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How to Finish Exterior Doors in South Africa

Photo of someone staining or sealing a door with a large natural hair paint brush.



The exterior door of your home is not only an essential element for security but also a crucial aspect of your home's overall appearance. With South Africa's diverse climate, it is essential to choose the right finishing method for your exterior doors to ensure durability and long-lasting beauty. In this blog, we will discuss various finishing techniques for exterior doors in South Africa, ensuring you make the best choice for your home.



Preparing Wooden Doors for Finishing


Before starting the finishing process, it is crucial to prepare your wooden door correctly. Follow these steps for optimal results:

Sand the door: Begin by sanding the door using around 180 to 220 grit sandpaper to remove any imperfections and open up the fibres. Do not go too fine, or you may close up the fibres and prevent your finish from adhering properly.

Clean the door: After sanding, use a tack cloth or vacuum cleaner to remove all dust and debris from the surface.

Apply a wood conditioner: For doors made of porous woods like pine, a pre-stain wood conditioner is recommended to prevent blotchy absorption of stains or finishes.



The Best Finishes for Exterior Wooden Doors


Selecting the appropriate finish for your exterior wooden door is crucial for its durability and aesthetics. The two main categories of finishes are:

Stains and clear topcoats: Stains add colour to the wood while allowing the natural grain to show through. They require a clear topcoat for protection against the elements.

Paints: Paint provides a solid colour and a protective barrier, but it hides the wood grain. High-quality exterior paints are ideal for doors exposed to the elements.



Finishing Guide for Stains and Clear Top Coats


If you prefer a natural look for your wooden door, follow these steps to apply stains and clear topcoats:

Apply the stain: Choose an exterior-grade stain and apply it evenly with a brush, following the wood grain. Wipe off any excess stain with a clean cloth.

Allow the stain to dry: Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for drying time, typically 24 hours.

Apply a clear topcoat: Use a high-quality exterior-grade polyurethane or spar varnish, applying multiple thin coats to build up protection.

Sand between coats: Lightly sand with 220 or 240-grit sandpaper between coats to ensure proper adhesion.

Allow the finish to cure: Allow the final coat to dry and cure for at least 72 hours before installation.



Finishing Guide for Paint


For a more durable and opaque finish, follow these steps to paint your exterior door:

Apply a primer: Use a high-quality exterior primer to provide a base for the paint to adhere to.

Allow the primer to dry: Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for drying time, typically 24 hours.

Apply the paint: Use high-quality exterior paint and apply at least two coats, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

Allow the paint to cure: Give the paint at least 72 hours to cure before installation, depending on the type of paint used.



How to Finish High-Exposure Doors


If your exterior door is exposed to harsh weather conditions or intense sunlight, you need to take extra precautions to protect it. Follow these tips for finishing high-exposure doors:

Choose a high-quality finish: Opt for marine-grade finishes or exterior-grade paints that offer UV protection and resistance to moisture.

Apply additional coats: Increase the number of coats of topcoat or paint to provide added protection.

Install weatherstripping: Add weatherstripping to seal gaps around the door, preventing moisture from seeping in.

Perform regular maintenance: Check your door periodically for signs of wear or damage and reapply the finish as needed. This may include light sanding and recoating with a clear topcoat or paint to maintain the door's appearance and protection.

Consider adding an overhang or awning: Installing an overhang or awning above your door can shield it from direct sunlight and rain, reducing the risk of damage due to exposure.



Protecting Your Exterior Doors in South Africa


Finishing an exterior door in South Africa requires careful consideration of the local climate and the specific needs of your door. By following this guide and selecting the appropriate finish for your door, you can ensure its durability and long-lasting beauty. Remember that proper preparation, application, and regular maintenance are crucial to protect your investment and keep your exterior door looking its best for years to come.

You can shop our full range of exterior wooden doors here, or browse our range of speciality wood sealants here for all your needs. 



Interior vs Exterior Doors - What's The Difference?

Interior view of open exterior double doors with large glass panes in the centre.



Doors are an essential element of any home or building. They serve as a passage between rooms, provide privacy and security, and form an integral part of your home’s aesthetic appeal. There are two main types of doors, exterior and interior, and while they may look similar there are key differences between the two you need to be aware of. 



Different Functions


The primary difference between interior and exterior doors is their function. Interior doors are designed to separate rooms within a building, while exterior doors are meant to provide an entry point to the building from the outside. Interior doors are typically thinner and lighter compared to exterior doors, which are heavier and sturdier. This is because exterior doors need to withstand harsh weather conditions and provide security, whereas interior doors are more about aesthetics and privacy.


