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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. 


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