Our “New” Repurposed Front Door + Wood Door Inspiration

October 17, 2019

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This post is sponsored by Minwax

When we moved into this home, on the back of our house, was a large 9′ arched solid wood door that captured my heart. If you’ve been keeping up, you know that this part of our home was an addition that wasn’t done exactly right so it’s now completely gone and it will be a large dining/entertaining space. For a long time, we worked around keeping the door here because we loved it so much but nothing seemed to fit right because it was so tall! Once we decided–why not make it our front door!!–everything fell into place. The dining room still gets to keep the smaller arched doors and a line of 5 new doors and we get to have this beauty on the front of our home. We can’t wait!

I’m not sure how long it has been in place, but it was definitely weathered. So we plan to sand it down and refinish it with Minwax stain and a Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane topcoat. The Helmsman Urethane is specially formulated as a protective clear finish for exterior or interior wood exposed to sunlight, water, or temperature changes. It contains UV blockers to reduce the sun’s graying and fading effects and actually forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture. If you have any outdoor wood finishes that you want to protect for years to come, a Helmsman topcoat is what you’ll want to add. It has special oils that allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change. Also think of things inside that could use it–like doors, windows, trim, bathroom cabinets–any wood that is exposed to moisture and temperature changes could benefit really.

We’ll eventually sand down the whole door, but to test samples, we started with the center strip. It sanded down in seconds to a beautiful light oak. (That we might just put a coat of Helmsman on and call it good, to be honest. HEART. EYES.!)

With a piece of painters tape along the top to track what stain we were testing, we got to work trying out a few of our Minwax favorites.

Once they were dry, we put a coat of Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane in satin over just the bottom half so you could see the difference. This also comes in a gloss and a spray if that’s more suitable for your project. I like a lower sheen to really appreciate the wood.

You can see the topcoat made the stain a little more rich, but not much. From left to right, you’re seeing all stains by Minwax:

English Chestnut, Dark Walnut, Driftwood, Pickled Oak, Classic Gray, True Black and Jacobean.

It was surprising to see how much lighter True Black was than the Dark Walnut or Jacobean (which came out the darkest), but we also just did one coat of each. The coffee table we recently stained True Black we did two coats and it was much darker. It could also be affected by the type of wood. This is solid oak, which will accept stain differently than, say, a pine! It’s always important to test the stain on the type of wood you’re using and when you find one you like–you can sand off the others. :)

I do wish that we kept one area clear of stain and just tried a topcoat, so we’ll probably attempt that before making a final decision because I think it could be really pretty if the rest of our home is dark. I also love the Classic Gray and Jacobean.

And since I don’t have any finished door photos for you yet, I’ll leave you with a few inspirations that get me excited for a wood door.

Like this one, in a Walnut tone, from Becki Owens

Here’s another from Becki Owens  in a Classic Gray stain (so much depth!):

I love these lighter wood doors from Plank and Pillow:

And this mid-tone one from Magnolia is perfection.


This light wood front entry from Millhaven Homes is pushing me to keep ours blonde, too!

But then I see this dark set from @crateandcottage and fall for Jacobean again.

Okay, okay, THOMSON & COOKE ARCHITECTS, you win!!!!!!!

Any favorites of the bunch?


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What do you think?

  1. Liz says:

    All of your source images have white siding/brick/paint. Hard to tell until you have your house colour determined. Maybe source some darker house photos and see what colour wood doors they are using? That might help more to make the decision?

  2. Louann says:

    Thank you so much for this lesson!!!
    Just getting ready to do an outside bench!

  3. Toria Smith says:

    I think a lot will depend on what material/color it is going to be next to on the exterior. I think you’ve mentioned that you decided on black or charcoal siding so with that in mind I’m leaning towards the lighter wood tones or just the original oak with top coat.

  4. Tamara Garcia says:

    We stained ours last year in Jacobean with a matte clear coat from MinWax and absolutely love it. All the looks are beautiful but you should do what is closest to your style…JACOBEAN!! ❤️

  5. Leslie says:

    I say blonde or jacobean.

  6. Elizabeth A Weber-Falk says:

    I’m really taken with the gray, but not for your place, for mine! It’s tough to pick a color for the door until the rest of the outside is finished. I feel it should be a stand out, welcoming look.

  7. Laurie carpenter says:

    Just wondering if you’ve ever used Minwax wood conditioner before you stain?
    I find that conditioning the wood before I stain helps the wood end up the actual stain color I’ve chosen regardless of wood species.

