I originally posted this to another group and was advised to post here
So I'm thinking of buying a big 2" thick slab of kiln dried american
I will cut it up and make a front door for the house but this door
fully exposed to the elements here in the UK.
Can you recommend/suggest extra treatments to ensure it will not warp
or fall apart?
Arthur - I will assume that you know what you are doing in the shop to
make your own door, or you wouldn't be buying slab wood to make one.
The art of making a door in the shop using standard tools would be
difficult to cover here on the ng.
I do a lot of door replacements and refinishing. So I will tell you
what I think as a finisher of the doors I install and refinish. I am
also thinking that you probably want some kind of clear finish as
opposed to paint, otherwise you should paint and be done with
In your area (thinking specifically about weather conditions) you
might want to go to a company that specializes in door replacement and
ask them what they use.
In a nutshell, our biggest threat here in the Southern part of the
country is UV exposure. It dries out and cooks the wood and makes the
wood shrink and shed the finish. So you need to protect the wood from
UV to begin with, seal it against moisture, but have a finish that
soft enough to expand and contract with the wood movement but again,
hard enough to be abrasion resistant.
Tall order. You should get a ton of opinions on this one.
The doors that seem to last the longest are the ones that are stained
with a pigment stain (even a light coat) and then finished with a good
UV resistant finish. In an interesting discussion with one of the
door vendors (Thermatru) their research proved this to be so.
Apparently the pigmented stain will to some extent as as a sublock to
the grain. Makes sense to me.
I would only use a renewable finish such as some of the newer exterior
rated conversion lacquers that you can renew without stripping. If I
were you, I would renew the finish on the outside and edges every five
- seven years or so, and the inside as needed. Following that, your
door should last just about forever and look great. I know many of
the doors I refinish haven't had a lick of finish put on them in ten
or more years, but they do look like crap and the wood is starting to
The best advice on a new door finishing procedure would be to seal the
top and the bottom. I see more warped doors that have bare edges than
you could imagine. Finishing these edges is something that everyone
knows about, but few get to see how important it is do it.
Finish the door with a spar varnish. Re-finish every few years. Visit
a marine\boat building supply house and you can get the real stuff. UV
protection additives are also a worthwhile component so if they have a
version with those, it is worth the extra. Even minimal sun exposer,
say filtered through fog, can still be very damaging over time.
Expect your door will cup and warp, and possibly split without proper
protection. Sunlight is very harsh on wood, and cherry is especially
sensitive. A painted door of some other wood (white oak, teak,
chestnut, etc) will hold up much better to UV and handling of moisture
issues. The cherry will make a better table, chest, or cabinet.
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