Interior wooden doors have a hard time of things. They have to put up with everyday knocks, bumps, shoe scuffs, greasy hand prints, dirt from passing pets and more, every day of the year, and they’re still expected to look good. If you’ve bought a set of lovely new interior wooden doors, or are thinking about renovating your existing doors, our top tips will help you bring out the best in them so they look wonderful as well as protecting and preserving them for longer.
Choosing the Right Interior Wooden Doors and Interior Wood Treatment
If you haven’t looked already, you’ll be amazed at the number of door sizes, styles and construction types. There are two, four, six and eight panel doors made of Oak, Pine, Walnut and Cherry, to name just a few. Plus solid wood or hollow construction doors, and they all come either finished or unfinished, i.e. pre-oiled, waxed or varnished… or left natural. As you can imagine making the right choice can be a challenge, and most people tend to base their final decision on the appearance and cost.
About Pre-finished Interior Doors
If you’ve chosen pre-finished doors, you can usually find out which stain, if any, and oil, wax or varnish finish the doors have been treated with by checking the manufacturer’s paperwork. If not, it’s a good idea to ask the seller or even the manufacturer themselves. It’s also worth asking if they can either supply the wood stain and finishing products used on the doors, or know someone who can. It comes in useful to have some handy, just in case the door ever gets damaged.
About Unfinished Interior Doors
Unfinished doors come with a world of possibilities aside from the door style itself. There are countless final finish choices, everything from a traditional natural Oak look with a matt or soft satin sheen to something unusual, even unique. And there’s a huge variety of wood finishing products to use on interior doors, both clear and coloured, including varnishes, wood oils, waxes and stains.
Things To Be Aware Of When Finishing Internal Doors
A common issue we encounter at Wood Finishes Direct are calls from people who’ve bought veneered wooden interior doors, only to discover the door label advises against some types of wood finish. Sometimes they warn against specific products, for example Danish Oil, Teak Oil and other types of wood oil. Other times the manufacturer’s warnings cover a range of products including oils, varnishes and waxes. But does it really mean you can’t use the products and if so, do you risk damaging the wood? It’s an interesting point, and one worth covering.
What is a veneer?
Veneered wooden doors are usually made from a hollow or solid wooden core. The core is usually particle board or medium density fibreboard, AKA MDF. A layer of high quality wood veneer is attached to the core of the door using powerful glues and bonding agents. The quality of modern veneered doors is usually down to the type of core, the type of wood and the thickness of the veneer.
About 20th century mass production
Wood veneers have been used for centuries to produce high quality finishes. But mass production in the mid to late 20th century saw quality take a tumble as the drive for cheaper, thinner veneers and glues took hold. This sometimes led to the veneers de-laminating, in other words peeling off the doors in extreme heat or when certain products were used. This is why so many manufacturers today include disclaimers on their products to discourage the use of products they believe might have an effect on the veneer. It’s an historical thing.
Why do manufacturers still warn against using wood finishes on veneered doors?
More than 90% of veneered doors these days come from the Far East. We think it’s highly likely that all the manufacturers in the Far East have taken the lead from one large original producer, giving warnings about wood finishing products without checking whether the risk is genuine. Unlike the manufacturers, we’re well placed to talk about wood finishes – it’s our area of expertise. We supply a vast range of different products from different manufacturers, all of whom agree that stains, waxes, varnishes, oils, paints and so on DO NOT penetrate deeper than 1mm into a veneer.
Why does the thickness of the veneer matter? In reality, modern veneers are rarely less than a millimetre thick and because modern wood finishes never penetrate more than a millimetre into the surface of the wood, there’s very little chance of them interacting with the glue that bonds the veneer to the core of the door. In short, unless the veneer is very badly worn indeed, modern wood finish products simply can’t penetrate deeply enough to cause the veneer to peel off.
Modern wood finishing products designed for veneers
In our experience we’ve never come across anyone using a wood oil, wax or varnish that has caused the veneer to peel off a door. It just doesn’t happen. In fact companies like Osmo and our own Manns brand produce door oils and other wood finishes specifically designed for solid and veneered interior doors.
There’s just one common sense thing to bear in mind: while we can say with confidence that the products we sell are perfectly fine to use on interior doors, using them against the manufacturers advice will invalidate the warranty that comes with the door.
Always do a test patch first
Our advice if you want to stain, oil, wax or varnish any sort of door? Always do a test area first, ideally on an edge or on the door bottom where the wood can be cleaned or sanded if the product doesn’t deliver the finish you were expecting.
Follow the manufacturers instructions on the packaging, take the time needed to do a really good job and you can’t go far wrong. After all, because you use your doors dozens of times a day, it’s important to be happy with the end result.