Exterior Doors – What Does Your Front Door Say About You?


Wooden exterior  doors need some form of outdoor wood protection to prevent them getting hopelessly tatty, which can happen reasonably quickly if left unchecked, especially when they’re exposed to winter weather or full-on summer sun. A lack of exterior wood treatment on wooden doors can eventually lead to warping and bowing, which could affect the fit of the door resulting in drafts and potentially compromise security. Once the wood preservative side of things has been sorted, how do you choose the right colour and paint finish?

Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t treat and protect external hardwood doors, then simply varnish or oil them. Plain, natural wood is beautiful stuff. But most of us paint our wood front door with either exterior gloss, silk or matt paint. Here are some tips about making the best possible job of it, and insights into why it’s so important…

Exterior door décor – Making a great first impression

No plans to sell your home?

If you’re loving living in your home and have no plans to sell, the wonderful world of paint is your oyster. The impression you make is entirely down to your personal taste.

There’s a massive range of water-based and oil-based exterior eggshell paints available, a seriously trendy option particularly popular with people who like heritage colours. You can buy regular gloss paint, probably Britain’s best-loved choice for wood front doors, in literally hundreds of shades from subtle, historic and traditional to vibrant, vivid and rebellious. And you can buy exterior matt and silk alternatives, again in a truly vast choice of colours. You can even specify your own unique colour, for example taking a scrap of fabric to the shop for staff to copy.

How on earth do you make up your mind about colour? You could simply choose your favourite colour, whether it’s high-gloss lime green or a lovely deep shade of aubergine, cheery pillarbox red or clean, crisp white. You can pick a shade that reflects your interior décor, or the flowers along your garden path. Or you could even use Feng Shui principles to pin down the right one. It’s as good a method as any if you’re lost in space, bewildered by the endless variety of shades available. If that sounds like a good idea, here’s a link to a site about using Feng Shui to get it right.

As a general rule pale colours need a little more maintenance than darker shades, touching the finish up with a small brush whenever you get a dink or minor flaking, and making sure damage doesn’t spread unchecked.

What if you want to sell your home?

If you want to sell your home, your personal colour sense might have to take the back seat. The thing is, your exterior door or the door of your flat is the first thing people see when they approach your property. It’s where the eye focuses, and first impressions are really important.

As long as your door is smartly finished, sporting a clean, fresh-looking paint job, the colour is often academic. On the other hand, plenty of people prefer neutral colours and a strong, unusual or downright eccentric choice might put them off at the starting line. It’s horses for courses. If you’re concerned, you can’t go far wrong with a spotless glossy black or white door. Dark blue, racing green and deep red are also popular and perfectly acceptable. While bright purple or day-glo orange might not quite be the thing if you’re keen to sell fast!

Gorgeous wood exterior doors – First impressions really do count

As an article in The Telegraph says:

“It takes just eight seconds to decide whether or not you will buy a house, according to the latest research. And at least four of them will be spent waiting at the front door. Lord Lloyd-Webber has a mahogany one, Richard Rogers has a white one, and Kate Middleton has just installed a pair of them in black. “People look at a front door before they look at anything else,” says designer Cecilia Neal, of Meltons. “Your front door reflects what you think about the house. A door can sell a property.”

Eight seconds? That’s actually quite scary. And there’s more… Apparently some experts feel it’s important for exterior wood doors to be ‘appropriate to a house’. Others feel you can’t beat simple good taste, waxing lyrical about the significant charms of the typical Georgian front door with its perfect proportions and, if you’re fortunate, glazed fanlight.

Can you fit a repro or original Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian-style exterior front door? Yes, you can. And it often works beautifully, especially on an exclusive new build or graceful old building. On the other hand, a classic Georgian masterpiece crow-barred onto a 1970s pebbledash semi might look a bit strange. Many experts say the design should be in sympathy with the building. So while a big, stained glass-rich Edwardian masterpiece may not suit your modern bungalow, a contemporary planked door might give it exactly the visual boost it needs and make your home look really special.

One thing is certain: a cheap and nasty, tatty-looking door won’t do an otherwise smart building any favours, and a seriously good-looking one can raise the bar even when the property itself is nothing special. A beautiful, well-maintained and well-presented hardwood external door gives a powerful signal that you love and care for the property, and hints at the quality of the interior. With only a few seconds to make the right impression, it’s a relatively easy win.

What can I do with a UPVC exterior door?

Over time even UPVC can start to look worn and tatty. Many people choose the material because you don’t need to paint it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t. UPVC can be painted with oil or water-based eggshell paint in any colour you like. Alternatively, get busy with the UPVC cleaning fluid, available from all good DIY shops.

The door as an investment

Estate agencies take the front door thing even further, with some insisting that it’s actually an essential investment. If all you do is fit new exterior doors before you sell, the results will be worthwhile.

It can even be a love thing. Some people move mountains to take their beloved door with them when they move, fitting it in their new home despite considerable cost and inconvenience.

Need inspiration? Here are lots of images of beautiful front doors

What’s your best front door style, design and colour? No idea? Short on inspiration? Here’s a site packed with glorious, eccentric, contemporary and classic wooden door décor ideas to whet your appetite. And if you need to create the perfect surface over which to paint, here’s a link to our door finishes page, full of excellent products.

Any questions?

If you have any questions, or need advice on the right finish to choose for your front door, our friendly experts are on-hand to help and advise – just give us a call.


  1. I have a old oak door that is in full sunlight therefore dries quite quickly. So I treat the door with linseed oil as this is what I was advised to do twenty years ago twice a year but it still dries out. I was wondering if I used a Danish oil would it give a longer lasting finish and protection and would it work with the linseed oil that as been applied for years.

    Or any other coatings but not paint

    • Hello David,

      A Decking Oil will offer a good level of protection and help prevent the wood from drying out and we have quite a few options for those on the website. Also Fiddes Exterior High Build Wood Oil is a great product to look at. It is clear oil that will give UV resistance and make the wood water repellent.

      Do let me know if you have any further questions.

      Kind regards Sam.


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