Exterior Decorating: Painting External Doors
The most important part of exterior decorating is the work of finishing doors, especially the front door. Although every part of the outside of a house should be done thoroughly and carefully a front door should be given extra special treatment; not only is the front door the first part of the house that welcomes visitors, but it is usually subject to much more wear than any other part of the house. The first part of the job of repainting a front door consists of carrying out any necessary repairs such as renewing weather-boards and tightening slack hinges, etc. The metal fittings attached to the door are best removed completely before starting the work of cleaning down.
If the old surface is in fairly reasonable condition and is not badly blistered or cracked, the cleaning down may consist of washing the paintwork with sugar-soap, and rubbing it down with waterproof glass-paper lubricated with water. Any rough patches should be cut down, smoothed with pumice-stone and all the paintwork should be rinsed to remove every trace of sugar-soap, and sanding and pumice dust. Every part of the surface to be repainted should be gone over carefully to finish with a velvety smoothness; frequent use of the duster should be made when cleaning down to prevent any loosened dust, etc., being rubbed into the surface.
After preliminary cleaning down, the work should be allowed to dry thoroughly before the next treatment. This consists of coating any knots, bared in rubbing down, with shellac knotting. Knotting is best applied with a fitch which should be reserved only for this job. The knotting should be applied evenly to cover the knot and a small area surrounding it. If the knotting is too thick or if it is allowed to run, this may show through the finishing coat. The fitch used for knotting is cleaned by washing it in methylated spirit, then washing with warm soapy water. Any bared patches of the woodwork should be coated with pink priming paint, or aluminium primer, and priming should also be brushed into any cracks and holes before they are filled. If patches of priming are applied to the surface, the edges of each patch should be well brushed out to avoid the formation of thick raised edges which may be visible under the finishing coat of paint.
The priming should be allowed to dry and harden before rubbing it down with new, grade middle-two glass-paper. All deep holes and cracks should be filled with fresh putty; this should be well pressed into holes and crevices, smoothed level with the surface then lightly brushed with a dusting-brush. Any shallow holes and grain markings should be filled in with a patent powder-of the type used for repairing plastered walls. The should be applied with a broad stripping knife and it should be allowed to dry thoroughly before rubbing it down with worn grade middle-two glass-paper. Special attention should be paid to edges, corners and quirks in mouldings to ensure that every part of the surface is thoroughly prepared.
After cleaning down, good use should be made of the dusting-brush to remove every particle of loose material before applying the first undercoat. All outside work should be done in reasonably fine weather conditions — outside paint should not be applied if the weather is damp, or if there is a high wind that may blow dust on to the paint before it has hardened. This weather wisdom applies particularly to front doors. The undercoating used should be of a suitable colour to provide a good base for the finishing coats. The brushes should be clean. When painting front doors, take special care to tuck the bristles of the brush well in the corners of the work, and also in laying off carefully.
The sequence of work in painting a front door is illustrated right, which also shows which parts of the door and frame should be coated with the outside. Leave the first undercoating to dry and harden, then rub down briskly with a piece of new grade middle-two glass-paper, taking particular care with edges and corners. Check the fillings and renew any that need topping up. Dust the door and framework before applying the second undercoating, which may consist of a mixture of the paint used for the first undercoating and the finishing paint, up to half the volume of finishing paint of hard gloss or enamel.
The second undercoating should also be left to harden before rubbing it down, and again the work should be carefully dusted before applying the finishing coat. The finishing paint should be well stirred and applied with a clean brush. Extra care should be taken in laying off all the surfaces of the door. The sequence of application of the finishing coat is the same as for the undercoats. Usually two undercoats and one finishing coat will be sufficient for outside work, but the surfaces may be given extra protection, especially in the case of a front door, by following the finishing coat with one or two coats of oil. It should, of course, be appreciated that does slightly darken the under colour.