I would have any of his people over at my house for dinner!
- Lois Gries, ASID, Chicago
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Refinishing a Doug Fir Garage Door After all those Years

After a three-year search for a painting contractor they could trust to refinish their prized garage door, they found our company on the web and hired us for the project. This client lives in Oak Park, a near suburb of Chicago. A few years ago, they purchased a ninety-year-old house, which they completely remodeled. The only remaining portion of the house left untouched was the garage door, which was in sore need of restoration.

Doug Fir Garage Door – Before Refinishing

Doug Fir Garage Door – After Refinishing

As shown in the “Before” picture, the old finish looked foreboding. It was thick, had wrinkled and crackled in a veiny pattern. The door looked like it had not seen a can of varnish in at least forty years. What saved it from ruin, was that, first, it was made of Doug Fir and, second, it was facing North, away from sunrays. All the wood components were perfectly sound. However, since the varnish in the lower panels had long worn off, dark water stains had substantially marred the wood in many places. The same thing was also true of the areas where the varnish had crackled and exposed the wood. After stripping the wood, we used a wood brightner to lighten those areas as much as possible.

Replacing a Doug Fir door of this quality would be extremely expensive. The wood grain was also very tight, which would indicate that old growth lumber was used. West Coast Doug Fir is the second tallest conifer in the world, right after the Redwood. It has been known to reach heights of four hundred feet. It is a very decay-resistant specie, as demonstrated with this garage door.

Our client did not know that their door was made of Doug Fir. They just knew that they had a great old door, well worth the preservation and restoration effort. Thirty eight hours of work later: voila! The garage door now matches the house’s great bones and noble history.