Need to refinish a mahogany front entry door

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All,
Need to refinish my mahogany front entry door - would like to undertake this myself, however not clear this would be the best course of action.
Understand that finishing in place is not practical and I do not have a spare door to put in place while the door is off being refinished.
Spraying a large surface with multiple coasts of spar varnish in the house is also not a good idea.
Found a local shop that does this work - they remove your door to their shop for 7-10 days, and install a temporary door by screwing it to the door jam.
While that may be a secure way to install the door - am not receptive to having 6 screw holes left in the door frame.
My location is west Houston / Katy area.
Very much appreciate any comments / suggestions on how to proceed - including recommendations of craftsman / companies that are known to do reliable and high quality door refinishing.
What is the preferred method for installing a kick plate - glued, screwed, or both?
Is the kick plate installed before the finish is applied?
Thanks in advance for comments from the group!
Regards,
Doug
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On 6/7/2012 6:53 AM, Doug wrote:

You do not want to spray or apply spar varnish to the interior side of the door. Spar varnish remains some what soft and flexible to resist cracking. Basically the door will always have a bit of a sticky feel. Use it only on the outside surface. Apply the new coat of varnish with a brush or small roller.

So you caulk those holes and repaint.

Me 2

For what is worth, refinishing your door is probably going to be an "regular maintenance" procedure every 3~5 years and probably more often if your door faces west and or east and gets direct sun exposure.

Take our pick, normally screwed.

No.
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Holes are easily filled and finished. I'd not be concerned at all. Easier than posting a guard at the door at night. If these guys are pros, they will do a pro job in the end.

Screws, after the finish is applied.
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On 6/7/2012 6:53 AM, Doug wrote:

Call me dense, but it's not really a temporary "door" if it's screwed to the jamb, is it? I guess in order to get in and out of the house you have to use an alternate door for that 7-10 days? Wouldn't it be possible for them to hang a temporary door off the existing hinges along with your handle and lock hardware so you could actually *use* the thing, and so that you wouldn't have to repair any damage to the jamb afterwords? Doesn't seem that difficult to me...
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On 06/07/2012 08:16 AM, Steve Turner wrote:

Well, if all the hinge/latch spacing/types were standard...
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On 6/7/2012 10:19 AM, Doug Winterburn wrote:

And more likely the weather strip at the bottom of the door and perimeter of the door will not mate properly.
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wrote:

hinge and latch. Not an uncommon solution after break-in damage, or when a new door needs to be ordered due to other damage.
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On 6/7/2012 10:16 AM, Steve Turner wrote:

Call me denser ... 7-10 days to refinish a door??
Not even the entry door to the Vatican would take that long. I think I would look for another re-finisher.
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don't you have to mortise the hinges into the jamb for the door to actually work? it's just not a matter of filling a few screw holes in that case.
it's a temp door. why not leave the hinges in the jamb and mortise the temp door to accept the existing hinges. that way, the jamb doesn't have to change. the shop may have to occasionally by a temp door when the one they're using gets torn up too much from different houses.
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They may be redoing a lot of doors to need that wait time. Maybe they have only one stripper/strip tank, small shop, etc. Or maybe it's the One Guy Does Doors company. If they're anything like me, I prefer to let the refinished item air out for a week before putting it inside the house. Lots of people are becoming sensitized to offgassing, so that's one very valid (potential) reason for a delay.
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Your best way to find out is to ask them and get a formal quote for the specific job. Specific questions / considerations might include: Does the job include filling in the holes and how? You'd have to consider if the frame is wood or metal, stained or painted. It would seem the entire door would be refinished (wood protection) before adding the kick plate, but if there's a concern, get it written into the contract/work order. Do they do the take-down / rehang or do you? Have them describe the normal procedure, start to finish. If you need something different, get it written in. If the temporary is just screwed in, is it a door or a piece of plywood? How's security in that part of Houston? Might you have a back door or door to the garage that would fit the front door frame and you could stick the temp door there? Would a BORG special door and lockset fit into the budget? ..and on and on.
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On 6/7/2012 6:53 AM, Doug wrote:

