I'm going to give it a try rather then buying a new door.

I have a wooden door (veneer on both sides) with some decorative mouldings. My plan is to use a heat gun to get as much paint off as possible and then go around with an orbital sander using 80, 120 and 220 grit sandpaper.

On the bottom, the door is weathered and some of the wood is chipped or has started to flake under the paint. I think I need to use some kind of filler but I would like to know what kind because I want it to hold.

Also, one of the biggest issues with restoring it myself is that I don't like seeing brush marks in the paint. So, I plan to paint the door using a sprayer. I do have the equipment for painting cars. Can I spray the door with the same spray gun? What kind of primer and paint do I need to use on the wood to make sure it holds well and lasts for a long time?

Any other advice on stripping, sanding and filling the paint will be appreciated.

Note: If it makes a difference, I'm also going to get all new hardware.


1 Answer 1


We just use good ol' bondo to fill missing pieces in wood. In the cabinets I did last weekend, several of the doors had an inch worth of corner rebuilt from bondo.

The other tool that helped us that weekend was a profile detail sander; specifically the octosander by Skil.

You can use the same spray gun you would use for cars, but you might need a larger diameter tip/needle combo. With my gun, I need a 1.7mm tip for oil based enamel and a 2.5 for water based.

Edit to add our process:

  • sand with an orbital sander and profile sander using 60 to 120 grit until the surface no longer has brush marks. It's OK if some of the original paint is still present. This ended up exposing some raw wood. Don't be afraid to press down hard on the sander at this point -- you're going for removal, not smoothness.
  • Clean areas that require patching or bondo using a stiff wire brush to remove any rotten or loose wood. Mix and apply bondo, keeping in mind that the set time of bondo is typically very small and that you want to apply it in it's most liquid state for it to bond well with the wood. Do not let it partially harden as you're applying it; stop and mix a new batch. Sand bondo after 45 minutes of hardening using a wood block with sandpaper wrapped around it so that you get a surface that is smooth with the rest of the door.
  • Wipe down to remove sawdust and paint debris, wait for it to dry. Apply a thick coat of primer across the entire surface. Wait for it to cure (12 hours).
  • Sand any areas that show as high LIGHTLY with 120 grit. This will probably include the bondoed area and any area around where raw wood was exposed. Sand more heavily with 120 grit in areas where the primer was attempting to fill in a crack.
  • Wipe down, wait to dry, Prime again, lighter this time.
  • Sand lightly with 220 grit until the surface is as smooth as a baby's bottom. You want to make sure you remove any signs of any orange peel or other imperfections in the primer coat, because they will show right through to the finish coat.
  • Apply finish coat smoothly and evenly. If you're in a climate like mine (hot and humid), move the door indoors to cure for > 24 hours before attempting to mount and close it.

Dad has always used exterior-grade Alkyd (Oil) based finishes on wood doors. Due to VOC restrictions, many of the finishes he used are no longer available, and the newer low-VOC formulations are prone to chalking. Our paint store, who I trust implicitly, now recommends that we use an alkyd primer and then coat with an exterior acrylic.

  • 1
    see the comments on the question. How many layers of paint would you recommend?
    – Niall C.
    Sep 3, 2011 at 1:48
  • 1
    I edited heavily to add an increased level of detail. Sep 3, 2011 at 17:39

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