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Prefinished, Primed or Unfinished Doors: Which Do I Need?

Both internal and external doors are usually available with unfinished, primed and prefinished options. But what exactly do each of these mean and how do you decide which one to choose?

prefinished mexicano oak doors

In this article, we will delve deeper into the nuances of prefinished, primed, and unfinished doors, discussing their features, benefits, and when each option is most suitable. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast seeking a rewarding project or a property manager prioritising efficiency and durability, our expert overview will help you navigate the world of door finishes. We’ll ensure you make a choice that transforms your home into a haven of style and functionality. The power to perfect your home lies in your hands, and we are here to guide you every step of the way.

Can you buy doors that don’t need painting?

Yes, pre-painted doors are available, and they can offer a seamless match with your interior décor. They can enhance the visual impact of your space, giving it a bold and sophisticated appeal that complements your existing design concept.

white pre painted fully finished doors

Most ready painted internal doors are white, black or grey which limits your colour options to the most popular ones. You can also get a pre finished wooden door that retains the appearance and colour of the wood it is made from for a more natural look.

What are prefinished doors?

A pre finished door is a door that comes ready for installation, with its desired finish already applied in a factory. This eliminates the need for additional painting, varnishing, or waxing. It’s a convenient option for those looking for a door that is easy to install and has a high-quality finish right out of the box.

According to Market Watch, the pre-finished doors market is likely to grow by around 4.8% CAGR during the period from 2023-2029. This is likely to be due to an increased demand for speed, quality and convenience.

Can I trim a prefinished door?

Yes, you can trim a prefinished door, but keep in mind that doing so will require resealing the edges. Pre-finished internal doors come ready to hang, so simply add hinges, handles, and attach them to the frame. Plan carefully to ensure a proper fit and preserve the door’s finish.

Can you paint over a prefinished door?

Yes, you can paint over a prefinished door. However, keep in mind that prefinished hardwood is more durable due to the multiple coats of paint applied at the factory. To ensure a successful paint job, properly prepare the surface by sanding with a fine sandpaper and priming before applying the new paint.

What is the difference between pre finished and finished doors?

Prefinished doors are more durable than home-finished ones due to their factory-quality finish. The factory finish can withstand a significant amount of wear and tear compared to a hand finish. Choose prefinished options for long-lasting durability and protection for your home.

The benefits of fully finished doors: are they worth it?

glazed prefinished doors

Yes, prefinished doors are worth it because they offer greater durability compared to unfinished alternatives. They also provide the convenience of a door that’s ready to install straight away. Let’s look at the benefits in more detail:

  • Durability: The factory-level application of multiple coats of paint increases their resilience and long-lasting quality, making them a wise investment. Unlike unfinished hardwood, prefinished hardwood doors are built with multiple layers of finish that enhance their resilience.
  • Convenience and Speed: Prefinished doors save you time and effort because you don’t need to apply a finish and wait for it to dry thoroughly. You can hang the door upon arrival and have your home looking fantastic in no time!

When pre-finished doors are right for you

fully finished wooden doors

If your priority is getting your new door in place quickly and making sure it maintains a beautiful appearance for years to come, choose fully finished doors. You might pay a little more for the convenience and durability, but you’ll save time, effort and make a wise investment for the future.

What is a primed door?

white primed doors

A primed door, or pre-primed door, is a suitable option if you prefer to paint it. These doors come with a primer base coat, allowing you to add one or two layers of paint. By choosing a primed door, you have the flexibility to personalise its appearance according to your desired colour scheme.

What is the difference between primed and finished doors?

Primed doors have a base coat of paint called primer but need to be painted before installation. On the other hand, pre-finished ones are already primed and painted, ready to be fitted. The main difference is that primed doors require additional painting, while pre-finished doors are ready to go.

In the UK, primed doors are extremely popular with over 50% of search interest when compared with unfinished and fully finished options (source: Google Trends).

Do I need to undercoat a primed door?

