"Staining" a fiberglass door

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Old 09-15-15, 07:50 AM
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"Staining" a fiberglass door

I have a 6-panel exterior fire-rated fiberglass door that's embossed with an oak grain & is primed with an ugly green/yellow coating. The instructions claim the door can be stained by ordinary water or oil-based stain, or paints. I tried stain but it just smeared and all wiped off with a rag, leaving just a hint of color behind.

Turning to Youtube I found a video from a painter showing how to "stain" a fiberglass door to look like real wood but the process was to paint on GEL stain, use brush to pull off excess to lighten to desired color, then leave to dry. To me this is not "staining" but rather glazing. I tried it and don't like how it turned out. Too dark and somewhat blotchy. I think if I were more experienced with this technique I could have achieved an even coloring.

Maybe I should have searched further on Youtube. Is there a better way? Better results for a glazing novice? I only did the exterior garage-side and now I'm leaning towards just painting the kitchen-side.
 
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Old 09-15-15, 09:15 AM
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Fiberglass does not accept stain the way wood does, it really is more of a glazing process and takes practice to get good results.
 
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Old 09-15-15, 11:11 AM
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I would paint the door and be done with it.
 
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Old 09-16-15, 03:36 PM
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I had a Peachtree brand 6-panel embossed oak grained fiberglass front door installed several years ago, and I bought a dark oil-base stain for the carpenter to use to stain it. As you noted, it doesn't "take" stain very well, and my door came out almost unchanged from the default light tan color it came with from the factory. I've gotten used to it, but next time, I'd purchase a factory-stained door. Overall, I'm pleased with the fiberglass concept, except for the inability of it to be easily stained to match the rest of the woodwork. I just wish the salesman at the lumber yard would have been more knowledgable about the problems with staining fiberglass.
 
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Old 09-16-15, 06:54 PM
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It's really not that tough once you understand the concept. As noted its more of a glazing. Put on the stain, use a graining tool and let it sit, then topcoat. Yes, it's a PITA, but can be done to look good.
 
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Old 09-17-15, 04:35 AM
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Another thing to consider and maybe it's not an issue in the north but the sun can do a number on the stained finish. While it's best to stop the deterioration before it starts [by applying fresh poly as needed] it's possible to restore a neglected wood door. I'm not sure how you'd go about restoring a bleached out fiberglass door. I've only finished a handful of fiberglass doors but to stain them you need to use a gel stain.
 
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Old 09-17-15, 07:38 AM
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Fair enough. I just thought there had to be something out there that went on the color you wanted so it's easier to control the final appearance, instead of using a stain in a "different" way. The gel stain I had on hand was a medium oak that sits in the can looking like wet coffee grounds. The door came out a very dark oak because there was no way to drag off enough stain to lighten it without exposing the tan primer beneath. I can live with it but I'm glad I did the garage side first.

I special-ordered this fire door to match the pre-stained door I have as my front entrance (same brand & type but not fire rated). The company description said it was a "medium oak color" so of course I was shocked to see it was tan primer. The guy in the door dept. at Big Orange had no clue
 
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Old 09-17-15, 08:38 AM
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Wait...you ordered a door that was supposed to be pre-finished and it came unfinished? Why the heck did you accept it? What does your paperwork say? Did you call the company?

I worked at "Big Orange" for 5 yrs and I inspected all my orders to make sure they matched the paperwork. If there is a problem with the original order, then get a manager to check it out.
 
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Old 09-18-15, 09:44 AM
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No--not exactly pre-finished but the wording was open to interpretation. HD carries the regular exterior door in stock in light oak and it's available SO in several other finishes--but none of that is true for the fire-rated version which only comes in "unfinished oak". The door arrived as described--the description could have been a little better.

There's nothing wrong with the door. The problem was my expectations didn't match reality.
 
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