How to Restain a Door with a Quick & Easy DIY

How to Restain a Door with a Quick & Easy DIY

You have to love a quick and easy DIY that gives huge curb appeal in less than a day!

If you want to know how to restain a door, I have a quick solution that’ll work for most stained wood doors. You can give your dry and sun-bleached wood door a quick & easy makeover in less than a day. AND you don’t have to strip any of the old stain off. Even if the old finish is starting to crack and peel , this’ll work! Just a quick cleaning & sanding and your ready to start applying the new finish.

I had this door cleaned, sanded, stained twice, and dry in less than 8 hours. Yippee! I only needed to do the outside of the door, so I picked a cool spring day and just did all of the work with the door open and still on the hinges. If you plan it right, you can try and do the same.

Quick & easy DIY for how to restain a door without stripping off the old wood finish. Just give the door a quick cleaning and light sanding. You can leave the old finish in place. This front door makeover works over old stain! #stain #frontdoor
Before the update, this door was really making our house look sad.

I have not been paid for this post or given any product. I just love testing and trying new stains. I picked this one up for a recent project and knew it would work perfectly on my door. In fact, I’m pretty sure the professional painters I hired to do this door 3 years ago used this product.

The finish is much thicker and less transparent than a stain alone. I wanted to refinish my door with a product that was thick enough to give the door a uniform color and thick protective finish. The sun had bleached parts of the door more than others. This product covered up those light spots perfectly! AND it filled in some hairline cracks in the 30 year old molding. Yea!

Quick & easy DIY for how to restain a door without stripping off the old wood finish. Just give the door a quick cleaning and light sanding. You can leave the old finish in place. This front door makeover works over old stain! #stain #frontdoor
A closer look at the uneven color.

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How to Restain a Door: Before you get started!

Click to pin this DIY Door Makeover for later.

If you leave the door on the hinges, make sure it’s not going to rain on your wet door. Avoid doing this on a humid day too. You don’t want to accidentally trap moisture in the wood. AND know that if the sun is shining directly on the door, or if it is hot outside, the stain will dry faster. So, you’ll have to be careful and work quickly.

Please note, this product is a stain & polyurethane in one. It is a thick oil based product. Normal stains or water-based poly’s are much thinner and easier to work with. I picked this product for 4 major reasons: 1. It provides a thick protective finish, 2. The color is uniform over bleached wood, 3. You don’t need to apply poly afterwords, and 4. You don’t have to strip your wood first!

Quick & easy DIY for how to restain a door without stripping off the old wood finish. Just give the door a quick cleaning and light sanding. You can leave the old finish in place. This front door makeover works over old stain! #stain #frontdoor
Every 2 to 3 years this door gets this dried, sun-bleached, and cracking look. The Texas sun just beats on it!

If applied with a brush, per instructions, it leaves a finish somewhere between a Satin and a Semi-Gloss. Because it is thick and only semi-transparent it will not show wood grain as much as a stain. If you want your grain to show, you might want to use something else.

But you can get this finish to apply more transparent and with a matte finish. The trick is to dip a rag in it and wipe it on. I have used a rag to apply this product to a few pieces of furniture. It is a pretty finish, you can use this rag method on your front door too. Just be sure to work fast and not go back over any areas that have already started drying. It’ll get tacky faster using a rag, since you are spreading it thinner. But, don’t worry, you can do this!

One final note before I tell you how to restain a door, you could apply an exterior grade finish over this to give it some UV protection against the sun. I decided not to. I want to see how this holds up in the hot Texas sun. After tons of research on professional painting sites, I’m pretty sure that any stain with or without UV protection would need to have maintenance coats applied every year or two.

My door gets so much sun, I need to apply 1 refresh coat every two years whether it’s an exterior or interior grade finish. Acrylic exterior paints offer much better UV protection than stains. My HOA doesn’t allow us to paint our doors. But if they did, I’d definitely go with a paint that I could apply and forget about for 5 to 10 years. Oh well, this is a pretty quick maintenance job I can do with my yearly spring flower bed refresh. 🙂

If you decide you’d rather strip your door and start fresh, you can find my easy  DIY steps to stripping wood here. 🙂

So, let me show you how to restain a door with this quick and easy DIY!

