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Maintain Your Exterior Doors



Exterior doors get a lot of use. After all, it’s kind of hard to get inside your house without them. Plus, even when they’re not opening or closing, they’re still exposed to the elements. Maintain your exterior doors once a year to keep them looking great and capable of withstanding the wind, rain, snow and anything else Mother Nature throws at them.


What You'll Need:

  • screwdriver
  • medium grit sandpaper
  • liquid dish soap
  • 2 soft cloths
  • protective layer (finish or stain or paint) of your choice

How To:

  1. 1

    Check your door hardware. This includes the knob or handle, faceplate, hinges and lock. If any of these parts are loose or your lock is sticking, it’s a good idea to get your door hardware repaired or replaced. For loose parts, sometimes all you need to do is tighten the screws with a screwdriver. For details on more in-depth repairs, read: Repair and Replace Door Hardware.

  2. 2

    Check your weather stripping. This is usually a foam or rubber lining that runs along the bottom and sides of your door to prevent hot or cold air from escaping (and entering) your home. A worn-out weather strip will leak air, which will increase your utility bill. To check for leaks, close the door and place your hand along the bottom and sides of the door. If you feel a draft coming through, your weather stripping should be replaced. You can do this yourself in about an hour (although some types of stripping require you to take the door off its hinges), or hire a professional, which generally costs around $50 per door.

  3. 3

    Remove chipped paint and scuff marks. Loose paint chips can be removed with a stiff brush, and minor scratches and scuffs can be sanded away with medium-grit sandpaper. Then, use a soft cloth dipped in soapy water (use a mild dish soap to avoid damaging your door) to clean any excess dirt off your door. Dry with a fresh cloth. This will make it much easier to perform step #4.

  4. 4

    Apply a new layer of finish, stain or paint. It’s a good idea to do this every year, but even doing it every few years will vastly improve your doors’ protection from the elements, so they last much longer. The details of this step will vary depending on what kind of door you have, so always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations. For wood doors, you will generally need to sand the surface and then add several new layers of primer and paint or finish. Fiberglass doors require protection as well! You can purchase a fiberglass finishing kit at your local hardware store for about $70. Follow the specific instruction on the kit when adding a new finish to your door.

  5. 5

    Install an overhang or awning (optional). If any of your exterior doors have either a southern or western exposure, they will see more sun and heat throughout the day. It’s a good idea to install an overhang or awning so that these doors will be protected by shade, and last longer. If you’re handy, you can install a simple awning yourself, or hire a contractor if you want an overhang built. A typical awning will cost anywhere from $100-$600, while an overhang construction can cost several thousand dollars, depending on how complex the project is. Note: In some cases, you may not be able to add an overhang or awning that won’t look odd or out of place in the context of your house. Use your best aesthetic judgment before adding one!

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