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D725A 03-01-2010 08:06 PM

Have to use oil enamel paint on interior wood doors?
We are painting our bedroom walls and ceiling; in the process we decided to paint our old stained doors. Prior owners did a bad job staining and finishing them, paint is probably our only way out. I have been advised to use only oil primer and final coat paint on these. other doors in the house probably have latex on them, but that was applied over various coats. These would be the first paint coat--probably have to scuff up the doors a bit before priming. Is oll paint the way to go?


Cork-Guy 03-02-2010 02:09 AM

Personally, I would just sand down the doors and re-stain them; it will take longer, but will come out much better in terms of visual decor. You can rent an electric sander or a heat gun and have it completely stripped in about an hour or two. This would REALLY make the whole job worth wild.

D725A 03-02-2010 05:33 AM

Thanks; I assumed the stain couldn't be sanded out
so easily as it's ingrained into the wood. We believe there used to be a nice cherry stain on there, and one of the owners years ago darkened the whole thing and sanded against the grain and made parts of the three doors unattractive.

Nestor_Kelebay 03-02-2010 09:19 AM


If the finish on those doors was applied before the mid-1980's, then there's a real good chance that it's varnish, and not polyurethane. In that case, I would simply clean the doors with TSP, and then apply a wiping polyurethane over them.

The TSP will etch the gloss of the varnish, giving it "bite" for the polyurethane to stick exceedingly well. A wiping polyurethane uses much smaller alkyd resins than you find in a polyurethane "varnish" or alkyd paint, and so it's not nearly as viscous and self levels very well so you don't get any brush strokes.

Maybe try doing that to one side of one door before you do anything else, just to check the results.

Also, you can use xylene to remove latex paint from doors. The xylene will etch the underlying varnish, but then you could try just apply wiping polyurethane over the etched varnish to restore the gloss. (I've done that before, and it worked well. I just want you to try in an inconspicuous spot before you apply anything over the whole door. You've got nothing to lose by trying this first if your gameplan is to sand down the door to bare wood anyway.

D725A 03-02-2010 10:34 AM

Thanks Nestor
3 Attachment(s)
for your info no removing the finish. However my concern is with the stain, which is the reason the doors look so bad. If I get the finish off, then what? how much sanding would be required to get out that stain.

I am attaching 3 photos:
ed1 is what I call a cherry stain, looks great, the only one they didn't touch.
ed2 are the three bedroom closet doors, much darker
ed3 is closeup of one of the three doors; middle panel was messed up somehow, maybe sanding across grain.

Can you tell what kind of wood this is? We both LOVE old wood, oak floors etc but how would we get that stain out? or at least fix those darkened areas?

Nestor_Kelebay 03-02-2010 12:31 PM

I can't tell the species of wood, but you can tell by the hardware that they're old doors, so I expect styles and rails are a solid hardwood and the panels are a furniture grade plywood.

I don't know that much about staining, but you are correct that wood stain does penetrate right into the surface of the wood, and the only way to effectively remove it is by removing the surface layer of wood, typically by sanding the stained wood off. There are bleaches you can buy to supposedly bleach the stain out of wood, but they don't work well, and they can affect the wood so that it doesn't stain either uniformly or predictably. (I'd stay away from trying to bleach the stain out.)

I think if I were you, I would look in your yellow pages under "Furniture Refinishing" to find out which of the lumber yards in your area stock hardwoods for the local woodworkers and furniture refinishers. Both the furniture refinishers and those lumber yards would know of anyone that makes or repairs solid wood doors. I'm thinking it would be much easier to have those doors taken apart and have the rails and styles planed down on a planer to remove the stained surface layer of wood. Similarily, you could probably have the panels replaced with furniture grade plywood rather than try to sand the stain out of them. Those probably won't be solid hardwood panels anyhow because of the difficulty in making such a large thin panel out of solid wood. So it'd just be a matter of replacing old furniture grade plywood with new furniture grade plywood.

Also, the furniture refinishers would be able to give you a knowledgeable opinion on why that staining job turned out kinda blotchy on the doors.

thefauxguy 03-03-2010 02:06 PM

It's all about using the right process and products. You don't have to use oil based primers. There are some water base primer and paint products that eliminate the step altogether of having to prime your cabinets. They also don't stink like oil base and they're better for the environment. The process I'd use would be the same as is used with painting kitchen cabinets.

Robbie245 03-07-2010 04:56 AM

There are LATEX enamel paints for indoors.

Enamel is very durable and washable.

Don't use and EXTERIOR enamel inside because of harmful VOCs

Nestor_Kelebay 03-07-2010 10:58 AM


The hardest latex paints are latex floor paints, and they simply aren't hard enough to stand up well on a working surface like a floor. Latex "enamels" are cross linking acrylic paints, and most top quality latex paints are cross linking acrylics. They're harder than regular latex paints, but not as hard as oil based paints.


Enamel is very durable and washable.
Maybe go to your paint store and ask for enamel paint. The original "enamel" paint was made years ago when someone tinted a can of varnish in a paint tinting machine to give it colour and opacity. Years ago, varnish only came in gloss and semi-gloss, and it dried harder than paints did because it contained more plant resins (called "copals"). The result was a "paint" that dried to a harder, smoother film than you'd expect from a paint.

Since everyone wants a hard smooth coat of paint, some paint companies (notably Behr) have come to calling every darn can of paint they make and "enamel". What's in the can is paint. Behr calls it "enamel" because improvements in paint chemistry and additives over the past 10 or 20 years mean EVERY paint you buy dries to a harder smoother film than it did 10 or 20 years ago, so every paint (save the dead flat latex paints) can legitimately be called an "enamel". Still, what's in the can is ordinary paint that dries to a smoother harder film that the same company's paint did 10 or 20 years ago.

Now that polyurethane has replaced varnish as the clear coat of choice over wood, a modern day "enamel" paint would be a polyurethane floor paint, which you could make yourself by tinting a can of hardwood floor polyurethane in a paint tinting machine.

D725A 07-06-2010 02:06 PM

Oil on old doors
Well after slowly repairing the plaster ceiling and walls and painting the whole room, we decided we'd like to keep the old doors as they are--having removed a number of old paint drops on them--and wonder what kind of oil can be used on them: tung? linseed? I suppose a urethane may be a better less-maintenance-down-the-road option.

apparently these doors were stripped of the old paint and maybe not restained. hard to tell if any urethane or varnish was applied--assuming back in the 70s--finish is very dull. possibly they were never refinished.



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