Stained oak door
paint roller

Stripping Paint from Oak Doors

Written by David | November 20, 2023

Restoring older furniture can be tricky and very messy! But is worth every minute.

Hey!! I am David Cook, from Dfranco Painting and Wallpaper, in Huntley, IL. Today we are presenting a blog article on a project in Elgin, IL . Stripping paint from oak doors and restoring them. I hope you are a fan of these vintage wooden doors. The older the wood, the more character there is.

oak door before stripping
some doors just look better painted- but when you are dealing with older wood- 50 years plus- the older wood has so much more character to them they are begging to be looked at

The wood grain in these older doors have more patterns, variation, coloration, and are actually harder than the woods grown today.  There are alot of reason for that such as age, fertilizers, hybrid wood being used, locations, and climate to name a few.

Where to begin stripping paint from oak doors?

Stripping Paint from Oak Doors
here is a oak door, with paint stripper

Here is a door that has a few layers of paint on it, that we will remove. Few things to think about:

  • have proper ventilation!  Have a mask and air that can circulate where you are working
  • make sure there is enough room and nothing is in your way
  • cover the floors, you cannot allow the chemicals to get on the floor
  • make sure you have the time to do this- it is not a quick job
  • if the door has a lot of damage to it- you will have to do some repair work
  • do you want to keep existing hardware, restore it??

Let’s begin!

  • cover the area you are working in with heavy duty plastic. Protect the floor from drips, runs, spills etc.
  • have a work station ready. This means saw horses to place the door on, tools ready, not tripping over them at your feet
  • once you are ready, then you can start to remove the door hardware, handles etc.
  • place the door on the sawhorses
  • get your rubber gloves on- and then we can start to strip
  • spread the stripper on the painted surface
chemical paint stripper
here is a chemical paint stripper
paint stripper working the paint from the oak door surface
paint stripper working the paint from the oak door surface
  • as it is applied you will start to see the stripper in action
  • as the material starts to bubble you can start to scrape the paint from the door with a scraper and wire brush
removing paint stripper and paint from oak doors
removing paint stripper and paint from oak doors
stripping paint from oak doors
stripping paint from oak doors

The paint is off the doors!

After the paint is stripped from the doors, there are some small areas that have residue from the layers of paint in the small areas as well as wood grain of the door.

This is part of the course, usually adding some lacquer thinner and wire brush will pull it out, as well as steel wool.  It may take longer to get the paint from the nooks and crannies than to take the heavy layers from the doors had on them!

We could not quite get all of the paint off or all of the varnish. So after all was off that we could get, then the sanders came out.

As you begin sanding, start with 180 at the heaviest. Using a bigger grit such as 50 will tear the wood apart and leave gouges in the wood.

Work your way to smooth, getting up to 400 grit sandpaper.

As all of the paint is off the door, you can wipe any sawdust, use a vacuum to remove dust, then a tack cloth to remove any further evidence of dust.

In this picture we re-hung the door as it was needed for services being held at the church.

paint off the door
Paint sanded off the door

Stain and seal your door!

In these pics the doors are now stained, it will be tricky to match the color of stain from ? years ago along with some type of oil varnish that also adds a color to the surface.

Since the door is so large and stupid heavy (170 lbs.) we left it on site and have a few solid stain colors and just played chemist to get a color we wanted. Use a scrap piece of oak to get the color to what you want – don’t sample stain colors on the door you just stripped! The use of the inside of the doors works well also.  Our Color ended up with two types of stain- American Walnut and Mahogany.

We used a clear coat, Duraseal, manly used for floors. It gives great protection, sheen and durability to doors.

Here is a side-by-side of the oak doors of 100 years old, very painted and the the door we stripped of paint, sanded, stained and clear coated- can you tell which is which?

painted oak door
100 year old painted oak door
finished oak door after being stripped
finished oak door after being stripped, stained and sealed

What can kind of furniture can we restore for you?

As part of the cabinet painting and refinishing, the restoration is something that works well with the tools and process we already use in your home for painted oak, maple and cherry cabinets.

So, let us know how we can help with your painting, and furniture restoration so we can help you love the space you’re in!

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