Step-by-step Guide to Finishing, Painting or Varnishing a Door

If you have an old door that you’d like to redo, or you have bought a new unfinished door which is about to be finished according to your interior, then you are at the right place. 

When you still haven’t decided your interior colours, going for color-free doors is probably the best idea. Also, if you are planning to redo some old doors you have at home, after the process of stripping and neutralizing, they would be brought back to the original wood, leaving you a lot of space to do what you want with them, just so they fit your interior. 

So, let’s first go through the stripping process that will help you get off the paint from your existing door, which can then be painted or varnished. In addition, in case you buy an unfinished door, then you can skip this step. 

Step 1: Stripping Process

Even though there are plenty of ways to strip a door, the chemical stripping is one of the most common ones. When using a chemical stripper, it has to be handled with caution and the right equipment because it can have detrimental health effects if handled improperly. 

There are several steps that are included in the stripping process. If you let this be done by professionals like us, the job will be done effectively, without any damage to the wood. If you try to do it on your own, you have to be very well informed, because in case you do something wrong, there can be irreversible damage to the wood. 

In case you want to do the stripping process on your own, here are some of the basic tips to things you should pay attention to.

  • Always use protective equipment - We cannot stress how important it is to have all the right equipment before starting the process. It is essential that you use gloves and goggles and avoid any type of skin contact with the stripper. 
  • First test on a smaller section - Prior to applying the paintstripper to the whole door, you should try and test it on a smaller section to see whether your work will be successful or not. 
  • Use an old paintbrush to apply the paintstripper - Using an old paintbrush to apply the paintstripper will ensure that the stripper gets into all the corners, cracks or crevices. The paintstripper has to be evenly applied to the door and it should be left to take its time until there are bubbles and the paint starts coming out. 
  • Don’t scrape too soon - If you start scraping the paint too soon or too late, the result won’t be good. That’s why you need to wait just for the right amount of time before you start scraping.

Step 2: Painting the Door

Now that your door is free of paint, you can go on with the painting process. Before you fit the door, you can paint it. If the door is already fitted, take it off its hinges. This is important because as you paint the door, you have to make sure that you are applying an even layer of paint to it. 

Before you start painting, you should make sure that any cracks or crevices of the door are filled in. To do this you need to use a wood filler. After applying the filler, you should sand down some of the uneven or raised edges. 

There are three types of doors that can be painted and the technique and tips vary according to the type of door. 

  • Painting a Flush Door - Plain faced or flush doors are painted in a way that the paint is evenly spread across the surface. The areas of thin or thicker paint will be more evident on this type of doors, so paying attention to that is very important. Divide the door into sections and use vertical strokes when painting. The edges can be left at the end. 
  • Painting a Panelled Door - When it comes to painting panelled doors, the panels are those that are painted first, followed by the rest. The door edges are painted last. 
  • Painting a Glazed Door - Using a masking tape is a must when painting a glazed door in order to protect the glass from the paint. You need to start from the mouldings around the glass, go onto the top cross rail, the middle and the bottom rails. After painting the outer vertical pieces of the door, you need to paint the edges of the door at the end. 

Now that the painting is done, there comes the drying, which will require you to place the door in a ventilated area so it can dry out completely. Handles and hinges shouldn’t be placed until all of the paint is dry. 

Step 3: Stain and Varnish of a Door

Applying stain on a wooden door will enhance the door colours and also provide a natural look. The stain works well in enhancing the grain of the wood. 

What is important in this step, similar to the previous ones, is that you always need to be testing the wood stain before application. It would be ideal if you have a similar wooden piece where you can test some of the stain before applying it to the actual wood. 

Before applying the stain on the door with a paintbrush, you should remove the dust, just so there aren’t any remains on the door. This way the door will be smooth and ready for stain application. In order to obtain the best effect, you should follow the grain with the paintbrush and avoid doing an area twice. And even if this happens by chance, you should use a cloth and rub it over the door, to remove the excess layer of stain. 

After you apply the stain, then comes the varnish application. When it comes to varnish, it’s advised that you do the process in a well ventilated room or even somewhere outside to avoid any health issues that varnish can cause. 

To create a good level of protection, you should apply at least two layers of varnish. However, after applying the first layer of varnish, you should let it dry and rub the door with sandpaper. By doing this, you’ll create a smooth surface for the next layer of varnish by removing rough patches and bubbles. After sanding the varnish, remove the dust with a cloth and let it dry completely. After it is dry, you can go on and apply the next layer of varnish.


Now that you have gone through all the steps required to customize your door according to your interior, you can go ahead and implement the steps. If you get stuck somewhere on the way, you can always contact us to help you out!