If you got your hands on an old period front door, it’s too sad to just let it go to the junkyard. Instead, you can search for “furniture repair near me” and hire professionals to fix and restore it for you. Otherwise, you can take things into your own hands and restore the door to their original beauty. Here’s how you can do it.

The Process

  1. Budget and time – Your old front door probably has the sign of years of use embossed on it. The surface may have little to no varnish with flakes coming off. It may have dried out and become very rough due to the constant assault of elements like the sun or rainfall.

However, repairing and restoring the door to its original beauty isn’t a daunting task as long as you have the right approach. For this project, you can restore the old antique door to its glory by just investing around $50 and around half a week’s time. It’s way better than replacing the old wooden door with cheap mass-produced metal or fiberglass door.

  1. Remove the door from the hinges – To restore the door you need to remove the door from its hinges. Solid wood doors can be extremely heavy and it’s better if you can get someone to help with this. Open the door and add support by laying a few wood blocks under the bottom edge. Tap the pins on the hinges from the bottom with a flat head screwdriver. When the pins get removed, the door should slide out of the hinges. Grab it and lay it flat on your sawhorses.
  1. Remove old hardware – Before you start to restore the old door you need to remove the old hardware. That includes everything from the door handle and kick plate to the knocker and deadbolt cylinder. If you move on to the restoration process without removing the hardware, you’ll get a poor finish at the end.
  1. Sand it down – make sure the door is resting on your padded sawhorses and make sure it’s perfectly level. Now get an orbit sander with 80 grit paper and remove the residual varnish from the surface. Remove all the remains along with the sunbaked wood flakes. After the varnish is removed, sand down the door again with 100 grit paper and then follow up with a 120-grit paper. You don’t want to go any finer since it will start closing the pores on the wood. That would prevent the finish from getting absorbed and sticking to the wood surface.
  1. Scrape off the moldings – Now it’s time to get rid of the molding on the door. Use small razor-sharp scrapers and reach into the corners. Small and sharp scrapers can also make their way around narrow profiles and you’ll also have an easier time reaching over the end grain of the raised panels.

These are places where a rotary sander just can’t reach and require quite a bit of elbow grease. Pull the scraper along the grain and use both hands to apply a gentle, even downward pressure. These reduced chances of accidental slips that may gouge the wood. You can use blades of different shapes and sizes for the task. While teardrop blades are great for narrow crevices, trapezoid blades are great for flat surfaces.

  1. Manually sand the profiles – As mentioned above, you have to resort to manual labor while working around the profiles. Get a 100-grit sandpaper and fold it in thirds. Press the folded paper into one section of the profile with your fingertips. Now rub it back and forth with long strokes over the length of the molding. For places that your fingers can’t reach, use a sanding sponge. After you’ve sanded the profiles and inside corners, brush off the dust and vacuum it thoroughly. If there’s any dust left on the wood, it may mess up the finish.
  1. Seal the door edges – With the door on the sawhorses, seal the bottom and top edges of the door with a single coat of finish. You can also apply a second coat if you want. However, these parts are the least exposed to the elements and aren’t visible, and don’t need those extra coats of finish.

Instead, you can save on drying time by just applying a single coat of finish on the edges and putting the door up the hinges. Reattaching the door to the hinges allows you to apply the finish with ease. If you apply the finish before hanging the door on the hinges you risk damaging the finish.

  1. Apply the first coat – Soak a varnish paintbrush for a couple of minutes in a paint thinner and shake off the excess. Pour a finish of your choice in a clean bucket and dip the bristles of the brush around a third of the way. Start applying the finish on the panels and move on to the surrounding moldings. After you’re done with the panels and surrounding moldings, move on to the horizontal rails and follow up with the vertical stiles. If you accidentally apply some finish on the dry surface out of the above-mentioned order, wipe it off immediately. Allow the door to dry up overnight. Don’t close it.
  1. Finishing touches – After the finish has dried off, gently manually sand the door with a fine 220 grit sandpaper. Dust it down and wipe it off. Now brush on the second coat of finish according to the above-mentioned order and let it dry overnight. After it dries up, sand it down with 280 grit paper and put on the final coat. Once that dries off, you can reinstall the hardware.


Restoration is a tough job if you have a bed, couch, or other such large furniture. However, restoring a front door to its original beauty isn’t very complicated and can be done by beginners. If it gets overwhelming, you can always search for “furniture repair near me” and hire professionals to do it for you.