Interior Doors

Oiled, waxed, painted, varnished or stained, interior doors come in as many types and styles as you can imagine. From basic to ornate, modern  to antique, the one thing that they all share in common is that they all have to deal with the comings and goings, knocks, scuffs, scrapes, and impacts of daily life. So, how do you look after, renovate or restore internal doors?

Knowing about the various types of wood finishes, and their pros and cons, can be hugely beneficial when thinking about cleaning, restoring or renovating any interior door. Protecting and maintaining internal wooden doors will keep them looking great for longer.

Types of Internal Doors

Interior doors are usually categorised by several factors, including their wood type, i.e., hardwood or softwood, their construction, solid wood, engineered, or veneered, and whether they are original, reclaimed, or new. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when finishing or re-finishing any wooden door.

Why you need to know the door type?

When choosing a wood finish for a wooden door, it is important to know what type of construction it is. Some types of door finish may be ideal for solid wood doors but may not be suitable for some types of veneered doors.

Types of door finishes

Let’s explore the various finishes and talk about the pro’s and con’s of each.

Interior door oils

These are by far one of the most popular ways of treating either bare wood, untreated or recently stripped internal doors.

Bare wood or recently stripped doors can be treated with a wide range of interior wood oils. These range from the more traditional oils such as Danish Oil and Linseed Oil to the newer types of Hard Wax Oils.

Traditional oils tend to require more coats and more regular maintenance, whereas Hard Wax Oils offer a more durable, longer lasting finish with just two thin coats.  This is because Hardwax oils are made from a blend of oils, waxes and resins that provide a more durable finish.

Another consideration is how the oil will affect the appearance of the door. Most wood oils will slightly darken the wood to give it an almost damp like appearance. They will also enhance the natural colour and character of the wood grain. Although this is great for most doors, It can draw out the natural yellow / orange character of doors made from pine, which is not to everyone’s taste.
The good news is that there are Door Oils that have been specifically designed to counteract the darkening and colour enhancement that you may get with a standard, clear oil. Find out all you need to know about door oils here.

Varnish for interior wooden doors

Unlike the old, toffee apple looking varnishes of old, modern varnishes are much clearer, user and environmentally safer.

Many varnishes are now water-based rather than solvent-based meaning that they don’t leave a lingering solvent smell for days or weeks. Modern water-based varnishes are also extremely tough, durable and easy to apply making them ideal for internal doors and door frames. Find out all you need to know about varnishes for interior doors here.

Wood waxes for internal doors

Wood waxes have been used to nourish and protect doors for centuries. Clear waxes are great for retaining the untreated look of wooden doors and they also provide a unique, waxy feel to the wood. Coloured waxes are great at staining the wood to give it an aged or period feel, or even just to help a door blend in with the décor of a room.

Although waxes do have a place when it comes to finishing bare wood or recently stripped doors, they aren’t as durable as door oils and varnishes and can be easily scuffed, marked or stained by water and other liquids. For this reason, using a wax on a bathroom or kitchen door is not advisable. Find out all you need to know about wood waxes for doors here.

Interior paints for wooden doors

White, grey, green or pink, there are no limits to the number of colours that can be used to paint interior doors. As with varnishes, most interior paints have moved away from the oil and solvent-based formulas of the past. In terms of white paint, water-based paints don’t tend to yellow like older oil-based paints meaning that white doors stay white for much, much longer.

There is also a new breed of eco-friendly paint options that are made with only natural ingredients and virtually no V.O.C’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) which is great news for those with health conditions or just prefer a cleaner, more eco-friendly way of living.  Find out all you need to know about wood paints for interior doors here.

Wood stain for internal doors

Wood stains fall into two distinct categories. Those that simply colour or stain the wood and those that colour or stain, and seal the wood.

A stand alone wood stain is a liquid carrier, usually solvent or water that carries the pigment or stain. Once applied the solvent or water evaporates leaving the colour pigment in the wood.  These types of stains must be sealed in with a topcoat such as a clear wood oil or varnish.

The second type of wood stains are those that contain the colour or stain but also contain a sealing agent, essentially a varnish or oil. These products are designed to both colour and seal the wood in one process as opposed to being a two step process.  Find out all you need to know about wood stains for doors here.

Wood cleaners for interior doors

Regardless of whether your internal doors have been oiled, waxed, varnished, painted or stained, keeping them clean and free from greasy hand and finger marks is essential to keep them looking their best. Using a dedicated wood cleaner will help to remove scuffs, marks, grease and more whilst helping to protect and preserve the door finish.

Using day-to-day detergents and cleaners can actually degrade or strip the finish from doors over time, leaving the bare wood exposed. Apart from looking patchy, this can allow dirt, dust, and grime to become imbedded within the wood, making doors difficult to clean and maintain. Find out all you need to know about wood cleaners for interior doors here.

How to maintain interior doors

Whilst painted and varnished internal doors are more durable, oiled and waxed doors are easier to maintain, restore and if they become scratched or scuffed, easier to repair. Find out all you need to know about maintaining interior door finishes here.

So, there you have it. a little background information on interior doors, and all you need to know on how best to clean, maintain, and if need be, to re-finish them.

Do you have a wooden floor, real wood kitchen worktop or other wooden fixture or feature in your home? Check-out our other pages on these and more to keep the woodwork in your home clean, protected, and looking amazing.