It is so cold in my house that the bottles of water I have for drinking are frozen solid.  I thought with the box gutters repaired, sealing the gaping holes to outside, the house would retain some sense of warmth.  WRONG!  I went to take some quick measurements for the master bathroom tile and within 30 minutes my finger tips were numb under double gloves.

It is also freezing in the garage of my current house.  I bought a propane heater that does nothing to heat the garage, so my basement has once again been transformed into a workshop and I’ve started reviving the doors.  I could have called this post “The Tell of Two Methods”.  Some of the doors have graffiti on them and weeks ago I was at Ace Hardware in Clifton and asked about removing graffiti from wood doors and I was advised I’d need to strip and sand.  I was at Woodcraft to get epoxy for my stain glass window frame and they recommended Star 10 Stripper, which I immediately went home and tried.


Almost instantly the graffiti wiped away, so I thought I have my game plan, strip, sand, stain, poly, re-hang.  BUT then my dad sent me a YouTube video (I told you YouTube is a DIYers best friend) that showed how to restore a salvage door.  They made an old door look new in a an hour with denatured alcohol, steel wool, and Restor-a-Finish.  I had to give it a try, so I started with the door I tested the stripper on.

Turns out the alcohol also removes graffiti, with some scrubbing effort and more time, but it does not remove the finish.  Unfortunately my stripper test area stood out, so I decided it would be best to strip this side of the door.  Since it is obvious the stain on this door is deeply embedded I am absolutely NOT sanding any of the doors.  After applying and quickly scrapping off the stripper, I went over the door again with the alcohol and steel wool.




20180106_144248The door looked amazing at that point, so I could not wait to rub on the Restor-a-Finish.  Ebony Brown is the darkest color they make.  It’s hard to tell from the picture to the right of the can, but the door did look less dry after a coat of the Restor-a-Finish.  My plan to poly was negated due to the instructions on the can stating to not apply polyurethane on top of the product.  Instead they recommended following with their wax product.


I didn’t buy the wax product, so instead I wiped the door with Boiled Linseed Oil.  Oh my goodness, like lotion on an ashy body that door brightened up and looks absolutely 20180106_182737beautiful.  You can see all the “weathered” imperfections that are the norm for a 94-year-old door.  I can definitely see where the stripper had more time to process in certain areas (they are lighter), so I probably won’t buy the Star 10 again.  If I do decide to do this hybrid practice of stripping, alcohol, and Restor-a-Finish on the other doors, than I will find and use a less potent/fumey stripper.

I’ll give tonight to let this side dry and tomorrow I’ll work on the other side trying only the alcohol and Restor-a-Finish process.  I suspect I will need to strip the shiny finish off, but now that I know I won’t have to deal with sanding and staining I’m thrilled.

This door was the original door at the base of steps leading to the attic space.  It is the exact size of the entry foyer closet door that was damaged beyond repair, so once I figure out how to change the swing you’re looking at the new entry foyer door.  This is the outer side of the door, so no hiding any mistakes or flaws.

One thing I’ve learned for sure is cleaning up the floor moulding and door/window trim is going to be a piece of cake.


  1. The door looks awesome. Very exciting.
    The weather is supposed to be “warmer” tomorrow, so hope that makes it easier for you, and maybe your water bottles will defrost.

  2. The door really looks good Venus and the color you selected it the right color tone for the trim, doors and window casings in your home. Hope you can match both the upstairs and downstairs the same stain color that would be nice. Glad that you can save yourself a lot of refinishing time with the process from the YouTube vidoe I sent to you!

  3. The door turned out beautiful!! Can’t wait to see your house when you are completely done!!! Keep up the good work!

  4. You go, Venus! Sounds like we are sharing the same method – I’ve been using stripper, then alcohol & steel wool on my oak trim. But I’ve been finishing with an amber shellac.

    So happy to see you tackling all the challenges with grace & persistence! The house will be beautiful!!


    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Thanks Chris. So funny that you responded to this as I just asked a friend that works for a dentist if she could help me buy a set of teeth cleaning tools to remove small particles out of wood. I remembered when you let me tour your house saying you used something similar. I made a terrible mistake on the frame for my stain glass window by putting wood putty in small cracks (used epoxy in the larger ones). Well wood putty does not take stain like the package states, especially after it hardens.

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