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How to Stain a Wood Door

Tuesday July 31st, 2018

Give your sliding door an extra coat of class. 
Sliding wooden doors are an exciting trend right now, but these throwback entryways come from long line of classic country charm. And while they’re relatively easy DIY projects, there’s at least one thing just about anyone can do to put their own personal touch on a new sliding wood door: Stain it!
We’re here to get you started with some ideas for how to stain your wood door. We’ll also give you a step-by-step walkthrough on how to get a natural finish that either blends with your existing décor or stands out as a focal point in your room.

What you’ll need to stain a wood door:

  • Stain of your choosing
  • Stain tray
  • Polyurethane (semi-gloss, gloss, etc.) of your choosing
  • Staining pad/sponge
  • Gloves
  • Rag
  • A towel or surface to stain on
  • Sandpaper (120-grit recommended)

Step 1: Choose your wood door stain color

The first step on the path to staining wood doors is probably the hardest one. With so many natural wood door stain colors available, it’s hard to determine which one is best or closest to your existing wood décor. If you’re not certain on a match, you can take a piece of varnished wood with you to your local paint shop, and they’ll help you match it in their computer’s stain hue database. If you can’t take a piece of wood to the store, then bring the store to your home (well… not literally) by grabbing some stain samples to compare at home at your convenience.

Step 2: Remove the door

Whether you want to paint your sliding wood door or any ol’ hinged door, you’ll need to remove it from the wall and dismantle the pieces attached to it – knobs, hinges, handles, and weather strips. For the smoothest stain, keep your door laying flat so that you don’t have potential drip-dry streaks.

Step 3: Sand the wood door surface

In order to apply an even, rich coat of stain, you’ll need to sand your wood. For this purpose, 120-grit sandpaper does a great job. Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain. You can do this by hand -- or save yourself some time by getting a sander for an easier, more seamless sand job!

Step 4: Clean shop = happy shop

You might be tempted to leave all the sawdust from sanding on the ground as you move into the actual staining portion of this project -- but don’t do it! Cleaning up after you sand will not only help you organize, it will also eliminate any potential saw dust from getting stirred up and deposited back on the wood, which could cause uneven staining and smaller, bumpy wood particles to cling to your stain as it dries.

Step 5: Open your stain canister

It’s time to finally crack open your can of stain and get to work on varnishing! Use a flathead screwdriver to pry open the lid. Also, make sure to let your staining pad drip some excess before applying your first coat.

Step 6: Get to staining your wood door!

As you begin to apply your stain, make sure your strokes are even and in the direction of the wood grain. If you get any drip runoffs, make sure to immediately wipe them up with a rag to prevent an uneven look.

Step 7: Finish staining and wipe “dry”

Once you’re happy with your coat of stain, grab that rag and wipe the stain. By wiping the stain, you’re increasing the dry time but, more importantly, you’re minimizing the risk of smudges or streaks that might hinder a clean finish.

Step 8: Let your wood door air dry

After you’re all finished and wiped down, it’s time to set the door upright against a wall. Be sure to place a rag between the door and the wall to prevent stain from transferring to the wall. Make sure to do a last check of the edges of the door to look for runs, smudges, or drips. Once it’s dry, it’s time to rinse and repeat the process on the other side of your door.

Step 9: Re-hang your door

Once you’re completely finished staining and drying, you’re now ready to reassemble any knobs and hinges before re-hanging the door – on its hinges or it’s railing system (if it’s a sliding wood door).

Finally, take a step back and admire your work and your newly-stained wooden door. Go ahead. You can even pat yourself on the back for job well done.  You’ve earned it. And now you and your guests can admire it for years to come!
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