How to Repair Rotten French Doors

Written by steven sester
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How to Repair Rotten French Doors
Rescue rotted french doors with epoxy polymer restoration products. (Quebec #7 image by Robert Bourgeois from

There may be no need to throw out or replace those rotten French doors. Longtime favourites of both marine and home restorers, epoxy polymer resin wood restoration products are excellent choices for restoring woodwork and preserving antique millwork. They will dry harder than the original wood and can be shaped with hand and power tools. Once hardened and shaped, they can be finished with conventional primers, paints and other finishes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Gouge/chisel
  • Shop vacuum
  • Insecticide
  • Square
  • Clamps
  • Door jig
  • Protective gloves
  • Aspirator
  • Disposable mixing containers
  • Epoxy penetrant
  • Disposable brush
  • Epoxy paste/filler
  • Putty or drywall knife
  • Woodworking tools

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    Prepare for the Restoration

  1. 1

    Gouge or chisel and vacuum out any loose, rotten material. Check for insect infestation and use an appropriate insecticide if needed and wait the recommended time.

  2. 2

    Remove the doors from their hinges and square up and clamp if necessary. Build a simple jig to hold the doors together while the epoxy sets if they are very wobbly.

  3. 3

    Put on protective gloves and an aspirator, especially if working with limited ventilation.

    Apply the Epoxy Penetrant

  1. 1

    Mix the two parts of the epoxy penetrant per the manufacturer's instructions to start a catalytic reaction needed for the resin to cure. It is better to mix the resin in small batches as it may set up quickly and you'll have to throw away what you cannot use.

  2. 2

    Apply one or more coats of the penetrant to all surfaces of the rotted wood, using a disposable, wood or metal-handled brush (the solvents in the resin may react with plastics). Discard the material and mix a new batch if it starts to set up. The penetrant will seep into the spongy, rotten wood and harden as it cures.

  3. 3

    Allow the penetrant to cure completely.

    Fill the Cavity with Epoxy Paste

  1. 1

    Mix the two parts of the epoxy paste/filler per the manufacturer's instructions. Mix small batches to avoid having to discard material that sets up too quickly.

  2. 2

    Fill the rotted-out cavity with the paste/filler, using a putty or drywall knife. Stop and discard the material if it starts to set up and mix a new batch. Fill large cavities in stages rather than all at once. The paste/filler will bond with the penetrated wood fibres to form a solid wood replacement stronger than the original wood.

  3. 3

    Allow the paste/filler to cure completely.

    Shape and Finish the Restoration

  1. 1

    Remove the doors from the jig or clamps if used.

  2. 2

    Shape and sand the epoxy in preparation for finishing, use any conventional woodworking tools.

  3. 3

    Finish with primer, paint or speciality finishes of choice.

  4. 4

    Clean up with a solvent recommended by the manufacturer.

Tips and warnings

  • Always check the expiration dates on epoxy products and never buy more than can be used in a year. Outdated resins may fail to catalyse and will never completely cure.
  • Do not skip the epoxy penetrant. The paste/filler will not seep into the wood on its own and the same results cannot be achieved without it.
  • Colourants may be added to epoxy resins to attempt to match stained wood.
  • Catalysing epoxy resins generate high heat and material that comes in contact with skin may cause burns. Remove promptly.

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