At RealCraft, we love solid wood doors a lot--they're our favorite woodcraft to make, and we've been making them for decades through our carriage door and custom business, right through to the present day. Some of the most common questions we get asked are about door maintenance for exterior doors. Since these doors are exposed to the elements, they do require more maintenance than their indoor counterparts. So here's our entry door care guide, with tips for how often to maintain each aspect of the door, from finish to hardware.
Dust it weekly
Removing surface is a quick, easy way to keep your door looking its best. Also, brushing away any cobwebs or spiderwebs is smart because you don’t want spiders nesting nearby (gross). Plus, dust can contain particles that damage wood finish over time, so it's best to do a quick wipe-down regularly.
How often should you clean doors?
This step is necessary periodically, especially if you have pets or small kids, who tend to distribute dirt and other stuff onto doors. Deep-clean your door once a year or so, possibly more if you feel it needs it.
No matter what type of finish the exterior door has—urethane, oil-based, or paint—use a gentle cleaner and avoid abrasive cleaning agents and bleach. Harsh cleaning ingredients can damage wood finishes. Use a soft brush or cloth and diluted mild soap (such as castille soap) to clean your door. Rinse off the soapy water with clean water. Also be sure to clean handles regularly.
How to apply Osmo finish to wood doors:
At RealCraft we use Osmo wood finish products for several reasons:
- Osmo uses oils and waxes to penetrate the wood and seal it at the same time
- Oil-based finishes won’t peel, crack, flake, or blister like urethane based finishes
- No sanding is needed to touch up/reapply Osmo, so doors finished with Osmo are much easier to maintain over time
- The natural plant oils and waxes result in a satin sheen that looks beautiful and retains the wood’s natural character
- Osmo is non-toxic once dry, making it a reliable choice for families with small children and pets.
The method of application may vary slightly depending on the product type, but in general, Osmo finishes can be brushed, rolled, or applied with a cloth. It is important to allow adequate drying time per the instructions on the can. If you order a door from us unfinished, please let your door acclimate to its new surroundings for a few days—no longer than five days—before applying finish to it.
How often to top up Osmo finish
While Osmo is much easier to reapply, it does need to be reapplied more often than urethane finishes. Urethane finishes have to be completely sanded off and you have to start all over again, but rejuvenating with Osmo takes much less time and effort. We recommend you reapply Osmo to your door at least once every two years—simply roll, brush, or apply a single coat with a cloth and allow the product to dry completely. If you live in an environment with extreme heat, reapplication should be more frequent.
Place the door under a protective overhang
If your door is exposed to direct sunlight, we highly recommend installing a protective overhang—a portico, awning, or other covering that projects out. This will minimize sun exposure, preserve the finish, and also keep the wood from fading or darkening. It’s natural for many wood species to fade or darken somewhat with time, but sunlight can lead to a washed-out look that isn’t what homeowners want. You should also use a wood finish with UV protection to minimize color changes.
Check and adjust weatherstripping
The weatherstripping in RealCraft doors is adjustable, so you should be able to use it for many years without needing a replacement. If your weatherstripping is not adjustable, it's still relatively simple to take the old stuff out and replace it. You can tell when it needs replacing by kneeling down and checking to see if there's a gap between the door and the threshold--if you can see sunlight through it, it's time to change it. Remember that keeping a tight weather seal on your entry door can help you save money by reducing your energy costs! If weatherstripping gets worn down, it allows cold air to blow in during the winter, and lets cool air escape during summer.
Clean the hinges annually
Once a year, clean the door hinges. Keeping door hinges clean means that they’ll work better for longer. For the deepest clean, remove the hinges and soak them in an appropriate mix of soap and water--and vinegar for chrome hinges. Then scrub with a brush to remove surface dirt. Allow them to dry completely before reattaching to the wall and the door. Clean hinges operate more smoothly.
How often to oil the hinges?
We say to oil hinges once every two years. Depending on the type of hinge you have, you may need to remove the pin before oiling.