If you paint the door…

The front door has been a mess for years.  And for years I have said, “The door must be redone before Thanksgiving!” And Thanksgivings came and went. And the door just got more and more mortifyingly ugly.

Why, you ask, can’t you just redo the door? What is your problem? In the immortal words of Nike, “Just do it!”

If only it was so simple as refinishing a door.

The problem goes back twenty years to when we built the log home.  The thing with log homes is that you don’t know what you don’t know until you’ve (not) done it.  We didn’t know not to buy pre-hung doors.

The pre-hung doors came with frames that were narrower than the log walls.  The doors never sat right in the opening. This is one reason why the doors never cleared the entry rug. Also, the pre-hung frames came primed.  The house is natural (not painted!) wood. What do we do about that? The obvious solution–to rehang the doors–was too exhausting to contemplate after moving into the house.  So we did nothing.

Fast forward to now and we have a Project. And it is really getting done this time. Here is the project, which will hopefully clarify why it took so long to want to actually do it.

Step one. Remove the entire door and frame. This was both terrifying and exhilarating.  There was no front door on the house! Good thing we live in the middle of the woods and no one knows how to get here. The empty door  took me back to construction days and the excitement of laying the logs. Even the woody smell was fresh.  At the same time, the raw gaping lack of doorness stood in contrast to the cozy interior that developed over the years.  Oh, what a mess John was going to make!


You may be wondering how long the front door was missing. Occasionally (usually on weekends) the door was off overnight with shower curtains and plywood covering the opening to try to keep the bugs out. Boris the Bear made only the one appearance this summer and has long since meandered north. The deer don’t usually want to come in. They just stand around watching with heads cocked in curiosity. However, most days, especially during the work week, the entire door with frame was put back in place.

Step two, inspect and repair water damage. This was probably the biggest (and yes, dumbest) reason we procrastinated on the project. We were afraid of what we might find. Mercifully, damage was manageable. John replaced two rim joists by the door, some subfloor, and a bit of hardwood flooring just inside the door.

Step three. Build an entirely new door frame and sill.  The staging area for this was the front yard with the frame being lugged to and from the mudroom where it was stored before installation.

Step four. Oops. Realize that the new frame will require the entire opening to be enlarged.  Yes, cut the log walls.  This generated a good mess.  The shower curtain was cumbersome but kept most of the mess outside.

Eventually, get to the “actual” project, strip the old finish off the doors.  At first, this looked to be a tedious task. Scraping or sanding risked ruining the authentic wood grain pattern on the “genuine” fiberglass door. But John figured out that if he left the stripper on long enough, he could powerwash everything off. (It was a good thing to learn, because there are are more doors to be done at a later date!)




And finally, paint the doors. 

After all the intense labor of undoing the pre-hung error and ensuing damage, we get to the actual door. The decision to paint resulted from the prohibitive cost of replacing the fiberglass doors with solid wood.  We chose red for dramatic effect in the woods, against the log structure, and to complement the interior decor. But how to get the right red???  There are so many reds!

Crimson…with color pairings! And reflection of John removing old stain with the power washer.


Thankfully there are paint chips and other people’s mistakes. One friend in particular loved her red door until she realized that it clashed with her Christmas wreath. Therefore, while Maywood Man power washed the stain stripper off the doors, I lay paint chips all over the front step and pulled out four seasons worth of door wreaths. From there, I eliminated colors. The wreaths were immensely helpful.  They revealed which reds were too brown or too purple. Some reds looked good against the logs but made a wreath look dull.  Some wreaths made the red look dull.


I settled on crimson.  It worked with the logs. It worked with the wreaths. It looked good both outside and inside the house.  I actually went around every first floor room holding the paint chip against drapes and wallpaper.  I wasn’t looking for a match, just compatibility.

An added plus, the crimson chip had color pairings. I now have the right shade of off-white  to redo the hallway!

Because, if you paint the door…

   But that’s a whole nuther post.

We are delighted with the door, both inside and out. Before we began the project, I had bought new wreaths for fall because I was tired of the wreaths I had. However, once the doors were painted, the old wreaths looked better on the doors than the new ones!

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