How to Stain Exterior Doors

How to Stain Exterior Doors

Do you want to know how to stain your new front door?

Should you stain fiberglass doors? That’s completely up to the you! Painting or staining is definitely recommended with Masonite exterior doors installed by Karoly Windows & Doors. All prehung exterior doors with woodgrain texture come primed with a beige color that is ready to be stained. Karoly’s favorite brand of residential exterior doors is Masonite by Florida Made Doors. They offer custom exterior doors near Pinellas County.

Step By Step Guide to Staining Fiberglass Masonite Doors

Click here to download a printable copy of this guide.

Please read all instructions thoroughly before beginning. This is a guideline for painting and finishing fiberglass exterior doors. Masonite cannot evaluate all available paints, stains, or application requirements. Consult a paint professional or a local paint department/store for coatings best suited to the project. Select top quality finishes and follow all manufacturers’ instructions. Failure to finish the door slab as instructed may result in the denial of warranty claims for operational or performance problems.

Optimal Conditions for Staining Doors

Find a well-lit staining location that is dust-free, well ventilated and within the climate conditions recommended by the stain/top-coat manufacturer.

High humidity or a dry environment can drastically affect the drying of stain and top-coat which may alter the time for drying and application between/after the coats (follow manufacturers recommendation).

Material Needed to Stain Fiberglass Doors

What kind of stain do I need to stain exterior doors?
  • High-quality, opaque (nontransparent), heavily pigmented, oil-based stain (recommended)
  • Gel stains can also be used
  • Semi-transparent stains are not recommended
What kind of sealant do I need?

High-quality, exterior grade, uv stabilized polyurethane sealant (satin or low gloss)

Coatings & Accessories
  • Mineral spirits or acetone
  • Lint-free rags or cheese cloth (recommended)
  • 2” wide foam brush
  • Paper Towels
  • 220 grit sandpaper and sanding block
  • Scotch-bright for scuff sanding
  • Safety razor blades
  • One pair of rubber gloves
  • Stir sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Stain & Sealant
  • 2-1/2” wide china bristle brush
  • Hammer
  • Pin punch
  • Safety Glasses
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Pliers

Step 1 – How to Start

Doors can be stained either hanging in the opening or removed from the frame (recommended). Should you remove the door, take care to protect it from damage. Sidelites will need to be finished vertically. To remove the door from the frame, use a pin punch and hammer. Then, strike the hinge pin from the bottom until it pops up (for outswing units – hinge leaf must be removed from the door). Next, drive the hinge pin as far as possible with the punch. After that use a pair of pliers, grasp the hinge pin and, while twisting, pull the pin out. You may then remove all door hardware.

Store the door on a flat, level surface in a clean, dry, and well ventilated building. This will protect it from dirt, water and abuse, as well as allow air circulation. Only handle the door wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid any fingerprints / oil marks / etc. and do not drag doors across one another or across surfaces to avoid scratches hard to repair.

Step 2 – Preparing the Fiberglass Door Surface

IMPORTANT: Dust, debris and other surface contaminants can accumulate on the surface of the door. Therefore, to achieve best results and maximum coating adhesion, wipe/clean all surfaces of the door panel(s) and sidelite(s) thoroughly with mineral spirits or acetone. Make sure enough time is provided for the solvent to evaporate before proceeding to the next step.

Mask (tape) off all surfaces that will not be stained. Make sure to clean the edges, recesses and corners as much as possible. This will help to remove the residual contaminants which directly helps to get a better finish with no defects in the future.

Step 3 – Staining the Exterior Door

Before starting, and occasionally throughout the project, stir the stain until the texture is creamy. We recommend you try staining a small, inconspicuous area of the door to achieve the desired color. (Follow Manufacturers’ Instructions)

One coat of stain is required with the recommended (per manufacturer’s instructions) dry time needed between sides. Then the stain should be applied in the following order working on one small section of the door at a time.

Finishing Order:
  1. Panels and sticking (moulding profiles)
  2. Vertical center areas (mullions)
  3. Horizontal areas (rails)
  4. Outside vertical areas (stiles)
  5. Edge of door or stiles
how to stain exterior doors and paint exterior doors finishing order karoly windows and doors
how to stain masonite doors
  1. Put on gloves and prepare your materials.
  2. Stir stain thoroughly using smooth strokes, avoid creating bubbles and do not shake the stain container.
  3. Working in the specified order and individual section, dip the foam brush into the stain then use the rim of the container to release any excess. Use the foam brush to apply the stain onto the section. Using a cloth, rub the stain into the embossed woodgrain ensuring complete and even coverage. Cleaning with solvent in-between finishing can create adverse effects of combining different solvents present in the stain. Clean edges will help define the individual components of the door. If preferred, the subtle color variation found in wood can be replicated by selective removal of the stain. Using a rag or cheese cloth, gently rub the surface removing very small amounts of stain. Apply varying levels of pressure and work in the direction of the grain. Excessive pressure will remove too much stain.
  4. Once the door has been completely stained, check for any drips. While the stain is still wet, lightly brush the entire surface of the door with a china bristle brush. Use long strokes and work in the direction of the grain to even out color and achieve consistency.
  5. Let the first stained surface dry, per the stain manufacturer’s recommended drying time, before proceeding to the second side.
  6. If you prefer a darker appearance, repeat staining steps one through five only after the first coat is completely dry. Do not sand between staining coats.

Step 4 – Applying the Top Coat

Finally, the top-coat or sealant for your door is very important and required for weatherability. It protects the stained door from the elements and makes the door surface washable. Be sure that the stain coating is completely dry. Then apply a high-quality, UV stabilized, clear exterior polyurethane coating (satin or low gloss).

very-important-facts-karoly-windows-and-doors in tampa
  1. First, stir the top coat thoroughly using smooth strokes, avoid creating bubbles and do not shake the top coat container.
  2. Do not overload the brush. Dip the end of the brush into the coating and gently slide the flat side of the brush against the edge of the container to remove the excess. Note: We recommend that all 6 sides (front and back faces plus all four edges) be sealed to eliminate moisture absorption. The bottom of your door panel(s) may contain a factory installed weatherstripping (sweep) which is sealed prior to installation. Failure to observe this recommendation may void the warranty.
  3. Then, apply the sealant with even, gentle strokes. Press hard enough to flex the bristles just a little and then pull the brush gently along the door’s surface.
  4. As you apply the sealant, pull the brush quickly along the area two or three times lightly to even out the brush strokes.
  5. Next, allow the first coat to dry completely (follow manufacturer’s recommendations) and apply at least one more coat using the same steps as above. A minimum of two coats is required for complete protection and the door should be resealed annually to ensure lasting protection of the finish. Scuff sanding or light sanding may be needed
    in between the coats based on manufacturers recommendation. Do not sand the final topcoat.
  6. After both sides of the door have been top-coated (twice) and are completely dry, remove the paper and tape from the glass and protected surfaces.
  7. Under those circumstances, clean the glass with a window cleaner. Remove any finishing materials from the glass with a safety razor.
  8. Finally, place the door back into frame.
Do your have more questions?

Submit your questions, along with your name, email and phone number, using the following form and a representative will contact you within 2 business days.

Want directions for painting exterior doors? Click here!

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