A custom wood front door is eye-catching, and it greatly adds to the visual appeal of your home's exterior. In addition to that, they're also quite easy to care for—you can remove most stains by scrubbing them with a microfiber cloth. Keeping your door's finish in good condition is important, however, since it allows your exterior door to resist the rain that it regularly faces. Read on to find out the best way to keep your custom wood door in great condition.
Many custom wood doors will arrive pre-finished. While this is more expensive, it's often the desirable choice. Pre-finishing the door at the factory gives you a better idea of what the door will look like when it arrives, since the stain used before the finish gives it its color. If your custom wood door arrived unfinished, you'll need to stain and finish it yourself. Finishing wooden furniture is necessary to protect it from becoming damaged by moisture, which makes a protective finish, which is especially necessary for an exterior door. You'll need two brushes, fine-grit sandpaper (200 grit is best), a stain in the color of your choice, and a wood finish. Polyurethane is typically the best choice of finish, since it has the strongest amount of water protection.
Begin by sanding the door with your fine-grit sandpaper. If you notice any imperfections in the wood, you'll need to give those areas more attention — you want the surface to be as even as possible before you apply your stain. Sanding a custom wood door usually takes about thirty minutes to an hour. Once the surface of the wood is level, apply your chosen stain to the door using a brush. You'll need to wait for it to dry completely--follow the manufacturer's suggested drying time. Once the stain is dry, switch to using the other brush you purchased. You don't want to mix the stain and the finish. Apply the finish to the door with the brush, and then wait for the finish to dry. Once it's dry, you'll need to repeat the process to apply two more coats. Make sure each coat is completely dry before applying the next one. Applying more coats of finish increases your door's ability to withstand moisture.
When you're cleaning your custom wood door, you need to use as little water as possible. Even though the finish protects the wood from being damaged by water, it's still a good idea to limit how much water exposure it receives. In most cases, all you'll need to do for cleaning is to routinely wipe your custom wood door down using a microfiber cloth. The finish also protects the door from oil and other residue building up on it, so your door will rarely need deeper cleaning. If your custom wood door does become stained with residue that can't be removed with a microfiber cloth, use a very small amount of soap and water to clean the stained area.
Protect the Finish
Your custom wood door's finish can be damaged by acidic cleaners or ones that contain ammonia as an ingredient. Harsh cleaners can break down your door's finish quickly, so you should never use them on your door. Unfortunately, most glass cleaners contain ammonia. You should be very careful when cleaning the windows on your custom wood door—it's better to spray the glass cleaner on a cloth instead of spraying it on the windows directly.
Ultraviolet light will slowly degrade the finish on your custom wood door, so exterior doors need to be refinished quite often. Every month, you should drop a small amount of water on your door in order to test the finish. If the water soaks into the door, it's no longer protected from water. In order to refinish the door, you'll need to remove the current finish using a chemical stripper. It can take quite a while for the chemical stripper to break down the finish, so make sure there's no rain forecasted for the next few days. Afterwards, sand away any residual finish on the door and then re-apply three new coats of finish.
Overall, custom wood doors are easy to care for, since they rarely become stained. The most important task is to make sure that the finish doesn't wear away—an unfinished exterior door will quickly develop water stains. As long as the finish remains in good condition, your custom wood door will be as durable as it is beautiful.