We're regularly asked about the process for staining doors and recommendations for products. Let me first say, any products mentioned here are not a recommendation, but mere mentions based off products our customers have been satisfied with. As always, follow the stain manufacturer's directions for applying their product. We recommend you contact the manufacturer of any stain or finishing product you plan to use and let them know how the product will be used, in this case on a door, the weather exposure anticipated, exposure to sunlight, and even the direction in which your home faces. Now that we have covered the disclaimer, on with the content.
What is the purpose of the stain anyway?
In summary, it is to enhance, beautify and protect the wood. The primary purpose is to protect as a result of the coloring and absorption of the stain deep into the wood's pores. The most common reason to use stain as a protectant is to protect against ultraviolet light (UV). Many stains help reflect UV light preventing wood surfaces from deteriorating and fading.
What are the factors to consider when choosing a stain?
The manufacturer's warranty requirements for finishing the door is an important factor. The purpose of the application (i.e. staining a door), the weather exposure anticipated, exposure to sunlight, and even the direction your home faces.
What brands do we recommend?
While we do not endorse any specific stain manufacturer or instruct you on how to use a particular product, we are happy to provide the following based off of our customers' feedback and satisfaction. For use, always consult with the stain manufacturer. Many of our customers have reported a high-degree of satisfaction with PPG's Proluxe stain products.Here is what PPG has to say about their products and the applying it to a wood door.
Of their stain products, they have two options. (these were their recommendations for use as of the date of this article so please contact them to confirm and/or get updated recommendations). Do not use the solid stains, semi-transparent, Log & Siding or Premium Deck stains (product codes "SOL-", "ST-", "LS-", "PD-", or "SRD-"). Focus on the Door and Window ("DW-") and the 1 & 23 products ("23-"). Their recommended products are:
- An all-in-one stain product: This is their Proluxe Door & Window Product (this would be best, but limited in colors). They have two colors, Dark Oak and Natural (look for the "DW-" colors, i.e. DW-009 Dark Oak) In this case, PPG recommends applying 2-3 coats of stain. The PPG representative we spoke to says, 3 coats is highly recommended. Waiting 24 hours in between coats with no sanding between coats
One thing we were disappointed to learn is that the Light Oak Door and Window is no longer available.
- A two step process: Step 1: Proluxe 1 Primary - 1 coat
Step 2: Proluxe 23 Top Coat (look for the "23-" colors, i.e. 23-005 Natural Oak) 2-3 coats depending on the color you're seeking. The manufacturer still recommends 3. Depends on the expected exposure.
In the example 23-005, you will be purchasing the Natural Oak 1 & 23 products both in Natural Oak.
The representatives did say you can mix colors to get the desired color if you wish. However, you cannot cross the product lines. For example, you cannot mix DW-009 Dark Oak with 23-005 Natural Oak. You could however, mix DW-009 Dark Oak with DW-078 Natural. Please seek the manufacturer's guidance on mixing colors.
With either, the maintenance on this product is to "clean" and re-apply a new coat once the sheen has gone away. This does not mean sanding to the bare wood. It is a very light, no pressure hand sand with a very fine grit sand while not disturbing the existing stain. You only cleaning the top in order to reapply the new coat. You should inspect your doo every year to ensure the finish is still in good condition, and possibly expect to apply a new coat application every 2-3 depending on exposure.
Ideally, you should never be sanding the door down to the bare wood and re-staining. If this is required the door's finish was not properly maintained and/or a product not suited for doors was used.
Keep in mind, these products might not be available in all areas. Certain areas have restrictions that prevent these specific products from being sold in your area. The important factors to consider when selecting a stain are listed below. Not all stains are created equally and some, while the color selection might be vast, are intended for interior use only.
Other Stain Options
Generally, retailers such as Sherwin Williams, PPG, etc are capable of matching stains. You will need to have them mix an exterior grade stain with a UV inhibitor (see below for more information). We are happy to provide our existing customers with samples of the raw wood as well as the stain color desired for matching purposes. Samples are only provided to our existing customers due to shipping costs, etc.
What does our manufacturer require of a stain and what is the process?
Our most up-to-date finishing instructions can be found here, but also referencing below.
- Prior to finishing, remove all debris, oils, and any other materials the unit may be exposed to during handling and installation. This is achieved by sanding the entire door with proper care by a professional to ensure no sanding marks.
- Depending on the stain material/stain manufacturer chosen, all directions must be followed including application and sanding techniques between clear coats in order to ensure proper appearance and stain coverage.
- All exposed surfaces of the door must be sealed, including the top, bottom, side edges and the hardware cutouts.
- It is imperative and will void any warranty of the door unit if a product is used that is intended for interior use and does not contain a UV inhibitor.
- Exterior surfaces, including the top, bottom and sides of the door must be finish coated with a good quality exterior grade paint or topcoat. At least three (3) coats of exterior grade topcoat with a UV inhibitor must be applied.
- Dark opaque stains as well as dark colored paints in installations with high sun exposure will not be covered under warranty as cracking, splitting, and warping are at high risk in this application.
- Most finishes on exterior doors deteriorate due to exposure to elements. To ensure exterior doors receive the protection required, inspect the condition of exterior topcoat at least once a year and recoat as often as needed to maintain the protective stability of the finish.
Can we get wood samples for the species of wood door we purchased to test stain colors?
Yes, please send us a request for wood samples and we will be happy to send them to you.
Regarding protection of the elements, what physical protections are required?
- All Doors must be installed providing sufficient protection from exposure to weather including excessive moisture/rain as well as excessive heat due to sun exposure. This protection required includes adequate overhang distance that is at a minimum projection from the home at one half the distance from the floor of the overhang to the ceiling of the overhang.
- Any deterioration of the wood components of the door unit caused by neglect or failure to protect and seal all exposed surfaces and edges of the door either prior to or immediately after hanging the door are not covered by this warranty. Every door unit regardless of exposure must be annually inspected and maintained by the homeowner. Reasonable maintenance includes ensuring adequate clear topcoat that contains a UV inhibitor and is maintained throughout the life of the door.
- Manufacturer reserves the right to require on site inspections of maintenance and installation procedures before any claim will be processed.
- Wood is a natural product therefore any variations in color, texture, grain or the general surface appearance of wood naturally occurring will not be considered defects. Variations in wood color must be compensated for by the use of staining methods preferably implemented by a professional.
- All wood doors are constructed using floating panels. This construction method allows for expansion and contraction. Exposure to severe moisture such as rain in an unprotected environment may result in water penetration through the panels and is not considered a defect. In the event of water penetrating through the edges of the panels in this environment, it will be the consumers responsibility to caulk and or provide a remedy for the water penetration.