Home>Discussions>DOORS & WINDOWS>Antique oak entry doors - chipped and faded
4 posts / 0 new
Last post
Antique oak entry doors - chipped and faded

We have beatiful Civil War era solid oak entry doors. Several years ago we stripped and sanded off all the many layers of paint, hoping to reveal and stain the wood beneath. What we found was banged-up wood that had dark marks in several places, almost like burns. We felt it was too unsightly to simply stain and seal, though our architect disagreed - he liked the "character". The contractor applied a base coat of wood-colored paint to even things out and then stained over it. It looked good, and still looks good on the interior side.

The outside is another story. We've oiled the doors several times (probably not as much as we should) but they always seem dry, and the finish has faded. Worse, the dark stain has chipped off in places, especially where people have taped flyers to our door. We live in NYC, and the doors only get a little direct sun. What should we do? Sand it all down and do it again? Just sand down the chipped areas, restain them to match, then seal the whole door? I've heard Marine Varnish and Penofin are good. What do you suggest?

Re: Antique oak entry doors - chipped and faded

You say the 'stain' is chipping off- stain is in the wood so it can't do that. What you're seeing is the "wood colored paint" you mentioned delaminating. When someone's work fails I rarely recommend having them repair it- if they couldn't make it work the first time they can hardly be expected to do better the second time around. But in this case, a specialized finish was done (though I've never heard of staining over paint- perhaps this was a combination stain-finish coating? Is that what is coming off?) so here' I'd call the guy back and see what they think. After several years you'll probably have to pay for the work. You also mention oiling the door- was this their recommended maintenance? If so it should have lasted longer- leverage for at least some discounting on the price of a refinish.

I'd take the easy way out and source a period correct original door and replace this one. While this will likely be costly, you will end up with a door you like and one that does not devalue the house. Perhaps your current door could be used for some bartering- as a painted door it has potential, and therefore value. You could also fit a new period-style door while saving the old one so a future buyer could restore it if they wished, thus keeping the originality intact. If you do that store the old door properly where it won't warp of get damaged further. That would be the most economical solution plus it would likely be more energy efficient too.

Otherwise find a better restorer than the first guy. Restoration is a specialty field and the older the house, the fewer people there are who are truly qualified to do the work. Do some networking and find that person if you want to keep this door and bring back it's full glory. Some things can't be fully fixed but the right person can get really close and you'll like the results.

And this time, keep up the maintenance! That is a critical thing when saving a historical piece.

Good Luck!

Re: Antique oak entry doors - chipped and faded


Sorry to hijack your post - I also have an antique oak door that is chipped (especially around the door jamb) and needs some maintenance. It has an arch and a custom window, so I would really prefer to restore it rather than replace it. What oil do you use on your door? I have heard of linseed oil for gumwood, which I have throughout the interior, but I haven't researched oak yet. What are you using?

Many thanks!

Re: Antique oak entry doors - chipped and faded

A door is the entry to you home. I'd send it out to a real professional or find one that knows what they are doing. IT's needs to be stripped back down to bare wood and properly treated/oiled with the proper linseed oil mix, then refinished. In the short term, have a temporary door made out of maybe 3 or 4 layers of plywood.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.