Home Improvement

Refinishing Interior Doors

All summer long we’ve had a lot of fun working on outdoor projects, building furniture, and updating our rec space in the garage. But that hasn’t stopped us from all the home improvement projects we also have going on indoors. While the major updates like bathroom remodels, refinishing floors, and painting walls and trim were completed in the first six months we owned the house (and before we even moved in), there are still a lot of little projects we’ve been completing along the way. One of those being refinishing all of the doors in the house. It was about this time last year that we got a start on this, working on the front entrance, foyer closet, and of course, my favorite window pane office doors.

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And now, it was time for us to tackle the seven interior doors we have upstairs. As you can see from this before and after, our upstairs hallway has already come a long way.

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And with the original doors still intact, glass door knobs and all, a little TLC was going to go a long way. The idea was to maintain the original look, but refinish them by sanding them down and applying a new coat of stain to help bring the dull wood back to life.

With Dan now having (maybe too much) experience in refinishing wood, we were able to crank through two doors a week and had them all done in no time. After removing all the hardware from the doors, Dan used chemical stripper to remove the layers of stain and bring out the original wood. He then sanded both sides of the door smooth, and applied Spiced Walnut stain, the same that was used for the interior doors on the first floor.

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The fun part about this is the mechanism that Dan built to help us stain both sides of the doors simultaneously. Using our rec space in the back of the garage, he built a base with a 2x4x8 piece of wood standing upright, turning it into a makeshift door frame. He then used the hardware to attach one door on each side, balancing out the weight and also helping us get two doors done at once. This saved us days and days of work, accounting for all the dry time required and the length of time it would’ve taken to only do one side at a time.

After adding two layers of stain, that’s when I came in to finish each door with three layers of semi-gloss poly. While I was working on that, Dan was simultaneously starting the cycle all over again with the next set of doors – stripping, sanding, staining.

When each door was finished, we had to clean the hardware before putting the doors back into place. With all the paint buildup over the years, this sometimes seems like a tough task of scraping all the layers away. And as you know, scraping is my absolute least favorite thing to do. Luckily, we stumbled upon a super simple way to get this done. All you need is an old slow cooker, water, and laundry detergent. Add the hardware, set on low to “cook” all day, and by the time we were home from work, the paint was falling off and the hardware was shining like new.

As each door was refinished and put back in it’s place, our upstairs hallway slowly started to come back to life. No more dull, dingy doors that felt out of place with everything else around it being new and updated. And I was happy we were able to keep another original feature of our house, maintaining the character of this 87 year old charmer, while adding a modern twist with the contrasting white trim and lighter paint colors used throughout.

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A subtle difference in the photos, but a huge update in real life.

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