Hot Topics: Door Finish Repair Turns Into Weatherstripping Project Hot Topics: Door Finish Repair Turns Into Weatherstripping Project

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It's not uncommon to attempt work on a home improvement project, only to divert your efforts into a related issue. This DIYer initially wanted to refinish a door between his vestibule and living room. However, talk in the forum quickly went from lead paint to weatherstripping. Confused? Read on.

Original Post: How to save this door? Is it worth it?

Spunky 424 Member

So I have a French door by my front door vestibule. I was planning on repainting it white but realized the bottom portion is peeling/chipping a lot. How would I go about fixing this door and repainting it? Is it even worth it or should I just get another door?

Highlights From the Thread

Marskr Member

First how old is the door? While lead based paints haven't been used in decades, if the underlying paint is lead - you don't want to sand into it!!

As long as the door itself is solid it can be salvaged. Either use a chemical stripper and bring it down to raw [or near raw] wood and start over or sand it down enough to be acceptable, prime if needed and repaint.

Spunky 424 Member

The door I think is original to the house which was built in 1952. It's got quite a few coats of paint but not sure if it's lead. I've been scraping off all the loose paint chips. Only one side of the door is chipping. The other side has smooth paint. What kind of chemical stripper would be best? And is it safe to get it on the glass portion?

Marskr Member

I don't use strippers all that often so when I do need to strip something I usually ask the paint rep at the store which product would be best for the job at hand. Chemical strippers won't harm glass but will harm plexiglass.

There is a good chance that the original paint on the door is lead based although the only way to know is to have it tested. Lead paint is dangerous when the dust from sanding is inhaled or paint chips ingested. While the odds are that a one-time exposure to lead won't hurt you, care should be used to contain/clean up the debris including dust - and wear a mask while sanding!

Is this an exterior door? if so ... a new door would seal better and be more energy efficient.

Spunky 424 Member

This is an interior door that separates the vestibule from my living room. There is a heavier exterior door with storm door on the other side of the vestibule. I initially removed this door but I'm starting to feel a cold draft and realize that this door was there to help contain that draft. The part chipping was facing into the vestibule where I assume the cold dry weather aided in cracking the paint glass portion?

Marskr Member

It sounds like you might benefit from replacing the door with a good exterior prehung door. Between the weatherstripping and the threshold it should stop all drafts. I assume the vestibule is unheated. Could it have originally been a porch?

Spunky 424 Member

The vestibule was heated at one point but the steam radiator was removed and capped. Don't think it was ever a porch...so you recommend just replacing the front exterior door and leaving no door between the vestibule and the living room? If that were the case what options do I have for cleaning up the doorway that's currently there since right now there's no door in that doorway?

Marskr Member

Unless you heat the vestibule, keep a door there! I was thinking if the vestibule isn't insulated well and the old door leaks much air, it might be wiser to replace that door with a new unit. Adding weatherstripping might be enough. If you decide to heat that space and do away with the door there are ways to dress up the opening so it looks good. ... Does it have any type of threshold? Does the door hit the stop evenly along the length or is there a gap?

Spunky 424 Member

The air is coming from both the left bottom and right bottom corners. I've taken some pics to show what I'm referring to. ... There is about 1/4" gap from the bottom of the door to the threshold.

Marskr Member
The door or the door stop? The door stop needs to go all the way down to the threshold. Ideally you'd cut a sliver of wood to match and then insert it with some caulking to act as the adhesive although you could just caulk the gap. With an Inswing threshold there does not seem to be a door stop on the threshold. The door deals with the doorstops on the sides and top of the door. Just not on the bottom.
Czizzi Member
Newer doors come with weatherstripping accessories that help seal the bottom corners where the transition from the door weather strip to the threshold leaves a small gap as in your last picture. They are basically small pieces of vinyl covered foam that are placed behind the weatherstripping to lift it out so that it meets the door and covers the gap. Here is a link to what Thermatru doors send along with their new installations: 841004 Dust PAD /Corner Seal - Brown All About Doors and Windows, Parts and Hardware
Spunky 424 Member
Thanks for this! Looks like a piece I'll definitely need to get. I replaced the door sweep for a slide-on vinyl sweep with multiple fins on the bottom, and that sealed up a lot more than the original sweep.

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