How do I refinish my original front door?

Old 02-20-16, 01:55 PM
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How do I refinish my original front door?

Hi - I have a 1920s craftsman style home, with all original woodwork. The front door is in an enclosed porch, doesn't get any exposure to the elements or direct sunlight, but it's looking shabby. I don't want to get rid of this door, I would prefer to refinish it, but you can see from the pics what I'm dealing with. Is this just a matter of getting rid of that panel's veneer? I'm a light DIYer, but enthusiastic!
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Old 02-20-16, 03:04 PM
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It would be unusual for a door of that age to have been made with veneer, but it definitely looks like there is veneer and some of it has peeled off. I wonder if someone covered the panels with veneer during an earlier attempt as restoration.

The ideal route would probably be to replace the panels, but that involves disassembling the door. It's not impossible to do but can be quite a challenge.

Is it just the one panel that has damaged veneer? Your best bet might be to remove the remaining veneer on the damage panel and try replacing it with new veneer. It looks like red oak and veneer is readily available, although it will likely be a lot thinner than the piece that's on there now.

Once the damaged section is repaired, then you are faced with refinishing the door. It will be nearly impossible to get the new section to match that old finish, depending on how fussy you are.

If you're not happy with the condition of the rest of the door, then you are looking at stripping and refinishing, which of course will allow you to get a good match overall.
Old 02-20-16, 03:11 PM
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If you replace the veneer on the damaged panel you should be able to get the stain color right but there will be a difference in the grain between it and the aged portions of the door. Once you get the veneer stain color right it's just a matter of lightly sanding the rest and applying a fresh coat of poly.

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