5 Tips for a Long-Lasting Wood Front Doors

5 Tips for a Long-Lasting Wood Front Doors

November 14, 2022
Martin Whitmore, President of US Window & Door
wooden front door of a building

Installing a quality entry door in your home helps enhance your security and exterior curb appeal. However, it's important to take good care of your door to keep it looking and functioning at its best for as long as possible. 

San Diego doors are arguably one of the most important parts of your home's front exterior appearance. Many would argue that it's extremely crucial that every home has a front door made of high-quality materials that are properly installed and maintained–this should allow your home's entrance to remain welcoming and safe for your guests and family alike. 

Investing in quality wood doors in San Diego is a fantastic way to accomplish these important objectives, and maintaining that wood door is an important part of maximizing the potential of that investment. A good wood exterior door will offer durability, sophistication, and aesthetics to your entryway. 

The best way to achieve this purpose is through maintenance. Unfortunately, front door maintenance is one of the last things most people think about when planning their exterior home maintenance. Maintaining your entry door is vital to extend its lifespan, keep up with your exterior curb appeal, and preserve energy efficiency. 

Below are five helpful tips for long-lasting entry.

Dust Exterior Doors Weekly

Excess dirt and debris can negatively impact your door's service life and create an unappealing first impression. Hence, keeping your entry door clean can help keep your outdoor space neat, tidy, and welcoming. You should clean your door if you start seeing signs of water stains, debris, spider webs, and dirt.

Here are ways you can regularly clean your wooden front door. 

Dust - Always dust away cobwebs. Exterior entry doors will gather dust and cobwebs. About every week or so, dust your exterior door to keep it in good condition. This will also help keep spiders from nesting and prevent insects from congregating by the door.

Mild Soap - Using a mild dish soap mixed with hot water, use a non-abrasive brush to scrub the surface of the wood door. Remember to rinse away all the soapy residue with hot water.

Cleaning Edges - Open the door and also remember to clean around the edges of the door and the door frame.

Steam Cleaning - For people that have upright garment cleaners, use the steam feature to soften any dirty areas gently. Then wipe away the grime with a clean cloth.

Dry - Wood holds moisture, so it's important that after cleaning, it is allowed to dry out. Consider putting a fan nearby to help the door quickly dry.

Restain or Painting - You'll likely want to restain or paint the door at some point in time. Make sure to buy paint or stain that is specifically for exterior doors. It is also recommended to purchase a semi-gloss or high gloss, as these two types of sheens are easy to clean. Flat and satin paints aren't meant to be cleaned or washed and show dirty fingerprints easily.

Fixtures - Don't stop at cleaning the door; remember to sanitize the fixtures. Think about how often someone touches the front door knob a day or week. It comes in contact with abundant bacteria, so it's important to give these areas a little extra TLC too.


Apply Polish Regularly

To maintain the beauty of your exterior wood doors, you may want to polish them periodically – you'll know it's time if the surface starts looking a little dull. At that point, grab a clean, soft rag and apply a light coat of good-quality furniture polish or wax, one that's safe for use on natural wood surfaces. 

cleaning exterior wooden door

Though wood doors possess great strength and durability, they aren't immune to damage. Over time, the finish will fade or, if painted, chips and cracking in the top coat may appear. To restore the appearance of your entryway, you can apply a new protective coating. First, lightly sand the entire surface and wipe it down with a rag dampened with mineral spirits. Then, simply apply two or more coats of a fade-resistant finish or exterior paint with ultraviolet protection.

Before polishing your wood doors, make sure that you have the right solution for this. You can purchase some at the store, try a homemade product or get a versatile polish. More advanced techniques would include tools like varnish, lacquers, tung oil, etc. However, if you want something simpler with less toxic fumes, there are options that will make your door shine. 

One important thing to remember is not to use food oils for this purpose. It's often recommended online as a crafty and simple solution. But while the food oils will give your wooden doors instant shine, they will spoil and start emitting a gross smell. So ignore those recommendations and use a polish that's meant for your door. This is especially true for external doors; imagine leaving food oil out in the sun. 

Also, after you're done cleaning the door,s you should test the polish on a small area to see how the wood will react to it. If there's nothing significant happening, you can move on to cleaning. If you have wax on your door, use a wax remover first. Then once the door is dry as well, you should apply the polish. Thin layers are the best because there will be no pooling of the polish, and it will have enough time to absorb into the door. Rub the polish in with a clean rug. 

You should apply the layers and rub along the grain so the polish completely gets in. One layer may be enough for you, but you may also want several layers, so apply until you are satisfied with the look and the shine. Remember all of those nooks and crannies that you can't easily spot, but that is just as important. 

You can repeat the polishing whenever necessary. Make sure to perform polishing routinely. Avoid using silicone-based polish as it doesn't do much for your door except make it more brittle. After using this, you won't be able to use any lacquers or anything similar. 

If you have any scratches on your door, you should use pigmented wax to hide those scratches. If you don't have any scratches, you can use clear wax. However, be careful not to use too much. One coat and buffing afterward will suffice.

