French Door Varnishing Made Easy

  • 5 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-150
What You'll Need
Saw horses
Paint solvent/stripper
Painter’s tape
Spray varnish or polyurethane top coat
Paint (optional)

Choosing a french door for either your home interior or exterior is definitely one way to brighten a room and create an open feeling. One of the tasks to complete before installing a french door is to stain and varnish it before hanging it up to enjoy.

Step One – Prepare the Doors

Before varnishing your doors, you will need to do some preparation work. It's a good idea to have two saw horses to lay the doors on as you work on them. Work on the doors in a well ventilated area, since you will be working with potentially dangerous solvents and varnishes.

If the doors have existing paint or varnish, use a paint removal solvent to remove those finishes.

Once the paint or old varnish is removed, sand the doors down completely, removing any remaining paint or varnish. Do this until the doors are completely smooth and there are no splinters or rough spots.

Using painters tape, tape off the glass panes on the door, taking care not to let the tape overlap onto the wood framing that separates the panes.

Step Two – Stain or Paint

If you are going to make the doors a natural wood color, then you will need to stain them. Let each coat of stain dry before putting on another coat. Repeat this until you have reached your desired stain color.

If you have decided to paint your french doors, then carefully work around the blue painter's tape, covering the wood completely with one coat of paint. Let the paint dry until it is no longer tacky and add at least one more coat in order to achieve full coverage and depth of color.

Step Three – Varnish and Seal

Sealing a wood french door is the same as varnishing. Often the two words-varnishing and sealing-are used interchangeably.

Lay your doors down on the sawhorses. Make sure the blue painters tape is still on the glass panes and not overlapping the wood door framing between the glass panes. Now, using spray varnish, completely cover the wood surface of the french doors with one coat. Let this coat dry for at least an hour before spraying on another varnish coat.

If you prefer the look and feel of a painted polyurethane finish, it will take longer, but can be used instead of a spray varnish.