How to Care and Finish Your New Wood Exterior Door


Wood Exterior DoorQuality wood exterior doors are handcrafted to last for decades. Just like fine furniture, new wood exterior doors need proper finishing and regular upkeep to ensure peak performance.

With high quality wood exterior doors, you can choose from a wide variety of stain or paint possibilities.


1. Before applying the first coat of finish, first remove all handling marks, raised grain, and other undesirable blemishes by sanding all surfaces with 180 grit sandpaper. For doors with shaker sticking, lightly ease the sharp outside edge of the sticking with sandpaper. Sand with the grain to avoid cross-grain scratches.

2. Adjust and/or align components if necessary before finishing. Wood panels move slightly or “float.” They may be moved into alignment with a knock from a wood block and hammer. When doing so, be careful not to damage the door.
3. Clean the door thoroughly with a cloth to remove all dust and foreign materials after sanding.
4. Doors must be dry before finishing. All surfaces of the door must be finished properly. The top, bottom, sides, and all edges should be coated just like the exterior surface of the door.
5. With doors that have clear glass glazing, it is important to flow the finish from the wood slightly onto the glass. This provides protection against water leakage and protects the glazing compound putty from drying out. Please note that it is the finishers’ responsibility to protect the glass during the finishing process.

6. Oftentimes, new doors have a plastic film to protect the glass. Remove this film immediately after applying the finish. DO not use razor blades or other sharp tools to remove the plastic film, as these items may scratch the glass.


After a thorough prep, the first coat should be a combination of stain and sealer. These products color the door and seal the surface. Stains are available in a wide range of colors to achieve the desired look. The stain and sealer should have an alkyd resin base.

The second and third coat (third coat if needed and/or desired) can be a polyurethane or water-borne (latex resin base) clear finish.


Doors should be sealed with a primer. Lastly, the job should be finished with two coats of top quality paint.

Proper care and finishing of your new wood exterior door will ensure you decades of sophisticated beauty and trouble free performance.