Check for Water Penetration

If your wood door has water damage, it's important to take the time to assess the situation. You'll want first to figure out how much water was involved and where it spread. If the door is not structurally compromised, you can treat the water damage with a sealant or a stain blocker. If the door is structurally compromised, you may have to replace it.

In most cases, replacing an affected door is less expensive than repairing it. Once you know what needs to be done, follow these steps for a successful repair: Cleaning and drying the area will help reduce the chances of further damage. Inspect all hinges and screws for signs of corrosion. Apply a sealant or stain blocker according to package directions. Remember that in most cases, replacing an affected door is less expensive than repairing it.

Visually and physically inspect the door frame. Sometimes, it's obvious to see where the damage is. Many door frames suffer water-induced rot around the bottom, where the floor becomes drenched. However, your water event might have occurred in the ceiling, leading to problems above and below.

A wooden door frame that's rotten will "give" when you touch it. Be sure to investigate all the areas of the frame by pushing with your fingers. Note the places that seem to be damaged because these will need to be replaced.

Evaluate the Extent of Rotting

The problem with wood rot is that it may look nominal, but it can be widespread. Alone or with the help of a professional, such as someone from ServiceMaster of Lincoln Park, begin to remove the rotten parts from the door frame. Don't be surprised if you discover deeper damage levels than expected.

Remove any parts of the door frame that cannot be repaired, even if that means taking out a majority of the door frame. As soon as the wood has reached this level, it will never return to its previous state.

Replace the Damaged Parts With Substitute Wood

After taking out the damaged wooden door frame areas, you can then replace them with similar wood that has been cut and measured. Again, this is best handled by an expert unless you have the tools and know-how to safely and securely get the job done. In the meantime, take time to clean the remaining door frame with a mixture of bleach and water to inhibit future mold growth and completely sanitize the jamb.

Repaint or Stain the Door Frame

Finally, you're ready to put the finishing touches on your restored door frame! Using paint or a stain, bring your door jamb back to new. Be sure to allow enough time for it to dry.

Refinish the Door

All wooden doors need protective finishes to secure their surface against the many detrimental elements they may keep out of your home. Many wooden doors are finished with paint, but one of the main drawbacks of doing so is that the beautiful grain the door possesses is permanently hidden from being seen. 

A non-opaque coating around your door, whether it's oil, polyurethane, or another finish, will allow the beauty of the door to shine while also keeping it safe from harm. Humidity, sunlight, and blunt damage. Most door finishes are categorized between penetrating finishes and surface finishes. Finishes that are "penetrating" are the easiest to apply. They are less shiny and help to bring out the natural appearance of raw rood grain. Some examples of penetrating finishes are linseed oil and Danish oil. They don't provide the strongest protection or seal, but they are much better than no finish at all, and they can be absolutely gorgeous to look at. 

Surface finishes, on the other hand, offer a more durable seal as they essentially solidify into a protective shell around the door's surface (rather than saturating the outside of the door, as oils do). Surface finishes, as this protective coating, solidify into a glossy, shiny surface that can easily scuff and sometimes fade. They are more difficult to apply compared to penetrative finishes, so both types offer different pros and cons. Common examples of surface finishes include varnish and polyurethane. 

Investing in a solid wood exterior front door is one of the best ways to invigorate the curb appeal and appearance of your home. Keeping it completely functional, secure, and maintained is an important part of ensuring such an investment will be worth your while. A new wood door has so much potential as a focal point that loved ones and visitors will appreciate as they enter your abode. Door maintenance may, at first, sound arbitrary, but the reality is that 

is an increasingly precious material as its sustainability becomes a deeper concern. Reflect the inherent value of the trees that grew for years and provided the wood for the door–take care of it.

Apply Borate Treatment on the Jamb

Borates are able to repel wood-eating insects by interfering with their digestive system, in effect killing them. Surviving insects will avoid the treated wood. In order to be effective, the borate treatment needs to not only cover the surface of the wood door but penetrate deeply to ensure adequate protection.

wooden exterior front door of a house

This means the borate needs to be applied only to bare wood that has not been stained or painted. The stains or paint will prevent the borate from soaking in and therefore offer no protection. It is also advisable to sand the surface of the wood door before applying the borate, as this will make the surface more porous and allow for deeper penetration.

Keep in mind that borate treatments are only useful as a preventative measure against wood-eating insects. If an infestation has already occurred and termite damage is present, the borate treatment will not be effective. For this reason, it is advisable to treat the wood as soon as possible. Borate wood treatments are safe, effective, affordable as well as widely available. 

Choose US Window & Door for Wooden Door Installation 

Wood front doors are designed to complement any style of home and boost your curb appeal. US Window & Door offers a wide variety of Milgard’s wooden doors, including ones with glass to let more light into your home or without glass to maintain the maximum amount of privacy. Our door experts can help you find durable wood front doors and personalize your entryway look with design accessories and hardware. Furthermore, we'll help to properly install them into your home to beautify the exterior and boost the curb appeal. Schedule a free in-home estimate* and get started today!