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- Lois Gries, ASID, Chicago
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Rescuing a Wood Front Door from the Brink

The sun and solid wood front doors are not on friendly terms. In fact, they are enemies! As painting and decorating contractors in the Chicago area, we were recently called on to rescue such a front door from the attacks of the elements. The door had great bones. It was made of solid knotty alder wood and was handsomely decorated with iron studs and a peep door cage.

Wood Front Door - Before Refinishing

Wood Front Door - After Refinishing

Understandably, with such good looks, the owners did not want to hide them with a storm door. Consequently, having a southern exposure, the finish had badly deteriorated, to the point where moisture had rotted the casing in several areas. A molding had also begun to warp. It was definitely time for an intervention.

Upon examination, we determined that the entire casing needed to be replaced. That gave me an excuse to pay a visit to my favorite lumber Store in the Chicago area: Owl Lumber. I personally hand-picked the knotty alder lumber to replace the casing. Our carpenter then milled it to replicate the original profile and completed the installation. The rest of the work involved our finishing expertise.

Our first step was to remove the weather stripping. Before stripping the old finish, we also removed the metal decorations on the doors in order to protect them from the adverse effects of the stripper and improve the overall look of the finishing. Upon completing the stripping and three coats of a tinted flexible varnish of choice, we reinstalled the metal decorations and the weather stripping. Voila!

We explained to our client that, with such an exposure to the elements, we should put them on a low cost, two-year maintenance plan, which will keep their door looking great and keep it out of trouble.