I have been wanting to restain my front door. It is old and there is a lot of damage caused by heat and moisture. I know it takes some time and multiple coats of stain and poly to do it right, but it seems problematic to leave your house wide open for that long. What do you use to protect your home from people, animals, and the elements? Do you just cover it with a tarp or is there some sort of temporary wall that I can put up while I am working on it? Do I just need to make sure that I am home all of the time while trying to get it done?



Go to your local lumber yard or big box store and ask about a loaner slab. They know that builders want to send all their stuff out to be finished and will often loan door slabs for no charge. This gives you full functionality of your door while you finish the slab. Take the door dimensions and swing direction (with your back to the hinges).

Now, if you didn't buy your door (or at least your finishing products) from one of these places you may need to do a little more begging. Explain the situation and see what comes of it. An alternative is to buy a cheap scratch-and-dent slab and install it, then sell it on Craigslist or use it for a workbench.


Assuming you have another entrance to the home you can use, you could simply buy a sheet of plywood, cut it to the proper size, and screw it in to the frame. Now, i wouldn't want to do this and leave the house for a few days, but it should be secure enough in the mid-term. You could even slap a coat of paint on it so it looks like a real door- most people probably wouldn't even notice depending on your neighborhood.

  • That seems reasonable. I doubt I would go through the effort of panting the board, but seems like something I could do for a few days. – bsayegh Aug 12 '16 at 17:08

What I did was just dedicate a long day to sanding and applying a sealer coat or two of finish (and letting it dry). After that, you can temporarily remount the door until you can spend another longish day applying the remaining coats.

One of the nice things about dewaxed shellac as a sealer/base coat is that it uses alcohol as a solvent, so it dries relatively quickly.

(Heck, if necessary you can re-hang an unfinished door. Worst that can happen is it gets rained on a bit. You want to raise the grain before final sanding anyway, right?)

  • So you sanded and added the first coat, rehung it after it dried? That could work, but how long does it take to dry so that you can rehang it? – bsayegh Aug 12 '16 at 17:07

A sheet of steel or plywood outside and some bars inside longer than the doorframe is wide, with carriage bolts (nuts inside) connecting the sheet to the bars, and no need to drill holes in the doorframe. Unlike screwing into the frame, carriage bolts can be left with the heads exposed to passer-by but passerby cannot unscrew them, as the heads are designed not to be unscrewable; only the nuts can be easily removed, and you keep those inside the house.

A lovely image of a carriage bolt from ritterlumber.net - whoever they are.

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