How can I protect a new door from the sun?
December 29, 2012 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Help me decide how to finish our new front door....

Happy New Year! We live in a house that was built in 1928 that has the original front door. It is very warped, has been repaired numerous times over the years and the door jam has been patched with everything from cardboard to bondo. We have a very competent craftsman who is going to rebuild the jam and make a new door after the first of the year but the question is how to finish it. I want to leave it natural and apply a medium dark stain and varnish but the door gets full day sun. We are in Ga, the sun gets hot and it really is full exposure from dusk till dawn. In August, you can't even touch the outside without getting burned. The craftsman thinks we need to paint it a light color in order to protect the new door but another contractor friend said that there are new varnishes that can withstand the full GA sun and heat. Does anyone have any experience with this? Any advice? I'm not completely adverse to painting but I want to know all my options first. And I want to protect the investment we are making with this new door, it's not cheap. TIA....
posted by pearlybob to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I think the second contractor has drunk the marketing Kool-Aid being ladled out by finish manufacturers.

More than you want to know about this: Woodweb Knowldege Base

Choice quote: The perennial problem: a clear finish tough enough for outdoor exposure. Bottom line, there's no such thing: sooner or later, the door will need recoating. Here, pros consider the tradeoff between the durability of the initial application and the difficulty of the eventual refinish job.
posted by jon1270 at 10:25 AM on December 29, 2012

A house in my neighborhood from the same era, for about 2 days last year, had a STUNNING "Tffany Blue" painted front door.

The house was being flipped. A few days after I noticed how beautiful the light blue door was, they went ahead and painted it the ubiquitous red everyone else in the neighborhood has. Boo.

Hope that helps. The blue door was really attractive!
posted by jbenben at 10:27 AM on December 29, 2012

Response by poster: He said the new varnish was called epiphanes (?? I may not have that right). I should have put that in the original question. I'm fully prepared to re-finish every few years, we will have to no matter what....just want to do what is best for the door underneath the finish. Thank you jon1270, I'm going to check out that link.
posted by pearlybob at 10:33 AM on December 29, 2012

Epifanes isn't magic, but it does have an excellent reputation. It will take several coats to protect the door, which makes it expensive to do correctly.
posted by jon1270 at 10:46 AM on December 29, 2012

What kind of wood will the door be made of? If it's not mahogany or walnut, even maybe oak, no reason not to paint.

As jon1270 has said any clear coat will take more coats, which entails lots of scuff sanding.

My inner boss is already thinking that depending on the amount of panels and or moulding 500-700 bucks doesn't seem out of hand if done professionally. And the sun will still bleach the wood or stain, even with high UV resistance.

We've done several exterior doors over the years using spar varnish and have yet to get calls about the finish degrading, oldest is going on 7 years. North facing door however.
posted by Max Power at 11:13 AM on December 29, 2012

Have you considered fiberglass? There are some beautiful ones out that that are less maintenance intensive than wood especially in harsh conditions like you have.
posted by cecic at 11:34 AM on December 29, 2012

Response by poster: Has to be custom made to fit the hole....and I want to keep with the original style of the house. Tudor revival. And it is very thick.... wood is the best option. I figured I won't be around in 85 years when it needs to be replaced again...
posted by pearlybob at 11:45 AM on December 29, 2012

what about an exterior wood stain in a pale colour? if you click on the "more colours" button at that link, the have semi-transparent stains in some nice pale blues and greys that would show off the natural grain, but be light enough to keep your door from getting roasting hot.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:21 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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