Finishing Interior Wood Doors: A Guide

  • 2-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-500
What You'll Need
Wood door
Tack Cloth
Wood Finish

Finishing interior wood doors is an excellent way to highlight the natural beauty of the wood. Because unfinished wood is continually breathing, applying a finish will also protects the wood from warping due to the effect of moisture, providing a permanent seal.

Step 1-Choose the Door Material

You have many choices when it comes to a new door installation such as wood, fiberglass, even steel. Selecting wood means you desire a natural, earthy appearance inside your home. Before you begin, decide if you will use a wipe-on stain or a gel stain. The wipe-on type is more popular, but it can run if you are not careful. What type you use is up to you. Follow these simple instructions and you will have a finished interior door before you know it.

Step 2-Preparation

The wood door to be finished should be hung in place at least two days before you intend to finish it. This allows the wood to adjust to temperature and humidity conditions at their location. You don’t want to finish the door and then install it only to find that it has warped some. Pre-hang the door and allow it to adjust. Then remove it from the hinges and begin the finishing process.

Step 3-Surface Check

Make sure the surfaces to be finished are clean, dry and free of any foreign material. Check all six sides of the door – front, back, top, bottom, and each side. If there are any blemishes, dings or scratches in the wood, use sandpaper to carefully work them out, remembering to sand with the grain of the wood.

Step 4-Wipe Down

After completing any necessary touch-ups, thoroughly wipe down the wood door with a tack cloth or other lint-free cloth. This will remove any dust and/or debris left by the sanding.

Step 5-Primer

The first coat to be applied is the primer. This can be a clear stain (for a natural finish) or custom tinted to add an element of color to the wood grain. If you intend on using an oil-based finish, make sure you use an oil-based primer. The same is true for latex-based finishes. Do not mix up the use. After the first coat, allow it to dry fully, check for consistency and smoothness, and then apply a second coat of primer.

Step 6-Finish

After the primer, it is time to apply the finish. There should be a minimum of two coats. Apply more to give the wood a deeper hue, but that is optional. Remember, the finish protects the wood as much as it highlights it. Also, cover every side of the door, including the sides, top and bottom, and, as with the primer, allow each coat to dry thoroughly.