It's a door not a work of art. Put a drop cloth on the floor. You can strip sand and varnish the thing in place.
Spray??? A paint brush will work just as well.
It's said necessity is the mother of invention. Are you finding it necessary to invent an excuse to get out of doing the job?
LdB
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Doug wrote:

Why not? ___________

There is no reason that it can't be finished in place and there is no reason to spray it. It isn't all that hard to get a good brushed on varnish finish. You DO need a *good* brush.
You also don't want spar varnish. For some obtuse reason, people seem to think that spar varnish is the ne plus ultra of varnishes. Not so. As I and others have explained many times it is a specialized varnish for a specialized purpose; namely, varnishing spars. It is good for that because it is softer and more flexible and spars bend. _______________

I would do it myself. I would go buy a decent marine varnish with an UV inhibitor, a good brush and have at it. You probably wouldn't need more than a quart.
Step one is sanding down the old finish; if it is varnish, no need to totally remove it, just get down to a good layer. Step two is varnishing...you flow it on and want the varnish thin enough to flow easily but not so thin (or applied so thickly) that it runs. You'll need to apply several (4-6) coats and don't do it in the sun.
I would not use a poly varnish; it is hard and durable but MUCH harder to refinish. I'd use an alkyd/phenolic varnish. I always liked Z-Spar (the "spar" in the brand name doesn't mean it is spar vanish). Here's one source... http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/search.do?freeText=z%20spar&page=GRID&engine words!6456&keyword=z_spar
___________________________

I'd screw it. With small, round head brass screws (assuming the plate is brass). ________________

After
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Thanks to all for the great advice!
I failed to mention that only the exterior surface of the door needs to be refinished - which will likely also require staining, as the lower portion has been exposed to water splashing off the front porch.
The area to be stained will have to be sanded to bare wood
As with the recommendation for varnish - is there a particular type / brand of stain best suited for this application?
Plan to use a kick plate - so the area to be stained is significantly reduced.
When selecting a kick plate - are there ready made kick plates for standard size doors, or is it better to purchase a piece of brass custom cut to size?
What is the typical thickness of a kick plate?
By finished in place do you mean leave the door on the hinges instead of laying down horizontal?
Showing my lack of experience here - however, would think that to brush apply varnish on a vertical surface is a sure way to get runs / sags.
After applying a coat of varnish - would it be advisable to provide some form of protective barrier in front of the surface to ensure nothing gets on / stuck in the wet varnish?
How can I test the existing finish to determine if it is varnish?
Armed with the benefit of experience from everyone's comments - will start the job this weekend.
Although not that experienced at wood finishing - do enjoy the work and the results if they turn out as desired. If not - sand and repeat!
Thanks again to all!
Regards,
Doug

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Doug wrote:

Why would you want to stain mahogany? If you think you are going to even up different colors between the bottom, splashed area and the rest then think again, you won't. Better to sand down the entire surface. If the bottom is blackened because the finish had worn away, bleach it. With wood bleach (oxalic acid). _____________________

Yes, there are ready made plates.. Have you checked Google? __________________

Jeez, who knows? Somewhere between a RCH and 1/2". Personally, I wouldn't use one, just a further complication and I don't kick my door. _____________________

Yes. You can't do the job in one day. You need several coats and each coat takes multiple hours to dry which means a temporary door if you take it off the hinges. Taking off is better but not very practical. ________________

Not if you apply it correctly...thinned so it flows together, not thin enough or applied heavily enough to run. ______________

Wouldn't matter, something will get stuck in it anyway. Any bugs will just brush off once they and the varnish have dried. __________________

