Exterior clear finish for wood doors - For southern California

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Forum topic by WhoMe posted 05-11-2013 03:39 AM 2711 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1564 posts in 3207 days

05-11-2013 03:39 AM

FIRST, I did a search on this topic and many of the threads are a couple years old. Although there is some good information, No new information is out there. Thus this re-hashed question but now with the added twist of being in southern California with the limited choices of finish.

I have been commissioned to refinish a couple of douglas fir french doors. The doors are exposed to at least morning to midday sun, rain (when we get some) and the normal outdoor weather we get here in Southern California.
The doors currently are showing their age with regards to the finish. Many areas are starting to turn grey, some areas are missing finish altogether and some are just cracking. There is one split that if I can get it cleaned out good should be easily glued together. The preferred finish would be clear but painting them is a distant second.

The plan is to strip the existing finish and try to sand the doors to get rid of the greying wood areas. Gonna be tough on the slats between the windows. If I cannot get rid of the greying, the owners will have me paint them.

SO, now the question is, what kind of clear finish can I use that I can PURCHASE IN THE LOS ANGELES/ORANGE COUNTY area.
With the AQMD crap, pretty much all of the oil based finishes have been pulled off the shelves and replaced with water based finishes. Which says a lot for the durability… not.

Since I have not started the doors yet, I have some time to make sure I have the information and can get a good finish that will last several years. So any suggestions on makes or where may be a good place to purchase these finishes would be greatly appreciated.


-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

8 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5620 posts in 2777 days

#1 posted 05-11-2013 04:26 AM

I have had great luck with Deft Poly on my front door. It is oil based, so you may have to order it online.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View shipwright's profile


7965 posts in 2762 days

#2 posted 05-11-2013 05:16 AM

I’ve always been a fan of Sikkens Cetol line. However when I recently tried to buy some of their marine gloss, which was a very good product I was told that it is no longer available because of the whole VOC thing. They now offer a Cetol Window and Door finish that does come in clear and is low VOC. I have no experience with it but if it is made with the same quality as their previous products it may be worth a look and it may even be available to you in SoCal.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View wbrisett's profile


203 posts in 2312 days

#3 posted 05-11-2013 09:50 AM

I would find a boating supply store, there must be something they use on wooden boats in CA that is allowed. I’m a big fan of McCloskey Man O’War Spar, but I don’t that’s available in CA. :(

I have a similar issue with Texas heat/sun killing the finish on my oak door. And it’s time to refinish it this year. I’m putting McCloskey’s on it.

Update: I did check Jamestown Distributors, they have Z Spar Captain’s Varnish and thinner and will ship to LA, so worst case, looks like you can order a nice Spar (If I didn’t have a gallon of McCloskey’s already, Z Spar would be my second choice).

View WhoMe's profile


1564 posts in 3207 days

#4 posted 05-12-2013 12:04 AM

Thanks for the suggestions.I will take a look.
Personally,I don’t understand why they had to target finishes. I can’t imagine they are really that big of a contributor to the air quality issues. Let’s get real, California is doing its best to run out every business in the state so there cannot be that many left that use oil based finishes.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3107 days

#5 posted 05-12-2013 12:18 AM

WhoMe, here’s some new info. Go to Sherwin Williams and get some latex Resiliance exterior ultra deep base with no tint in it. Try it out on whatever you wish, though it looks like milk coming out of the can it dries clear. Yes, this is an exterior paint, so it has pretty exceptional UV protection. Being latex, Cali shouldn’t have any problem with it. I put it on a corner table I built a year ago, and the rain still beads on it. Make sure you get the ultra deep base. You won’t be sorry.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View WhoMe's profile


1564 posts in 3207 days

#6 posted 05-17-2013 05:36 PM

Nailbanger2 – thanks. I went back over and looked at the doors more closely. The part I need to repair will look ugly when finished as it is a split with dirt in the split. Once I repair it, it will need some filler before finish so in talking with the customer, it has been decided it will get white paint now.
So, I will take a look at the Sherwin Williams stuff as paint too.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View Earlextech's profile


1160 posts in 2654 days

#7 posted 05-17-2013 06:02 PM

The idea that water borne finishes are not as durable as solvent based finishes is so outdated it’s silly. Here’s the truth. When the water evaporates (from water borne finishes) what’s left behind is exactly the same material as when the solvent evaporates (from oil based products). There is no difference in the film left behind. The only difference is in the medium used to carry the finish to the project.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View MNgary's profile


298 posts in 2381 days

#8 posted 05-18-2013 08:11 PM

Alkyd resin varnish made from soya (soybean oil) is what I use on my redwood garage door. Minimal color shift, maximum clarity (not as cloudy as the urethane and the polyurethane varnishes), and the most resistant to UV deteriation.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

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