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How to Salvage and Restore an Antique Door

Antique Door
Image used by permission Snooch2TheNooch

Antique doors add a unique room feature to all three of the key trends for 2013: Rustic, Whimsical and Nostalgia. Investing in an antique door is like recreating the past and with a little browsing for that hidden gem, you will find the perfect door for your house. It is important to aim for a door that suits both the decor of the room it is intended for, as well as being sympathetic to the age of your house. An Art Deco door will look a little out of place in an Elizabethan cottage. Once you’ve found and restored the door, you’ll need just the right accessories to add the finishing touch.

Once you’ve found your perfect door, it will probably need a little tender loving care. During the process you will find yourself amassing a lot of dust and using harsh chemical products. As always, it is important to work in a well-ventilated space and wear protective clothing and goggles. You’ll need a bit of patience, as there will be a lot of drying time between treatments of the wood, but the end product will be well worth the wait. Follow this step-by-step guide to antique door restoration and you will be rewarded with an antique door that is totally unique.

The Antique Door Restoration Process

1. First things first, clean with a cloth if the door has picked up some grime on the way to your house. Then remove all the ’hardware’ ,the knobs, hinges and any push plates. Apply chemical paint stripper to the door with a paint stripper, leave on for the amount of time recommended on the label (time will differ between products, but this usually takes half an hour).

2. Gently take off the original finish with a paint scraper or a putty knife, testing a small section to see if the paint will come off easily. Wood that is pitted will need to be treated with wire wool or a brush to get into the crevices. The whole process takes some elbow grease and patience, but it is worth laying the ground work at this stage to attain the best finish possible. You may need to reapply the stripper if there are many layers of paint. Wipe down with an old cloth, to remove any residue.

3. Sand the door well with 120 grit sandpaper, working with the grain of the wood, then wipe with a rag. Repeat the process with a 220/240 grit sandpaper and wipe again. Now you are ready to apply your own finish, be it a wood stain or paint. The former is probably the most sympathetic finish for old doors ,the new stain will bring out the natural wood grain. Once that is dry, using a brush, apply a thin coat of polyurethane to seal the new finish, leave to dry and repeat.

Ring door knocker black iron door knocker

Finishing Touches

The door should be finished with accessories that complement the age and style of the door, so do your homework on what will work best. Antique door handles are a great way to finish off that unique eye opening look, either a traditional Wrought iron door handle would work best or the bolt turn knob and iron oval Mortice. With antique door handles you could opt for reproduction ones, which are often based on original designs and, to the untrained eye, are hard to distinguish between vintage handles but an actual antique handle is a much better choice. In addition, consider adding push plates or finger plates to your door restoration. These protect the door and ornate ones can really bring out the age of a door. Period-authentic hardware is key for finishing the door to make it a feature of the room, rather than merely an entrance or exit.

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