Finishing exterior steel doors

I'm in the midst of a remodeling project (2+ years now lol) and are replacing the exterior doors. I went with a steel entry door from Taylor. They offer their doors in what they call "stainable steel " (http://www.taylordoor.com/products/entry/stainable/reg_reg /). I've already finished one using two coats of Minwax Gel Stain and three coats of an exterior polyurethane. The results were OK. Since it's steel and not wood, the stain doesn't really absorb but rather sits on the surface. It's fairly difficult to get a nice even color.
I was thinking that maybe I could thin it and spray it in several coats to get a more uniform color (although I have no experience in spraying finishes) but the instructions for the gel stain explicitly say to do not thin. Does anyone have any experience/advice/ suggestions in the Minwax gel stains or finishing steel doors in general? The reason I didn't have Taylor prefinish the door is because SWMBO decided that none of the standard colors looked nice <sigh>.
thanks! Pete
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On Tue, 10 Jul 2007 07:07:12 -0700, Pete_MedSoft

I probably would not use a stain on a steel door. I either used rustoleum or auto paint (don't recall). I removed the window and hardware, lightly sanded the door, covered the hinges w/ masking tape, and applied three coats of high gloss paint sanding lightly between coats. I used two saw horses to support the door and prevent sagging. You may need to polish the (brass) hardware and protect with a spray lacquer. Every year I use auto polish and an auto buffer to bring back the shine, a 10-minute job. Twelve years later it still looks good.
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I am not sure why you would stain a metal door either. And as far as the metal primers go on these doors, any of them will "accept" an opaque stain. The opaque stains are little more (yes, I know the actual composition and colorants vary some) than thin paint that has different solild compositions.
Find a real paint store like Benjamin Moore, Sherwyn Williams, or any other honest to Pete paint store, not HD or Lowe's, and get their color charts. Different manufacturers use different color charts for metal paint, but there are lots of different colors you can get. Not as many as in a latex color deck, but still a surprising amount.
Buy metal paint, put on a couple of coats and you should get years out of the finish if properly applied.
Robert
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I'm using the gel stain to match the rest of the trim in the house. Also the stain "enhances" the embossed wood grain whereas with paint it doesn't have as much contrast. I was able to get a couple scrap pieces of the stainable steel from the manufacturer and did some test runs and we like the gel stain color the best. My issue is with trying to get an even finish on the steel.
Thanks for the all comments thus far.
lol at this comment:

Was the "honest to Pete" intentional?
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Personally, if you are dead set on applying stain to this door, I think you're starting off with the wrong product. Gel stains were created to help solve a few staining problems, none of which involve steel. I'd suggest finding a regular stain in as close a color match to what you want as possible. Since the application here is most similar to a toner, you're really going to have to spray it to get an even finish.
todd
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