How to Maintain Exterior Doors

When it comes to exterior wood door maintenance and maintaining other front entryways, most homeowners don’t do much to protect their them from what they’re exposed to every day. If you have a door that’s already been damaged by the elements, or you want to learn how to restore a weathered wood door in a home you’re rehabbing, everything you need to know is right here.

Exterior Door Maintenance 101

Exterior wood door maintenance is important to the longevity and proper function of the entryway. Things like cleaning hinges and doorknob assembly only need to be done every six to 12 months, while things like wiping down and oiling exterior door wood should be done more frequently. Here are some exterior entryway maintenance tips:

How to clean exterior doors

A simple solution of a mild dish soap and warm water used with a clean, smooth rag is the best way to clean an exterior door. Wipe until no more dirt or dust is evident when you swipe across the surface and allow the door to dry. If you have a wood door, apply a quality oil; for fiberglass or metal doors, you can apply a light coat of furniture wax after cleaning—just be sure it’s a very light coat! For the best exterior wood door maintenance, clean it once a week, and for metal and fiberglass doors, clean at least once monthly.

Choose the best oil for wood doors

The best oil for wood doors varies depending on wood type, but the best brands will consist mainly of either Tung or linseed oil, or a combination of both. For optimal results, you can buy pure linseed oil: it takes a little longer to dry, but it’s best for the long-term health of wood exterior doors.

Protect front door from sun damage

The best way to protect a front door from sun damage is to finish it with a varnish that contains UV-blocking ingredients. If your door isn’t finished with a UV-blocking varnish or paint, consider sanding it down and refinishing it with one that does; these finishes also stop damage from snow, rain, humidity, and extreme weather. Remember: Most doors have a 5–10-year warranty—if your finish is wearing out because of sun damage before the warranty expires, you could have it refinished or replaced for free.

How to Restore a Weathered Wood Door

For older wood doors that require restoration, it’s best to take the door off the hinges, remove all the hardware, lay it across two sawhorses, and sand it down to the wood. This clears away any old paint, finish, or varnish, and allows you to see if the door has any cracks or other repair needs. When you have the door down to the bare wood, wipe away all wood dust, and refinish or repaint it in a dust-free environment to avoid any debris settling into a new coat as it dries.

While the door is drying, work on the hardware: take the doorknob assembly apart, clean it, and apply a coat of silicone lubricant to the internal mechanisms (latch assembly and spindle). While the door is off, ensure the hinges are in good order: tighten loose hinge screws, wipe away grime that’s built up over the months or years, and coat hinges with silicone lubricant or WD-40. Once you’ve reinstalled the hardware and rehung the door in the frame, it will look brand new—that’s the best part of learning how to restore a weathered wood door!

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