April 23rd, 2017 Front Doors
Out of all the interior and exterior painting projects, front doors are the one project that need constant TLC.
But why do front doors fall apart so quickly?
There are a few things contributing to how often front doors need a little face lift.
1. High traffic. Front doors typically get the most traffic in the whole house. Thus, it is no surprise that front doors need constant maintenance.
2. Weather. Extreme heat and cold, humidity, and rain are the main causes of wood expansion and contractions, which causes front doors to crack and swell up. Needless to say, New Orleans weather with its high humidity, heat, and rain does not offer ideal weather conditions for any front doors.
3. Direct sun light. Most front doors are constantly exposed to direct sun light, which hugely wears on the top coatings of your front doors. This is specially true if your house faces East, West, or South.
4. One side is climate controlled and the other side is exposed to the elements. This change in climate condition on each side of the front door has a significant impact on its longevity as the door react differently inside and out.
Now let’s talk about your different coatings options and maintenance.
There are two kinds of coatings: stains with varnishes and paint coatings.
1. Stains will allow you to appreciate the natural beauty of the wood grain (Spanish cedar or mahogany doors are ideal candidates for a stained look). The other good aspect to stains is that they enhance the wood grains while giving you the option to add any color you desire. Stain itself does not seal or protect though. Staining is only the first 50% of the whole process. The other 50% is all about protecting the front doors with a good clear coat. Keep in mind that correct application and a quality clear coat are the keys to your front door’s durability. For any exterior surfaces you must use a varnish, not polyurethane, as your top clear coat. We recommend marine grade varnish as is the most reliable kind of varnish available.
A little digression: it is important to know the difference between polyurethane and varnish. Polyurethane is mainly used for indoor projects like furniture or stained cabinets and woodwork as it does not hold up to extreme conditions. Typically polyurethane will crack and peel very quickly on any outdoor surface. Varnish, on the other hand, has higher contents of resin (or glue) and pigment than polyurethanes, resulting in better light and UV rays reflectivity. In other words, it withstands weather and other elements’ wear and tear much better.
Now let’s get back to our topic…
The last aspect to consider is the varnish sheen. The rule of thumb with sheens is that the higher the gloss, the higher the resin content, which means that your front doors will last longer and require less maintenance since it will take every day wear and tear better and will stay cleaner. Some people, however, prefer low sheen varnish because it can be more ascetically pleasing. Low sheen varnishes need to be reapplied about 25% to 30% more often than with high-gloss varnish.
Stained and varnished doors will require more maintenance than painted doors. Typically, stained doors have to be recleared every 12 month (4 full seasons). The good news is that applying a few coats of clear is rather a small and easy project.
In a nutshell, stain enhances the wood grain and varnish protects.
2. Paint will completely seal the wood which hides and eliminates the wood grain by filling in the wood grain. Paint is the best kind of coating protection against the elements and weather. Painting your front doors will give you the option to choose between hundreds and hundreds of colors. When it comes to maintenance, you will need to repaint your front doors every couple of years so long you use high quality paint and supplies. It is a lot less maintenance than a stain door, which you would have to recoat every year.
How to decide between stain and paint?
It depends on if you want to hide the wood grain or if you want to enhance it. It also depends on whether you want to truly protect your door or if you are looking to maintain it pretty often.