Staining and Finishing New Front Entry Door

Questions From Our VisitorsCategory: FinishingStaining and Finishing New Front Entry Door
Scott Williams asked 2 years ago

Greatly appreciate your articles! I would also appreciate your thoughts on this project.
I’m having a new Douglas Fir entry door installed. I plan to stain and topcoat it myself, but I sure don’t want to screw up an expensive new door that will be on the front of my home! And my wife will be paying close attention to this project!
I was planning on going with General Finishes’ Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, a General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain, and then top it with Helmsman spar urethane. After looking at General Finishes website, I’m thinking about going with their Exterior 450 Water Based Wood Stain and then their Exterior 450 Water Based Topcoat, probably in Satin. When a user customer asked about a pre-conditioner, they said “Douglas Fir is a difficult wood to stain evenly. A 50|50 mix of your Exterior 450 stain color and Exterior 450 Clear would be a better choice for an exterior conditioner. Blotching may still occur even with this procedure.”  See this page on their website-
Your thoughts on using these GF water based products vs oil/alkyd based? I’ve never used a water based stain.
Besides the stain going on evenly and not blotchy, my biggest concern is a smooth topcoat. Do you think I’ll have trouble with the faster-drying water based topcoat laying down smoothly and not setting up too quickly on a large surface like a door?
I live in Texas and my door will be somewhat protected under roof cover that projects 10′ out.
Thank you!

1 Answers
William Stewart Staff answered 2 years ago

Hi Scott, and congratulations on your new door!
If you take the necessary time and attention, you will have an excellent result, and you will look with pride at your project every time you come home.

Water-based and oil-based products have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is debatable, which is better.
The most important thing is that they do the job for which they are intended; I think that water-based products are no longer inferior in quality to those based on oil.

The main difference comes with the technique of work. If you have experience with oil-based products and have had good results, my advice is to use oil-based products again (this way, there will be a greater guarantee of a good result).

But if your experience is as great as with water-based products, then it may be better to turn to water-based products. They are the future, and they are getting better every day, and of course, they are greener.

A few tips for easier work:

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them.
  • When you apply the coating, be generous (not so much that it flows on the ground), apply a copious coating, and then spread the excess; the wood will absorb as much as it needs and spread the rest with the brush. When you soak the coated brush, spread it on the door with a few movements to spread it evenly.
  • Before you start (the first immersion of the brush), make sure that it is completely ready for application – interrupting the process is not recommended.
  • It is good to do a test (for example, to apply a coating on a board similar to the door) so you will gain experience without risk.
  • Work in a clean environment – avoid any dust that may stick to the wet surface.
  • Regarding the topcoat to have a solid finish:
    – Make sure the surface is smooth before applying
    – Dilute the coating (as indicated by the manufacturer)
    – Work concentrated once you start
    – Work in the cooler part of the day (e.g., early in the morning)
    – After coloring the first coating can become rougher because the wood swells from the varnish, just treated with sandpaper P320 and apply another coating.
    – When applying the coating, the door should not be directly exposed to the sun.