4 Front Door Finishes and How to Choose the Best One

Bry'Ana Arvie
Written by Bry'Ana Arvie
Updated December 28, 2021
Family returning home from grocery store
Photo: Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

Finish strong with one of these options

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Whether your current front door is on its last leg or it’s letting more air inside than the window, you know it’s time to install a new one. And with a new, untouched door, you can finish your door to get the look you always wanted. Let’s look at some front door finishes you can use to really make your door pop.

1. Spar Varnish

When you’re trying to get your front door a new do, one of the most popular options is external varnish, known as Spar varnish. Its name comes from the marine or boating world, referring to the coating on the long wooden poles that endure the full force of the weather conditions thrown at it. 

Basically, this varnish knows how to take a punch. It’s a durable wood finish that’s formulated to offer protection from moisture and UV rays. Its elastic, flexible quality means that it won’t crack under the pressure of wood that’s constantly expanding and shrinking due to changes in the weather. Also, the UV inhibitors help keep doors protected from the sun’s UV rays. Spar varnish’s thick coating is what keeps moisture away from the wood’s surface. 

While this glossy sheen varnish will keep your front door protected, its application can be time-consuming. It needs eight to 0 coats with each coat being sanded in-between for it to protect your wooden front door as intended.  

2. Exterior Oil

Vine covered house with wood front door
Photo: Spiroview Inc. / Adobe Stock

If you’re looking for a quick fix that’ll let your natural wood and its grain shine through, consider an exterior oil finish with a combination of teak, tunk, or linseed oil. This finish seeps into the wood and protects it from moisture damage giving it a matte sheen rather than glossy. They’re also formulated with trans-oxide pigments that protect your door from the UV rays, and mildewcides that fight the good fight against mold and mildew. 

While this finish does bring out wood’s natural beauty, it’s not a long-lasting solution. You’ll need to refresh it annually to maintain its charm. And for some homeowners, depending on the climate, every three to six months. 

3. Epoxy Sealer

When you’re looking for the most durable solution available for your entryway door that doesn’t hide its gran, an epoxy sealer with an exterior varnish is the way to go. It offers protection from UV rays and water damage, by preventing the wood from expanding and contracting in extreme weather conditions. Although it’s a time-consuming process, this dynamic duo finish can pay off in the long run. 

4. Paint

Brick house with two windows
Photo: 1000 Words / Adobe Stock

Because of the various finishes and colors for front doors, paint is a favorite wood finish by most homeowners. Besides its versatile nature, it’s also durable—the opaque pigments in paint keep your front door protected from UV rays and are designed to withstand chipping, fading, and peeling. It’s also easy to apply, which makes painting a front door a weekend project for even beginner DIYers. 

While a paint finish is a good choice, it doesn’t penetrate the wood and provides only a surface finish. And that finish acts as a barrier between the external weather conditions and the wood underneath. So, if you’re looking for a finish that lets the wood grain show through, paint might not be the best choice for you. 

Considerations to Make When Choosing Wood Finish

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding which finish is right for your front door:

  • Do you want the natural grain to show? How much?

  • What type of sheen do you prefer?

  • How often do you want to refinish your front door?

  • How durable do you need your finish? 

  • Will your front door be covered or exposed to the element?

Hiring a Door Finishing Pro

When you purchase a new front door, how you initially finish it will determine how long it lasts and your home’s curb appeal. And while you can finish it yourself, the process can get time- and labor-intensive. So, if that’s not something you’re interested in or not comfortable working on, contact a door finishing pro near you

They’ll have the skills necessary to finish your door, so it’ll be a lovely focal point for your home’s exterior. Or if you have the skills and are ready to DIY this project, but aren’t sure what finish is right for you, contact your local pro for assistance.

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