Small Updates to the Front Door

March 15, 2020

A little stain, new hardware, and trim enhance the charm of the old wood front door at my fixer upper.

MACTAVISH HOUSE   |   Published March 15, 2020

Today I'm stepping away from the reno in the breakfast nook to show you a little exterior update.

The main door that we use in and out of the house is on the back porch.  I always refer to it as the front door, even though the actual "front door" of the house is built in underneath the breakfast nook and leads into the basement.  Eventually I'll do something with it in terms of curb appeal, but my main focus at the moment is enhancing the door that people use.

There is still much to do out back here, but I started with a makeover of the door.  I left the wood door rather than switching it out for something new last year when the doors and windows were replaced.  I'm nor sure of the age of the door, but I couldn't justify ripping out an older solid wood door and replacing it it with something else when I am trying to restore the house.

Let's first go back to where we started with this door......

Before the exterior renovations, there was a metal screen door covering the door.  That was removed because I wanted the door to be the highlight.

When the siding was completed, my contractor installed metal cladding around the door frame to hide the old boards.  This wasn't a look that I loved or expected.

First of all, this is an old house and some elements aren't level and this fix made things really look un-level overtop the door.  Also, this still left the space under the threshold (that would receive the most snow and rain damage) exposed.  And third, the metal wasn't the polished look I was envisioning.

So although I'm sure it wasn't appreciated, I got my hammer out and removed the metal cladding.

My original plan that you might remember seeing in my design plans for this area included a natural stained door.  After I sanded the reddish stain off, though, I didn't really love the natural look against the white siding because it was too orange.

So I stained the wood with Fusion Mineral Stain and Finishing Oil in Cappuccino  (the same stain I used for the living room floors).  I liked the darker wood look better.

I also sanded and stained the frame of the door that had been clad in the metal.  The door seems small both in actual size and because of the low porch ceiling height.  I feel like staining the frame to match the doors over the white siding makes the door itself seem larger in person.

To finish off the outside of the frame, I cut PVC boards and attached them with heavy duty construction adhesive.  The boards look very similar to white painted wood boards, but are made out of PVC so they won't be damaged by the elements or need any upkeep.  I purchased mine from Wayfair because they had the width that I needed, but I've also purchased them from Home Depot for another project.

To make sure the boards were securely attached while the adhesive dried, I held them onto the siding and door frame with duct tape.  And as you can probably see above the door, I was able to fix things so the frame now looks level.

My only problem was that underneath the threshold is too narrow for the 3/4" thick PVC trim, but I did find a thinner option to close off that area and will get that done soon to clean up and protect the space.

Right before the cold weather hit in the fall, I installed some wood trim that has built in weather stripping to make the door more airtight.  I'm not sure if this helped at all and it closes in the door frame even more, so I think I may need to make a change with this.  It seemed like a good fix in theory, but I don't know that it is the right choice here.

And finally this past week, I switched out the door knob.  I'd love something a little more substantial and fancy, but there isn't a lot of space to work with for anything bigger on this door.  I had hoped to install a vintage door plate behind the doorknob to give it some more focus, but unfortunately after I got the doorplate I realized the hole wasn't large enough to accommodate the internal structure of the doorknob.  But I've got a few other things to try so I'm not giving up hope yet!

This picture really gives you a good look at how pretty the finish of the door actually is.  I snapped all these quickly the other day with my cell phone so the detail isn't the best from a distance.  But this little angle shows you better how the wood grain really pops using the Fusion stain.  And you can also better see the issue I'm having with the weather stripping.

I've still go to work at getting the glue from the outdoor carpeting off the concrete and fix the area under the threshold, but things are looking better back here.  I'm putting a few touches of spring out that I'll share with you next week.

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