Exterior doors often include barriers against the outside weather, such as a threshold and weatherstripping, to prevent moisture and drafts from entering the building. They may also have a peephole, a deadbolt, and a handle with a lock for added security. On the other hand, interior doors don't require these features and may have simpler knobs or handles for easy opening and closing.



Different Costs


Another significant difference between interior and exterior doors is their cost. Exterior doors are typically more expensive than interior doors because of their added features and sturdier construction. Exterior doors require a more robust frame, hinges, and hardware to withstand weather and provide security. They may also require special finishes or treatments to prevent warping, rotting, or fading due to exposure to the elements.


Interior doors, on the other hand, can be made from less expensive materials and may not require as much hardware or finishing. However, the cost of interior doors can vary based on their design, material, and finish. For example, solid wood doors may be more expensive than hollow core doors, and custom-designed doors may cost more than standard sizes.



Different Hardware


Interior and exterior doors also differ in their hardware. Exterior doors require more heavy-duty hardware to withstand the elements and provide security. This includes a sturdy lock, handle, and deadbolt, as well as hinges and a weather-resistant threshold. Exterior doors may also have a peephole, kickplate, or door knocker for added functionality.


Interior doors, on the other hand, don't require as much hardware and may have simple knobs or handles. However, interior doors can still have a range of hardware options, including decorative knobs, levers, hinges, and latches. The choice of hardware can also affect the overall look and feel of the interior doors, allowing for customization to match the décor of a room.


Different Materials

Interior and exterior doors can be made from a variety of materials, but they differ in the type of materials used. Exterior doors are typically made from more durable and weather-resistant materials, such as wood, fibreglass, or steel. These materials can withstand exposure to the elements, resist warping or rotting, and provide added security.

Wooden exterior doors are a popular choice for their aesthetic appeal and natural durability. They can be customized with a range of finishes, stains, or paint colours to match the style of the building. Wooden exterior doors also provide a classic look that adds value to a home and can last for years with proper maintenance.

Interior doors, on the other hand, can be made from a wider range of materials, including wood, fibreglass, steel, or even glass. Interior doors are often designed with aesthetics in mind, allowing for a range of styles, finishes, and textures to match the décor of a room. Wooden interior doors are also a popular choice for their warmth and natural beauty, as well as their ability to reduce noise and provide insulation.



Benefits of Wooden Exterior and Interior Doors


While there are many materials to choose from for both interior and exterior doors, wooden doors offer several benefits that make them a popular choice. Here are some benefits of wooden exterior and interior doors:

Durability: Wooden doors are durable and can withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. With proper care and maintenance, wooden doors can last for many years, making them a long-term investment.

Energy Efficiency: Wooden doors provide natural insulation, helping to reduce heat loss and lower energy bills. They also reduce noise transmission, making them ideal for use in bedrooms, home offices, and other quiet spaces.

Aesthetics: Wooden doors have a natural beauty that can enhance the overall look and feel of a home or building. With a range of finishes, stains, and colours to choose from, wooden doors can complement any décor style.

Value: Wooden doors can add value to a home or building by increasing its resale value, while they may be expensive upfront they yield a positive return on investment over time. 



Choosing the Right Exterior and Exterior Doors for Your Needs 


Understanding the differences between interior and exterior doors is essential when selecting doors for your home or building. Exterior doors require added durability, security, and weather resistance, while interior doors focus on aesthetics and privacy. 

Wooden doors offer several benefits, including durability, energy efficiency, aesthetics, and value, making them a popular choice for both interior and exterior doors. When choosing doors for your home or building, consider the function, cost, hardware, and materials to ensure that you select the right doors for your needs.

You can view our full range of wooden exterior doors here, and our range of wooden interior doors here.



How to Care for Exterior Doors in South Africa

Close up shot of raw wooden double door with both doors closed and light shining on the lower half.



Exterior doors are an essential part of any home's façade, and in South Africa, where the climate can be harsh and unpredictable, proper care and maintenance are critical to ensure their longevity and functionality. Neglecting your exterior doors can lead to damage, rot, and reduced energy efficiency, which can all result in costly repairs or replacements. Therefore, in this blog, we'll explore how to care for exterior doors in South Africa, including treating, cleaning, and repairing wood doors and choosing the best paint for the job.