Wipe it with lacquer thinner...if it dissolves easily it isn't varnish. Doesn't much matter what the existing finish is anyway as long as you sand it to bare wood or even just enough to get rid of oxidation and any yellowish, non-adhered areas
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The application instructions for both Z-Spar's Captain's and Flagship varnish state that wood in poor condition - which I believe is what I have - should be coated same as bare wood after cleaning / sanding, which requires the use of Pettit or Z-Spar Paste Wood Filler Stain on open grained wood such as mahogany, oak, ash, etc., followed by a generous covering coat of Pettit 2018 Clear Sealer and then the Captain's or Flagship varnish.
Understand these procedures are intended for marine use.
Are they required / recommended for use on the exterior of a home door?
Not clear what is meant by wood in poor condition - my door has no black areas, although the color is noticeably lighter in several areas - in particular the bottom 8-10 in.
The application instructions also state - do not apply the varnish on extremely humid days. This is about all we have in Houston this time of year. Is not clear what humidity level is considered excessive.
My plan is to leave the door on the hinges and cover the door opening with heavy plastic sheet taped in place as a barrier between indoors and outdoors while the door is open.
Hopefully this will negate the effect of excessive humidity.
Looking forward to getting started and a much better looking door!
Thank You for your most helpful comments.
Regards,
Doug

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Doug wrote:

The only purpose of wood filler is to fill the grain on wood with deep pores such as oak, mahogany, et al.
The only purpose of filling the grain is to have a perfectly flat, smooth surface so you can wind up with a baby ass smooth varnished surface. A really good, high gloss varnished surface is a thing of beauty. One rarely sees it because it takes a lot of work and time.
That smoothness can also be achieved - albeit, less rapidly - by applying several coats of varnish, letting it dry *thourghly*, sanding until no dimples from the recessed grain are visible and then applying additional coats of varnish.
Paste wood filler is made from finely ground silica - silex - mixed with a binder. If it is "natural" it has no or very little color as the silica becomes transparent when top coated. Colors can be added to the paste wood filler to stain and fill at the same time. Personally, I would neither stain nor fill an exterior mahogany door. I would apply 4-6 coats of varnish letting each dry enough so that it can be lightly sanded before applying the next. If I wanted a superlative job (I wouldn't), I would let the door dry for a month after the preceding; I would then sand til no sheen was left and apply at least another 3 coats. _______________

Uncoated...weathered...oxidized. Thorough sanding fixes it. _________________

Enough so the varnish doesn't dry. Don't know if varnish will blush like lacquer, kinda doubt it. Don't apply in direct sun either.
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dadiOH
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The Z Spar Flagship varnish and T10 thinner should arrive early next week - then the work begins!
What make and type brush do you suggest?
Reading other posts I know a natural bristle brush is required - although am certain that not all brands of this type brush are equal.
Some brushes have the end profile of the bristle bundle cut an angle - what is the purpose for this style?
What criteria determines the max. width of the brush?
Thanks again for your's and everyone's very helpful comments - now I just have to not mess it up!
Regards,
Doug

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Doug Hortvet wrote:

One with the finest hair possible. Not black bristle. White bristle is better, badger is even better. Best would be red sable (artist brush) if they were available wide enough; if they were they would cost a fortune.
I like a brush that tapers at the end and with the bristles flagged (split). Generally, the finer the hair the smoother you can apply the varnish. Of course, I sometimes use a chip brush, depends on what you are doing, how good a job you want and whether or not you are going to rub it down at the end.
http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid !13&familyNamedger+Hair+Brushes
http://www.antiquerestorers.com/Articles/SAL/brshvar.htm

That's a sash brush. Makes it easier to paint into corners.

The size of the area being painted. You wouldn't want to varnish a floor with a 1" brush, right? And you wouldn't want to paint a 1 1/2" face frame with a 4"brush (you could skew it though). For a door, I'd want a brush narrower then the stiles; probably 3". If it has panels with fancy edges a 1" would be nice too; however, I have a 1/2" red sable brush - had it for decades - that I can use for that sort of thing.
Have fun and keep a wet edge.
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dadiOH
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Door is sanded except for the areas bordering the trim i.e., small interior corners and convex molding surfaces, of which there are many - cannot get the sanpaper in the small areas without sanding down the edges.
What are your thoughts on the use of chemical stippers?
While the idea of using a finish removing chemical is not preferred - may be the only way to get to clean wood.
Thanks again for all the great advice!
Regards,
Doug

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