Fiberglass Doors – Why I Picked It and How to Stain
During our recent courtyard makeover, we had two projects that we couldn’t do ourselves. The first was running the electrical wire to our new outdoor post lights – I don’t do electrical work for the most part – and the second was installing our new side door. This door was in such bad shape that it literally had water coming through the wood whenever it rained. Not like, around the seal, but through the door. So, needless to say it was in desperate need of being replaced. So, after doing some research we decided fiberglass doors were the way to go, and I am so happy with the results. Like, so happy that I want to replace all the doors in our house with fiberglass doors.
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So, like I said the door before was shot. We get a ton of sun shining directly onto this door here in Oklahoma. Like, crazy 30 days in a row of 100 degrees and sun shines on it the whole time. With no storm door and no overhang, the door was ruined. So, we had originally decided to put a new door on with a new storm door. But, I actually am not a fan of storm doors. I don’t really like the look of them and it’s one more thing to clean.
So, the new trend is fiberglass doors. We started looking at them and talked to our contractor, who we totally trust and doesn’t sell doors, and our local hardware store and decided to give fiberglass doors a try. They are way more energy efficient than wood, as well as being weather proof and eliminating the need for a storm door. They are also more durable than steel. If you kick a fiberglass door, it won’t dent or ding. Plus, unlike a steel door it looks exactly like wood, and you can stain it (although it’s a little more complex than staining a wood door). Even though fiberglass is a bit more expensive, it was actually more affordable than a new wood door with a storm door added. So, that why we decided to go with fiberglass.
The one downside is that a fiberglass is a bit more work to stain. But, I think it’ll be so worth it because I am supposed to not have to do this again. So, let’s talk about how to stain fiberglass doors.
Materials and Tools Needed
So, to start with the main think you need to know is that you have to use a gel based stain on fiberglass, not regular wood stain. This gel stain is amazing and won’t chip or scratch like a wood door wood. After you gather your materials, you’ll want to make sure your door is crystal clean. I used this Rustoleum Tack Cloth to get of any residue or little tiny pieces of lint off the door. I stained mine right after it was installed, so it was pretty clean, but I still made double sure just in case.
Please take off the door knob. This is such a pet peeve of mine. It’s so easy just to remove the doorknob, yet I see all these “tricks” on how to paint around it. You’ll never get such a clean, finished look as you will just taking the door knob off.
Next I mixed up the gel stain. Use gloves! I have a habit of running around looking like I have a scary illness because my hands are constantly stained because I don’t use gloves. *I used Minwax Pro Series Wiping Stain in Antique Black that can only be found at Lowes. You have to mix it really well. Once it’s all mixed up, start applying it with the paintbrush.
The gel is way thicker than stain, so you have to work it in a bit and you will use the rag to wipe off the excess when it gets to be too thick. I ended up wiping a lot onto the rags. It takes a little more elbow grease to work it in, but the coverage is stellar.
I did two coats. You have to let it dry 6-8 hours between coats and after the second or third coat is dry, you’ll need to seal it. You’ll need an outdoor safe urethane and I used Helsman Spar Urethane from Minwax in a satin finish. Apply it the same way as the stain, but this one only needs a few hours dry time between coats.
That’s pretty much it. Not so bad, and totally worth it. Look at that finish! It’s so pretty I can’t hardly take it.
I had to paint around the door a little, but that was easy. Now, I just have to find a new light. Get a tutorial on how I built the planters here.
Sound off below if you have any questions. See ya next week!
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My door is currently painted red, how can I change it to stain it wood color??
You are unfortunately going to have to strip it if it is painted. It is very hard to go back to wood after paint has been applied. Is it fiberglass or wood?
The builders used regular stain on my door and it is not wearing well. Can I use gel stain over it?
Oh no! Honestly, I’m not sure. I would sand it down, but I know that’s a pain. I think if the stain is peeling, though, you are going to want to sand it down.
My builder used Minwax stain in Espresso to stain the front door of my home. After 4 yrs. it was faded out. I cleaned the door, lightly sanded and cleaned it again. I used General Finishes Java Gel Stain and it came out just like new.
Good to know!
Can I put stain on top of varnish without stripping it? It is in pretty good shape yet but too dark in color and I was hoping I could lighten it a bit with gel stain and then apply more varnish on top o fit but am worried it will peel of .
I don’t think that will work, the stain isn’t going to make it lighter and you are not going to like the color. I think you are going to have to strip it. 🙁
would you mind sharing the brans of fiberglass door you used. Did it have a primer of some sort before you stained it with the gel stain. You did and awesome job.
Thank you, I don’t know the brand but we purchased the door at Lowes.
What do you recommend for staining smooth fiberglass?
We have chosen unfinished Patio French Doors that provide larger window width.
We want stain them in a rich (dark Mahogany?) Brazilian Wood finish .
The exterior door is only available in a smooth fiberglass.
We plan to use Brazilian Wood Casing to frame the doors.
Can you recommend a way to stain these doors?
Staining smooth fiberglass is very difficult. If this technique doesn’t work, I haven’t had much luck other than that.
My fiberglass door is painted white. Do you think I will need to strip/sand it first?
Probably not, but it will always last longer if you do. Is it painted or white fiberglass?
We built a new home two years ago and our fiberglass door was stained, I don’t know what type of stain or clear coat was used. It gets a lot of morning sun and is already very faded and wearing off in some places. I’m thinking I can clean it (I’ve heard not to sand fiberglass, but I think a very fine grit used lightly would be okay), and use gel stain and spar urethane. My question is, how do you handle leaving the door open for a day to allow for everything to dry between coats and before closing the door? We also don’t have a storm door and I don’t want critters getting in. I’ve already survived a snake somehow getting my my last house! Thanks for a fellow Okie!
It is taking a long time for the gel stain to dry. almost 24 hours and it’s still coming off when I touch. Worried I should have waited for it to be warmer. Any tips?
Can I stain a primed fiberglass door?
Great FYI on staining Fiberglass Doors. But, do you use the Oil-Based or Water-Based Helmsman Satin Polyurethane?