  8. bella says:

    i do love wood door. it is classic and classy. look old but modern at the same time. i don’t know i just love your post about this. thankyou for sharing. you are great.

  9. Erin says:

    What a beautiful door! I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the stain choices, but my favourites are driftwood and either English Chestnut or True Black!

    Can’t wait to see what you decide and how it looks as the new front door!

  10. Tracie says:

    I’ve forgotten what exterior color you decided on, but my top 3 faves are Driftwood, Pickled Oak and English Chestnut based on the samples. That door is going to be absolutely gorgeous! Can’t wait :D

  11. Julie M. says:

    Ooh…before I read that you might like to keep it natural, with a seal, I though…”Oooh…it would be nice natural, with the seal…” Happy planning!

  12. D. Pike says:

    Are prep steps for an outside door similar to an indoor table?
    I’ve never stripped and stained a furniture piece and want to try.
    Have read about the danger of chemical strippers and scared of that.
    Will sanding do the same thing?
    Then, is it a surprise As to color of natural wood? I read that the previous stain could have seeped into wood and won’t come off.
    Thanks for your help.

  13. Colette says:

    I love the idea of sanding it and just adding the top coat. Keeping it the natural wood with the dark exterior. It’s going to be so beautiful!

  14. venita says:

    Plank and pillow or no stain<3

  15. Kate says:

    We refinished our hardwoods with a 50/50 mix of dark walnut and classic gray which may be an option to sample based on what you like about each. You lucked out with that door! It’s going to be so nice.

  16. Marcia says:

    I’m loving Driftwood, but would also like to see just a clear coat. Like others have mentioned, if you go black with your exterior accents, a lighter colored wood door would really shine. Whatever you choose, I’m sure it will turn out great!

  17. Abby says:

    I love the gray, but I’ve painted and purchased everything gray in the last few months, so I’m biased ;)
    I also love the idea of keeping it natural!
    I’m happy you guys are able to keep the door you love!

  18. Helena McNeice says:

    I love the blonde natural look.

  19. Catherine says:

    Clear! That wood tone is amazing!

  20. Erica says:

    I personally love the Driftwood and Pickled Oak, but I always love the warmer wood tones. Can’t wait to see what the clear coat looks like in comparison!

  21. Elyse says:

    I had no idea Minwax has so many colors! For some reason our local Lowes and Home Depot only stocks like 3 colors and 2 of them are always a reddish brown. Or maybe they dont have as many color options in the polyshades line? I do prefer that one step coverage for unfinished furniture!! I can see why it would be different with an exterior door.

  22. Holley says:

    Since your exterior is gonna be dark I think the blonde will look amazing and pop so nicely!

  23. Cali says:

    Love the light blonde and natural, just put on clear and enjoy!!! Love your blog thanks for sharing

  24. Leah says:

    LOVE your idea to sand it down to the natural oak and leave it at that. I think it will pop nicely against the dark exterior! Also, thanks for sharing all your wood staining tips and products, it’s super helpful!

  25. Kristin says:

    I LOVE it natural with no stain. I think it would be beautiful against a dark house.

  26. Meg says:

    I’m a sucker for mid-tone woods. It doesn’t look like you could go wrong!

  27. Gigi says:

    I like the Plank and Pillow doors, the color the hardware, it’s all good. But…I kinda liked the door in it’s weathered condition left alone. I know that isn’t what this post is about but I really was drawn to the photo of the door in it’s natural state. I actually thought that’s how it was being installed. I don’t mind a door like that mixed with modern for that modern/vintage look.

  28. Hanna says:

    The driftwood stain is gorgeous!

  29. Melissa says:

    Driftwood is really pretty! I think the clear coat could be really nice though!

  30. Alissa Ferry says:

    What about Minwax Simply White stain?! I’ve always wanted to see this in action and it could maybe do justice to that lighter look you’re (and I’m!) loving!

  31. Mara says:

    I think it might be easier to decide on a stain color after your exterior is painted

  32. Mel says:

    Hands down I would go light or mid tone and not gray or jacobean Ha! But it’s your door :) My favorite mid tone stain is provincial which I think would be beautiful here but mid tone wood is really having a moment for me. I really like lighter but I feel like your grand home deserves something darker for some reason? I love the look of the one coat of true black. Sigh. I want an old beautiful door now too…..arches make me swoon

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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