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How to Refinish a Solid Oak Wood Door Over a Previous Finish

Refinishing any door sounds like an arduous task doesn’t it? The thought of stripping the old stain and finish, sanding the wood, cleaning the wood and then re staining a wood door is a lot. I’m here to show you how to refinish a wood door the easy way in just a few hours.

This is my mom and dad’s solid Oak wood front door. It’s beautiful. It’s heavy. It’s ornate. It’s a statement piece. It’s also seen better days.

Oak wood door

It doesn’t look terrible. If you look closely you and especially around the door handle you will see lots of weathered wood and areas where the sealer and stain have faded.

Before I get too far into this tutorial, let me share that my parent’s wanted me to refinish the wood door and restore it with a protective coat so it will last many more years.

I am not giving this door a makeover but merely giving it a facelift.

Best part? I completed this makeover in a matter of a few hours!

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Supplies used;

  • Sandpaper- I used an angled block sander and fine grit (120 grit) sandpaper
  • Tack cloth and lint free cloths
  • Cleaning solution; 1 part water to 1 part vinegar
  • PolyShades– I really like this product because you can use it OVER an existing polyurethane finish
  • Foam brushes
  • Wire brush (if needed)
  • Painters tape
Vinegar and water cleaning solution
refinishing wood door supplies

How to Refinish a Solid Oak Door over a previous finish

  1. Remove the existing hardware if you are going to replace it. This isn’t 100% necessary if you are going to keep it, but it will be easier to sand and stain without it.
  2. Sand the entire door with fine grit sandpaper. Use an angled block sander for those hard to reach areas.
  3. Clean with a 1:1 part vinegar to water solution.
  4. Use a tack cloth or lint free cloth to make sure the surface is free of any debris.
  5. When the surface is completely dry, apply stain or polyurethane and follow the directions for the product you are using.
  6. Apply consecutive coats if necessary.
  7. Apply hardware
sanding an exterior wood door
PolyShades Mission Oak

Tips to refinish an exterior wood door

I used 120 grit sandpaper to lightly sand the door since I’m not stripping the surface. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain. See more painting and sanding tips and tricks here.

Use a coarser sandpaper if the surface has a lot of wear and tear and finish with a fine grit sandpaper.

Some people will advise you that you don’t want to use a super fine grit sandpaper because it will close up the pores in the wood. My thoughts are if you aren’t stripping the wood, you will be applying a product over the previous finish anyway. So a fine grit sandpaper should be fine. This is good to know though if you are applying a product on bare wood.

Be mindful of the previous finish on the door and make sure it’s compatible with the product you are going to use on top of it. I talked extensively about this in a post on how to choose the right type of paint. The particular stain product I used (PolyShades) says it CAN be used over polyurethane finishes.

Can you use this wood refinishing method on Oak kitchen cabinets?

Since I’ve published my YouTube video a week ago I’ve already received two questions about this. In a nutshell;

I don’t see why you can’t use this simple refinishing method on any solid wood surface including refinishing Oak wood cabinets. Just be mindful that you probably won’t be able to lighten the wood with this method. This doesn’t mean you can’t change the color. There are a handful of colored stains that can be applied over a previous stain to change the color.

Refinished Solid Oak Exterior Wood Door

how to refinish exterior wood door

Ta Dah!

Now, you’re probably thinking, “it doesn’t look that much different.”

Here’s the thing; If you look closely, you will notice it’s more evenly stained.

The biggest part? It’s been sealed again to protect the wood for future years.

refinishing oak wood door
refinishing an oak wood door

I hope this post has been helpful. It doesn’t always take a lot of effort to restore a solid piece of wood to it’s original beauty. Thanks for stopping by guys.

Lindsey**

How to Refinish a Solid Oak Wood Door Over a Previous Finish

refinishing oak wood door

Learn how to easily refinish a solid oak exterior front door with PolyShades stain and polyurethane. This is a great tutorial on how to refinish a wood door.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost 10-20 dollars

Materials

  • Sandpaper- I used an angled block sander and fine grit (120 grit) sandpaper
  • Tack cloth and lint free cloths
  • Cleaning solution; 1 part water to 1 part vinegar
  • PolyShades stain and polyurethane in one 
  • Foam brushes
  • Wire brush (if needed)
  • Painters tape

Instructions

  1. Remove the existing hardware if you are going to replace it. This isn’t 100% necessary if you are going to keep it, but it will be easier to sand and stain without it.
  2. Sand the entire door with fine grit sandpaper. Use an angled block sander for those hard to reach areas.
  3. Clean with a 1:1 part vinegar to water solution.
  4. Use a tack cloth or lint free cloth to make sure the surface is free of any debris.
  5. Apply painters tape if you choose to
  6. When the surface is completely dry, apply stain or polyurethane and follow the directions for the product you are using.
  7. Apply consecutive coats if necessary.

Notes

Be mindful of the previous finish on the door and make sure it’s compatible with the product you are going to use on top of it. The particular stain product I used (PolyShades) says it CAN be used over polyurethane finishes.

Use a coarser sandpaper if the surface has a lot of wear and tear and finish with a fine grit sandpaper.

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