Yes, you should undercoat a primed door before applying the top coat. The undercoat helps to ensure better adhesion and durability of the paint, resulting in a smoother and longer-lasting finish. Applying an undercoat also helps to provide a consistent colour and coverage for a professional-looking result.

The benefits of primed doors

  • Balance: Less work than an unfinished door but still ideal for customising, pre primed doors are a happy medium betweenfully finished and unfinished doors. You’ll only need to add one or two coats to finish the job.
  • Cost: Mid-range in terms of budget, you’ll save in comparison with a fully-finished alternative.
  • Customisation: Both white and black primed internal doors are available, making it even simpler to paint in a particular colour. Lighter shades are more suited to a white base and darker ones to a black base.

When primed doors are right for you

painting a white primed door

If you want to customise your doors but it feels like a daunting process, choosing a primed finish will cut your work in half. Primed options are ideal for DIY enthusiasts looking for a smooth surface to apply their finishing touch. Colour matching is easy, so primed products are an attractive option when you want quick and easy door finishing.

What does unfinished on a door mean?

Unfinished doors are pre-sanded but not pre-treated or painted. This allows you to customise the door by staining, varnishing, or painting it according to your preferences. Transform a plain door into a personalised masterpiece with an when you choose unfinished.

Can you leave internal doors unfinished?

finishing a wooden door

No, you shouldn’t leave your doors unfinished. Finishing is necessary to protect the wood from moisture, temperature changes, scrapes and bumps. It allows for customisation in any desired colour and offers flexibility. However, if finishing the door yourself, it may be time-consuming and challenging. Unfinished doors provide the freedom to personalise, but be prepared for the additional effort involved.

How do you finish an unfinished wood door?

To finish an unfinished door, you can apply a stain, varnish or paint. Make sure you treat the whole door including the edges to seal the wood and protect it from damage and moisture.

priming a wooden door

To get the best finish, it is important to pay attention to the direction of your brush strokes. Once applied, allow the finish to dry thoroughly. Then, lightly sand, remove any dust with a tack cloth, and apply a second coat for a smooth and professional look. Following these steps will ensure a high-quality finish.

The benefits of unfinished doors

  • Cost: Because there’s still some work to do, unfinished doors typically cost a little less than their primed or fully finished counterparts. If you’re on a tight budget, taking on some of the work yourself can help you afford the door style you really love.
  • Customisation: The biggest benefit of choosing unfinished is that you can paint it a specific colour to match your interior design. You can achieve an exact match with other doors, windows or furniture or simply pick something unique to make your home stand out.
  • Satisfaction: There’s a sense of fulfilment that comes from making a home our own, and sometimes finishing our own doors adds to that feeling.

When unfinished doors are right for you

Unfinished internal doors are perfect if you want to add a personal touch to your home. If you’re prepared to put in the hard work adding several coats to create a smooth finish, an unfinished option is for you.

door painting and customisation

If you want a particular door style but it’s out of your price range, looking for the same style unfinished could be the answer to affordability.

International door manufacturer Jeld-Wen says:

Top money-saving tip: Buy unfinished doors and transform them into something special with a lick of paint.

Which door finish is most popular?

We’ve analysed our sales over the past 12 months to find out if unfinished, prefinished or primed wins out overall.

Whilst unfinished doors have been the top seller overall with 37% of sales, there’s really not much in it. Prefinished comes in at 35% and Primed at 28%. We’d expect this fairly even spread because each finish lends itself to different needs and circumstances. The right choice is the one that suits your current budget, time constraints and desire to personalise. It will be different for each person.

Making Your Choice

black painted internal door

When it comes to primed, pre finished and unfinished products, the key is understanding their benefits before you choose what’s right for you. Someone looking for a simple DIY project to put their own stamp on their home will make a different choice to a property manager who needs speed, functionality and durability.

We hope this expert overview has helped you make the choice between fully finished, primed and unfinished doors to help you perfect your home. The final decision is up to you!

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