Choosing The Best Treatment For Your External Oak Doors

Last updated on February 24th, 2021 at 10:01 am

Oak external doors are popular with home owners because they are attractive and sturdy. However, if they are not cared for properly they can suffer from serious weather damage. Wind, rain, snow and exposure to dirt can all contribute to rot and damage. A door that is not well looked after can swell, become warped, and even split. If you want to make sure that your doors last for as long as possible, it’s important to see treating exterior oak as an ongoing task. Before fitting, you’ll need to administer an oak treatment, and then clean and re-treat them every two or three years.

Door frame replacement
Photo credit: melissajonas

There are several different forms of wood treatment, but not all treatments are suitable for use as an external oak door treatment. Check the labels of any paints, oils or varnishes carefully to make sure that they are designed for outdoor use.

Here we’ll go through some of the most common exterior oak treatment choices and whether they’re right or not for your external door.

Water-Based Treatments

Water based paints and varnishes will seal and waterproof your wood, but it does so by soaking into the wood, causing the wood grain to raise. Water based treatments usually require only one or two coats, so they can be applied quickly, but they need re-applied more frequently than oil based treatments, and can produce an uneven finish if they aren’t applied properly.

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Exterior Wood Door Oil Treatments

Oil-based treatments are longer-lasting than water-based treatments and tend to produce a nice even finish. In addition, the pigments in oil-based treatments tend to be stronger and offer better protection against the sun’s UV rays. The main downside of oil-based treatments is that traditional oil-based stains may need more coats than a water-based treatment. Modern oil-based gels penetrate the wood well, which generally makes them the best oil for external oak doors.

Exterior Wood Door Wax

Wax produces a nice finish on internal doors, but rarely offers enough protection for external doors. Achieving a good finish with wax is a laborious process, and usually requires several applications, followed by a careful buffing process. If you do decide to use wax on an external door, it is best applied when it is warm so that the wood grain is open and the wax can seep in properly. Be prepared to have to re-apply the wax far more frequently than you would re-do an oil based treatment.

Exterior Wood Door Varnish

Varnish is not a good choice for oak external doors. The oak will react with the varnish when it is exposed to sunlight, and the varnish will start to peel off quickly. The finish may look great when it is fresh, but you will need to re-apply it every year to keep it looking good. Oil based treatments can achieve a similar look and will only need re-done once every two or three years.

Before you treat your door, read any documentation that came with it. Most door manufacturers offer a warranty for their products, and included in that warranty will be a list of acceptable paints and finishes. If you use a product that does not offer adequate protection from the elements, then your warranty will be void. If in doubt, contact the company that made your door and ask them for recommendations.

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