Are Wood Doors a Good Choice for Your Home?

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Wood doors are a beautiful addition to any home. If you love the look of light and natural wood, real wood doors are a great way to achieve the look. Even though there is some maintenance, it is doable by taking a couple of days to properly treat the doors by sanding and sealing with a quality sealer.  Of course, if you prefer no maintenance and can find a look to suit your home, a composite or engineered wood door may be a better choice. For our home, it is worth it for the right color wood to have the real thing! Here’s how and why we chose wood doors for our coastal home.

wood doors

Is the maintenance of real wood doors worth it?

We get this question a lot. Because we love the look of natural wood for our coastal-style home, we took a chance on real wood doors. Prior to making the decision, we considered a composite-type door that is made to look like wood, but ultimately, we didn’t love the color choices available.

Pros and Cons of Wooden Exterior Doors

While contemplating the decision on wooden doors, we made a list of pros and cons that would help us make up our minds. Some of the pros were that wooden doors would add character and architectural interest. It also gives homes a curb appeal, which can increase the value of the home. Wooden doors also have a timeless, classic quality that will last for generations.

Some of the cons: weather elements will have an impact on wooden doors, especially if your front porch receives a lot of direct sunlight or moisture. They also require periodic maintenance to keep their look.

Factors to Consider for Maintaining Wood Doors

When choosing wooden exterior doors, here are a few more factors to consider:

  • Which direction does your home face?
    • North/Northeast facing home will not require as much maintenance, and you may be able to go several years between refinishing.
    • South/Southwest facing homes with wood doors will likely require more frequent refinishing.
  • Which type of wood is best?
    • You’ll want to choose a type of wood that holds up best. One durable wood choice is mahogany. It’s one of the most popular choices and it’s what we choose. Mahogany is stronger and more durable than other wood counterparts, plus it has a pretty grain.
    • Other durable choices include white oak, cedar, and poplar.
  • What level of protection from the elements do you have already?
    • Does your home have a deepset porch to protect it from sun and rain? This may help preserve the color of your wooden exterior doors.
    • Do you have larger vegetation in front of your doors to provide shade and protection? This would be another way to keep that long-lasting look.

Our Refinishing Process

For wood doors, you will be likely be doing some maintenance. In terms of preservation, our mahogany doors have only had clear varnishes to preserve the natural color of the wood for a more coastal style. Due to our Southwest-facing home in a southern, humid climate, our doors require sanding & sealing every 1-2 years to help restore damage from sun, mold, and moisture. Here’s the process we used.

Sanding

sanding wood door

When you purchase new wood doors, they will only require light sanding. Once your doors get some wear & tear, you will likely need to to sand them a little more. I like using an orbital on larger areas, a sheet sander for smaller areas, and hand-sand those tiny grooves. For more damaged parts of the wood due to mold and/or cracks, 120 grit sandpaper works best, and use 220 grit paper on most of the door just to knock off the old finish. This process isn’t difficult, but can take some time. By working in small sections, a little bit at a time, this task doesn’t feel too daunting.

Sealing

General Finishes Exterior 450 Varnish in Satin Finish applied to Mahogany Wood Doors

I’ve tried a few different sealants and here is my experience.

Spar Urethane: This protects wood exposed to sunlight & moisture (it’s used for boats) – I have used Rustoleum & Minwax. Both preserved wood for about a year. I only did 2 coats and did not love the more orange tones that these brought out in our doors.

General Finishes Exterior 450: This provides less coloring of the wood; I applied 4 coats, allowing the sealer to dry completely between coats. I chose the Satin Finish & love the color/sheen combo. I will update you as to how it holds up but so far, I love the look and durability. This product goes on with a milky look that you can somewhat see in the photo above, but it dries beautifully.

Here is the final look!

This treatment on our real wood mahogany doors really works to achieve that perfect natural, raw coastal wood. What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much! I had a good teacher to learn how to just go for it!!

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