Southwest facing front doors in Texas take a real beating from the sun and elements, mine especially! Every year I would lightly sand and add several coats of stain sealant (1 product). Over time this really began to build up and not look as neat as I would like. Because it was easier to hide this with a darker stain, I eventually wound up with a very dark door that was badly in need of a complete refinishing. I looked into purchasing a new front door and WOW, they are expensive! I am so glad I went to the work to restore mine.
1.) I first attempted to use my palm sander with very coarse paper, but it really was slow going.
2.) Then I attempted a stripping product, Citristrip. This is all natural and can be used indoors with no ventilation, it smells like oranges.
3.) I applied the Citristip three or four times and found that some areas needed more attention than others. I also did some sanding between each coat of Citristrip. Citristrip works great, but I do think that it made the wood a little less porous, which required multiple coats of the stain to take any color. My original goal was to end up with an almost pine-like finish where the wood grain would be very visible.
4.) Once I was getting pretty close and knew that I could finish the stripping/sanding process that day, I took the door off the hinges and finished sanding. This was a lengthy project taking around 10 hours with all the steps. The bottom weather strip needed replacing, too. This was a much-needed item and it has made a big difference in the tightness of the door when closed.
5.) After sanding, it was time to stain and seal. I chose two separate products and feel that the additional step is well worth the extra time. I started with a Pecan colored stain but moved to a few shades darker (Cherry) to get the desired shade. Finally, I covered the door with Spar Urethane, specifically made for front doors.
The finished product, complete with spring flowers and a new door hanging!