First, I would spray. BUT, I know there are circumstances where that
simply isn't possible, or feasible.
Second, I am guessing that the bifolds are closet doors - yes?
Finishing inside a dark closet (yeah... go ahead... take a light) to
get the back sides of doors just isn't practical. It's too easy to
goof your surface up on bifolds, and getting in and out of a closet
while the finish is still wet is certainly one of them. Not to
mention the practicality of it. Also, with the doors in the closed
position it is very, very easy to get a run or ridge on the closed
panels where they meet. Those would come off.
As far as a regular door to a room, I still take those off to finish
them. It is too easy for a wet door to get messed up, catch dirt,
dust, etc. I don't have any problems painting/finishing the upper
parts of the doors, but don't like being on my knees to finish the
bottoms. if it is one or two doors, I will leave them on. If I have
to turn out the work, I take everything out to a garage, sunroom,
painting area and have at it.
This is a time where an oldie but goodie will shine for you. Remember
Deft brushing lacquer? It is easy to apply with a brush, pad, or foam
(if you get the right foam!) and since it has a longer open time you
can do a nice job if you are quick about it. The advantage here is
that you can get TWO coats easily on your materials in a day. I have
used this stuff on everything you can imagine including inside
bathrooms and never had a problem.
With this many doors, you could set up and start sealing them, and by
the time you finished it would be lunch time or after. Starting with
the ones you began with in the morning, you can easily come back for a
second coat after lunch. To get all 22 doors finished, you will
probably be doing this for a couple of days (at least) if you are
Since you are using pine, it can still be quite resinous around gnarly
areas, and can cause clouding in any finish. If this Deft is your
choice, they make their own sanding sealer, but Zinsser sanding
sealer works just fine. As with any finish, you need 2 coats on top
of the primer to provide good protection.
Are you sure you can't spray? If the weather was warm I could put all
three coats of finish on in a long day, and hang them the next. Hand
applying would probably take me 3 full days to get all three coats on
everything. Maybe more...
I don't know why you would wipe anything. Wiped finishes take too
long to build up to get to abrasion resistant finishes. To get to an
industry standard of 1 - 3 mil thick cured finish (depending on the
material) you would be wiping plain old pine for days and days. You
just can't get enough finish on the material per coat, and I don't
have a clue how many coats it takes to seal up something porous like
pine. And remember, you will have to warrant your work, so that means
water resistance as well as abrasion resistance. That means a good,
thick, durable finish.
Don't let your client talk you into poly/varnish/whatever he wants.
With a 6 - 8 hour recoat time for those finishes, stay in the lacquer
family. Poly, etc. is simply impractical in a production application
like this. You will be pretty busy as it is getting all 22 doors (44
sides!) finished with the correct appearance without waiting a whole
day to recoat.
I don't do it for a living but I have 5 pairs of French doors, 10 passage
doors, 4 flat closet doors and about 13' of louvered bifold closet doors. I
wouldn't *dream* of doing anything to them with removing them. And I
wouldn't dream of doing the louvers any way but spray. Removing also makes
it easy to do the bottoms.
When I do take doors down - if there are several the same size - I mark them
so I know where they go. I do that with a nail hole in the hinge mortice of
both door and jamb...one hole for opening #1, two nail holes for opening #2,
Women tend to be able to paint hanging doors better than men. Me,
personally, I'd rather take them off, take all the hardware off, clean
hardware or replace, and get them horizontal so the paint can flow. With
the doors on the jambs, there is no way (at least for me) to get them
painted without some run, or painting some seam together, or leaving some
glop somewhere that sticks out like a sore thumb on the first opening of the
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