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It might seem a hassle, but oiling, re-sealing and maintaining your external doors will pay off. After all, the less you look after them, the quicker you will need to replace them.

Of course, different doors need different levels of maintenance. With composite doors, you’ll need minimal involvement, but with external wooden doors, a little bit of regular work will produce long-lasting rewards.

In this guide, we’ll share tips on how to maintain any type of single-leaf external door or front door, whatever type of material it’s made from.

Questions about External Door Maintenance How To Maintain Your Doors

How Do You Maintain an Exterior Wood Door?

A wooden door with a high-quality finish is a beautiful addition to any home. It can bring personality to modern buildings and a traditional touch to country cottages or period homes. It is also a flexible choice that can be updated with a new stain or coat of paint anytime you choose.

However, the benefits of a wooden door can also be its downfall. The flexibility to refinish means you need to look after them. Unlike internal doors, exterior doors need to be protected from the elements otherwise they can really suffer.

How Do You Waterproof a Wooden Door?

If you want a long-lasting, waterproof and weatherproof finish on your wooden external doors, the best way to seal your door is using a varnish or lacquer. This will give the strongest protection, though it might not give the same level of visual appeal as using oil or paint.

When it comes to keeping rain and damp from damaging your door in the long term, the key is regular maintenance and refinishing – regardless of what finish you pick in the first instance.

Regularly inspect your door to see if moisture is still beading on the surface after contact. If it is starting to absorb, that is a sign you need to refinish your door with another layer of paint, varnish or oil.

What is the Best Oil for Wooden Doors?

If you want a warmer, more natural look for your external doors, there are a couple of oils you can use instead of a varnish.

Look out for linseed and tung oil preparations that are made for external use. These will contain additives such as polyurethane that will create a completely weather-resistant finish. You will need to apply a couple of layers of oil to your door in order to completely seal the surface against moisture. Leave it to dry between coats and remember you will need to repeat the process over time to maintain the protection.

When it comes to how often you should oil wooden doors, every two to three years should be sufficient. But take the time every six months or so to check the surface of your door to see how it’s reacting to moisture just in case.

Does Paint Protect Wood From Water?

A single coat of paint is never going to be enough to protect your door from dirt or moisture and it’s unlikely to look brilliant either. This is why it’s important you apply a primer coat before painting your door, and that you also use paint that is specifically made for exterior use.

The key to getting a waterproof finish from paint is to get an even and thick coverage, which takes a little time. Before you start you should sand the surface of the door to help the paint stick. Then clean all the dirt, grease and dust off completely before applying your primer or paint.

Note that there are also paints available that will both colour and waterproof/seal wood.

If you can paint your door before you hang it, that will always be a preferable option to painting an already hung door. Allow the door to dry before you re-fit it.

How Do You Protect External Timber Doors After Installation?

The only way to keep your timber doors protected is through regular maintenance. As well as checking the surface for waterproofing, you should check for cracks and other damage and address these as soon as you spot them to stop them from getting worse. If water gets inside any cracks during winter, it can freeze and widen them, while any damp that is absorbed into the surface of the doors can cause rot.

How to Clean External Doors

When it comes to cleaning your external doors, there are a couple of different tactics you can try. Whatever material your doors are made of, the best option is simply washing-up liquid and water with a soft sponge or cloth. This should be enough to remove dirt without damaging the surface of the door. Add a splash of vinegar to wash any glazed panels, then wipe dry with a soft cloth to prevent streaks.

Can I Hose Down My Front Door?

If your external doors are particularly filthy, it might be tempting to reach for a hose pipe or even a pressure washer to get them clean. If possible this should be avoided though – and you should never use a pressure washer to clean down a solid wood door.

uPVC or composite doors will be able to withstand the force of a hose but a pressure washer can strip away the protection on a timber door leaving the surface vulnerable to damage.

Can I Use WD40 on My External Door?

WD40 can’t be used to oil the surface of a wooden door but it does have a job in external door maintenance. As important as it is to maintain the surface of your door, you should also keep the lock in good condition to help keep your door secure. This is where WD40 comes in.

Most front doors open inwards, you won’t need to worry about exposed hinges being a security risk. This also protects them from the elements so they shouldn’t need much maintenance either.

However, the locks on your entrance door are likely to be subject to regular use that can dry them out and make them stick. If this starts to happen then a squirt of WD40 is your best choice to loosen them up without worrying about rust or damage.

Checking your door’s hardware including the hinges, lock mechanism and other accessories is a key part of keeping your external doors functioning as they should, so make sure to do this regularly.

How to Fix a Draughty External Door

The surface of your external door is not the only aspect you need to maintain in order to get the best from your door.

Most external doors will be fitted with a range of seals and strips that help stop water and cold air from getting in between the edges of the door and the door frame. These should be checked regularly, otherwise, your door might start to leak or draughts might sneak in.

If they start to split, fray or peel off, you can buy replacement foam and brush strips that will minimise draughts. These come with a self-adhesive surface to make them easy to install, and you won’t even need to remove your door to add them.

You should regularly check your door seals as well as your door’s hardware.

Fitting the stripping itself is remarkably simple, as it should just fasten automatically to the door. Once your seal is fitted, check for any leaks (with your fingers or check if there is light coming through) and make adjustments accordingly. It’s worth noting that you might need to have a few tries, as fixing the stripping too tightly can make the door difficult to open and close, but leaving it too loose will make it effectively pointless. It’s a case of trial and error more often than not. Weatherstripping will come in a variety of plastics, metals and rubbers, so be sure to do some research regarding durability before purchasing.

It is also worth checking the silicone or caulk around the outside of the door frame and sill. If you start noticing water coming in through your door and your seals around the door are fine, then the frame is likely the culprit. Find any gaps, cracks or damage to the seal around the door frame and refill.

The External Doors Information Centre

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