How to Treat Exterior Wood Doors


Wooden doors are a popular choice for exterior doors due to their aesthetic appeal, durability, and natural insulation. However, they require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition. It’s suggested that you regularly dust your doors, thoroughly clean them every few months, reseal the door if its top coat becomes worn out and refinish it every 3 to 5 years, or whenever the finish becomes worn. To refinish a wooden door, follow these steps: 

Remove all the hardware - it can be easier to work the door in these initial steps by unhanging it completely. Thoroughly clean and then sand the existing finish off of the door, removing any old flakes of wood. Avoid going too fine with the grit of your sandpaper, or it may prevent the finish from sticking later. Small, hard-to-reach crevices and mouldings may require the careful use of a sharp scraper. 

Re-hang the door if you removed it, first sealing the top and bottom edges, and then apply your first coat of sealant. Apply the finish evenly, using a high-quality brush or roller, and allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Depending on the product, you may need to apply two or three coats, allowing sufficient drying time between each coat. Avoid applying too thick of a layer, as it can cause runs and drips, and sand between coats to ensure a smooth and even finish.
Wait a day for it to dry, then apply your second coat. After another day of drying, all you need to do is reinstall the hardware. It’s usually a good idea to give that some oil too. 

You can avoid having to repeat this process as often by maintaining the door’s top coat - avoid letting it wear down to the base layer by lightly sanding and resealing regularly (depending on how exposed the door is),

When treating your exterior wood doors, it's essential to choose the right products for your needs. Some wood preservatives contain toxic chemicals that can harm the environment and your health, so opt for eco-friendly products that are safe for you and the environment. Additionally, look for products that offer UV protection, as prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause wood to fade, crack, and warp.



How to Clean Exterior Wood Doors


Exterior wood doors require regular cleaning to maintain their appearance and prevent damage. To clean your wood doors, mix a solution of warm water and mild soap, and using a soft-bristled brush or sponge, gently scrub the door's surface, including the corners and edges. Avoid using harsh cleaners or abrasive materials, as they can scratch or strip the wood's stain or finish. After cleaning, rinse the door with a hose or clean water and allow it to dry completely. Avoid using a power washer, as the high pressure can damage the wood or force water into the joints and cause rot.

It's recommended to clean your exterior stained wood doors at least twice a year, depending on the climate and exposure to dirt and pollutants. Additionally, inspect the door regularly for signs of damage, such as cracks, peeling, or discolouration, and address them promptly to prevent further deterioration.



How to Repair Cracks in Exterior Wood Doors


Cracks or splits in exterior wood doors can compromise their structural integrity, reduce insulation, and allow moisture and pests to enter. Therefore, repairing them promptly is crucial to prevent further damage. To repair cracks in exterior wood doors, start by removing any loose or damaged wood using a chisel or sandpaper. Next, fill the crack with wood filler, using a putty knife or a spatula, and smooth the surface evenly. Allow the filler to dry completely, following the manufacturer's instructions, and sand the surface to match the door's texture. If the crack is severe or extends to the door's core, you may need to replace the affected section or the entire door.

When repairing cracks in exterior wood doors, it's important to use high-quality wood filler that can withstand exposure to moisture, temperature changes, and sunlight. Additionally, choose a filler that matches the door's wood type and colour, or opt for a clear filler if you're staining or painting the door.



The Best Finish/Paint for Exterior Doors


The finish is the topcoat that goes on top of the door and provides protection against weathering, scratches, and stains.

Enamel paint provides the absolute best protection for your exterior doors, but hides the natural wood grain and finish of the door. The next best option is a clear, high-quality varnish or polyurethane top coat. These finishes are transparent and allow the natural grain and colour of the wood to show through, enhancing the door's beauty and character.

Choose a finish that offers UV protection, as prolonged exposure to sunlight, can cause the paint to fade and peel. You can also opt for finishes that contain fungicides and mildewcides, as they can prevent the growth of mould and mildew, which can cause rot and discolouration.



Caring for Your Exterior Doors the Right Way


Caring for exterior doors in South Africa requires regular maintenance, including treating, cleaning, and repairing wooden doors, and choosing the right type of finish for the job. By following these tips and best practices, you can ensure that your exterior doors look great, function properly, and provide lasting protection against the harsh South African climate.

If your door needs a new top coat or complete refinishing, you can browse our full range of wood sealants here. Or, if your doors are in need of replacement, or you just want to freshen up your house’s look, see our full range of wooden exterior doors here.