the white”, or as unfinished raw timber. Before you install the door it must be treated and finished. This will protect the door from the elements, ensuring that it lasts for many years.


Tools Needed

You will need:

  • Primer / base coat
  • Stains or paints
  • Paint brushes (one thin brush, one large brush)
  • Sand paper
  • Masking tape
  • A dust cover


Time Required

An unfinished door will require a primer and at least two coat of paint. You may need to apply three coats of paint, depending on the type of wood and your desired finish. The door will need to dry completely before it is hung. For best results, allocate a weekend to priming, finishing and hanging an external door.

Treating an external door

Step By Step Instructions

Firstly, inspect the door to see if it needs a primer or base coat applied. Some doors are delivered factory finished, which means that they need only a top coat or stain. Others are raw wood, and will need a primer applied first.

To get a smooth finish, sand the wood lightly, following the grain using fine sandpaper, wipe the wood clean, and then apply the stain to the sanded wood. Try to sand sharp edges so that they are very slightly rounded, because sharp edges tend to be the point where paint starts to flake and peel, especially on external doors that endure harsh weather conditions.

Keep your brush topped up with generous amounts of stain or paint, and paint using long, straight strokes, following the grain.

Pay close attention to the edges of the door and the area where the letter box, locks and hinges will sit.


A Few Tips

Doors must be handled carefully because it is easy to accidentally damage them during the treating and installation process. Here are a few tips to help you look after your door.

Do: Seal, knot and prime all faces and edges as soon as you get the door.

Do: Store doors flat, under cover, in a dry and well ventilated room.

Do: Check that the varnish you choose is suitable for use on external doors.


Don’t: Hang a door before it is treated.

Don’t: Allow a door to be exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods before it is treated.

Don’t: Use dark coloured paint on south-facing doors in areas that see a lot of sunlight, because the increased surface temperature from the prolonged sun exposure may cause the wood to warp.



Treating an external door is not a complex task, but it can be time consuming. For best results, be patient and methodical. Give each coat plenty of time to dry, and carefully inspect the door after each coat to make sure you are happy with the results.

Note that your door will need repainted every two or three years to keep it looking like new. If you fail to take good care of the door, the paint will chip and peel and the underlying wood may become damaged.


Photo Credits:


Screen Shot 2020-02-20 at 11.50.16 AM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.