Restoring the Doors
Current # of doors completed =
out of 38
All of the doors in the house were
hand painted to look like oak, but were in fact pine. This was
not an uncommon practice in the late 19th century. The
restoration of the doors in the house has been going on for over a
year now with no end in sight. There are always a few doors in
the basement undergoing the process shown on this page. This
is usually a side project that gets attention during the lulls of
other larger efforts. There
are 38 doors in total that need to be done. (God be with me!) For
the purpose of this page, I am going to use the Servant's Passage
door as the example.
Most of the doors in the house have
been cut to accommodate carpeting that was installed over the years.
This particular door was used in a different part of the house at
one time and had several inches removed from the top and bottom.
I found this door in the attic, covered with years of dust and bird
poop. (don't ask). I hung the door in the frame, and drew a line parallel with the
floor on the bottom and the frame at the top. I then cut the
door at marks and re-hung the door. This made it easy to
measure for the size of the pieces needed for the top and bottom as
they are now the same width on both edges. (sorry, if this
isn't clear, but there is no easy way to state this)
Next, I removed the original brass
hardware. The brass had been painted over with six or seven
thick layers of paint. Why? The center of this door was
plugged with a cork and painted over. Love to hear the story
behind that one...
Taking the measurements from earlier,
a new extension plate was installed using biscuit joints. I
used a planing machine to match the width of the wood. The
joint was then filled with wood filler and sanded off, making a nice
The same was done for the top edge
of the door.
I re-hung the door one more time to
ensure that it fit the door frame properly. I placed pieces
flooring under the door to make sure it will swing freely when the
new floor is laid.
The old hinges were made of cast iron and were quite
a bit thicker than the new decorative brass hinges we intend to use
throughout the house. This requires a custom wooden shim be
installed to make up the difference in thickness so that the new
hinges sit flush against the edge of the door and work properly.
(Note the inevitable Home Depot receipt on the floor, these are
quite common around here, that's for sure...)
A little wood glue and a couple tiny finishing nails
work great here. The visible edge is then filled with wood
filler and sanded off. Nobody will ever know...
Now it is time to sand, and sand some more. I
used three different grades of sandpaper and wood filler between
sandings to get the surface very smooth.
The door is then coated in primer and lightly sanded
again. Note the other doors taxiing on the runway. My
work is never done. Now we get to flip the doors and do it
And now begins
the Faux Graining process...
The next step is to paint all of the flat surfaces
with an oil based enamel paint. I use a basic Almond color as
After the Almond base coat was allowed to thoroughly
dry, I taped off all of the non-flat surfaces (the moldings) using
blue Painter's tape.
a healthy coat is applied to all of the trim molding.
Once the Gel Stain is completely dried, The tape is
removed. More tape is then applied around each of the panels
that will get grained. This is to protect the alternating
panels from any overlap.
Using a brush, a coat of Gel Stain is painted on the
panel to be grained.
Using a graining comb, the Gel Stain is combed along
both long edges of the panel.
A graining tool is then used with a slight rocking
motion to create wood-like patterns.
This picture shows a small Graining Comb being used
to touch up some mistakes. The nice part about using Gel Stain
is that it is very forgiving and allows for easy touch-up while
This shows what a grained panel looks like when
After allowing the stain to dry for 48 hours, the
tape is removed. New tape is applied to protect the grained
panels and the rest of the panels go through the same process.
Here is the same door, now fully grained.
Pretty cool eh? Once again, the stain is allowed to dry for 48
hours and the door is flipped over and the whole process is
Using the same Gel Stain product we now begin the
tinting process. I have found that doing this in a couple thin
coats gives a much more realistic appearance than one thick coat.
This is applied following the grain patterns.
This is what the panels look like after the first
coat is applied and allowed to dry. I generally wait a full 24 hours
(in dry weather) before applying another tinting coat.
This is what the panels look like after a second
coat. This is the tone I was trying to achieve.
From this point on the finishing process is just like
any regular piece of wood. I use two coats of Minwax
Satin Polyurethane. If the finish is too shiny, it won't look
The final step before hanging is to put on all of the
restored brass hardware.
This is a picture of one of the doors completed.
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