Quick & easy DIY for how to restain a door without stripping off the old wood finish. Just give the door a quick cleaning and light sanding. You can leave the old finish in place. This front door makeover works over old stain! #stain #frontdoor

How to Restain a Door: Materials Needed

Quick & easy DIY for how to restain a door without stripping off the old wood finish. Just give the door a quick cleaning and light sanding. You can leave the old finish in place. This front door makeover works over old stain! #stain #frontdoor

How to Restain a Door: Easy Steps

  1. Open your door wide enough to be able to apply the finish to every spot. I put a chair behind my door to keep it from moving while I worked. If the sun is shining on your door, you may want to wait until it passes or open the door wide enough to get it out of the sun. The sun will dry the product much faster.
  2. Put a dropcloth down to protect your floors.
  3. Use wood cleaner to clean all dirt, grime, oils, and bird poo off the door.  😉
  4. Once it has completely dried, sand the entire door lightly with 120-grit sandpaper. Any old finish that is cracked or peeling should be removed and smoothed before applying the new finish.
  5. Wipe the dust from the door with a slightly damp rag.
  6. Once the door is clean and dry again, apply Polyshades per instructions on the container. I used a brush and applied the first coat to just the molding first. Working on small sections makes it easier to get an even finish.
  7. Now, keep checking for drips. This product is thick and can slowly make drips in areas that got too much product. I just checked the door every ten minutes or so while it was drying. I used a damp paper towel to smooth out any drips that I found. Just lightly drag the wet towel across the drip to smooth it out.
  8. Once the molding wasn’t tacky anymore, I worked from the top of the door down to apply the first coat on the rest of the door. I was careful while working around my door handle. You could use painter’s tape to protect yours.
  9. Apply a second coat using steps 7 and 8, after the first coat dries. Remember to always check for drips.

That’s it, that’s how to restain a door! Just leave that door open for 5 to 6 hours after the second coat to be completely sure it is cured enough to close. As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Quick & easy DIY for how to restain a door without stripping off the old wood finish. Just give the door a quick cleaning and light sanding. You can leave the old finish in place. This front door makeover works over old stain! #stain #frontdoor
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Looking for another quick and easy DIY for a common household problem? See how I refresh ugly old grout, the easy way.

You can restore that grout color without scrubbing. It's really quick and easy. You can even switch to a new grout color, with Grout Renew. My how-to video will show you how easy it is to update your grout color.

Or check out this easy DIY guidelight upgrade that works on any outlets No wiring or electricians needed!!

Simply unscrew your outlet cover and replace with this cover. No wiring, at all. This SnapPower Guidelight makes a great nightlight in the kids room or as a guidelight for hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms at night. I love this easy home upgrade!


Feeling inspired? Now that you know how to restain a door, get to it! Have fun and let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.

12 thoughts on “How to Restain a Door with a Quick & Easy DIY

  1. fabulous door, and the end results even more so. thanks for all the helpful tips.

  2. Our front door is in desperate need of a little TLC, but I’ve been putting it off because I really didn’t want to spend all day trying to sand it down first. It’s got all these little details which are a pain in the butt to try get done. So glad I saw your post Stephanie. Guess who’ll be touching up their front door this weekend 🙂 Weather permitting

  3. It looks so much better Stephanie. I also really hate those drips but I think today’s products are much better about that.

  4. Great transformation! Thanks for joining us again at Celebrate Your Story, have a great weekend.

  5. This gives me hope for my door! It’s badly dried out but the wood is so pretty that I want to try to save it. Can’t wait to try this!

  6. Beautiful! I am converting an old mantle into a bar, would this stain work for bar or tables?

    • Yes, it’s really designed for furniture. So it’d work perfectly. Just be sure to follow the directions on the container. Make sure to not brush over stain that is already drying. It’ll look gummy and need another coat. If your old mantle only has light scratches and fading, this product (https://amzn.to/2KscnoI) would be easier and work just as well. It just can’t repair the deep cracks and dryness my door had. Good luck. 🙂

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