How to restore your front door

The front door gives a first impression of your home to visitors, as well as a taste for what's to come on the inside. Make it a positive reception using our step-by-step guide to how to restore your front door, with expert tips from Helaine Clare

sage green toned front door from bespoke front door
(Image credit: Bespoke Front Door)

Do you need to restore your front door? Bear in mind that the front door gives a first impression of your home to visitors, as well as a taste for what's to come on the inside, so keeping it in the best condition possible is important for the overall look of your property.

Over time, a natural hardwood front door can, over time, start to look a little shabby and tired. Cracks and flaking paint on the frame don’t do your home exterior any favours, and the letterbox and door knocker might have started to look tarnished. 

But, it's much easier to restore your front door on a DIY basis than you might expect. Preparation and specialist knowledge are key, which is where our step-by-step instructions from expert Helaine Clare come in hand. All that lays between you and a perfectly restored front door is a little time and patience... 

For more decorating and restoration advice, visit our dedicated decorating hub page. Decided your front door is beyond restoration? Our guide to how to choose a new front door is your best bet.

 You will need:

1. Revive the front doorstep 

Strip any flaking faded paint from the doorstep, ready for a new coat. Rather than use a general-purpose stripper, I like a product formulated to remove a specific finish, such as NB- 510 from Strippers Paint Removers. 

 2. Repair the front door case 

Remove all loose and flaking paint from the door case. A brass brush can be useful for this job but a steel brush will scratch soft stone. A steel scraper can be used with care – hold at a slight angle to avoid digging into the stone. Fill cracks and gaps with lime mortar (sand and lime putty mixed). 

3. Apply limewash to the stone

Modern masonry paint prevents old stone ‘breathing’. Instead I used ready-prepared limewash, spraying the stone with water before applying. Paint on three to four further coats and allow a day in between for limewash to dry. Wear protective goggles as limewash splashes can damage eyes.

 4. Polish brass door furniture 

Protect the wood by fixing masking tape around the edges of the letter plate. Tarnished metal can be cleaned using Liberon’s Brass & Copper Cleaner rubbed lightly with very fine steel wool. Rinse and dry. Maintain shine with Liberon’s Brass & Copper Polish. Finally, protect with a film of clear wax polish. 

 5. Clean off grime and old wax 

: Get rid of old wax finishes, dirt and grime from the wood door. Soak a wad of fine steel wool (0000) in Liberon Wax & Polish Remover and gently wash the wood following the grain. Wait a few minutes and wipe away the dirt with a clean cotton cloth. Keep changing the face of the cloth so you take the dirt off.

6. Put on new bell push

Remove plastic bell push and replace with one suitable for a period house. We found a Georgianstyle brass model at Dartington Steel Design. Electric doorbell systems work off either a mains or battery power source. If yours is run from mains electricity use an electrician to carry out modifications. 

7. Condition the door with oil 

Apply Liberon Pure Tung Oil with a brush or cloth. Allow the oil to penetrate and wipe off any remaining on the surface after 30 minutes (surplus oil will turn sticky). For oak doors and exposed wood apply four coats allowing 24 hours in between. Rub gently with fine steel wool in between applications.

8. Seal gaps against the rain 

First, ensure surfaces are clean, dry and non-greasy. Place the sealant nozzle against the gap between woodwork and masonry ensuring it touches both sides. Apply by squeezing trigger and running cartridge slowly along the gap. If necessary, while sealant is still wet, smooth finish with a wet spatula. 

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