How to sand a wood door

Updated February 21, 2017

Over time, wood doors may receive numerous coats of paint. The accumulated paint distorts details engraved in the door and looks unsightly. Sanding the door to bare wood restores the door's look and gives you the option of staining the door. The sanding process involves multiple stages, alternating between mechanical and hand sanding, requiring time and patience. If you are sanding an exterior door, leave enough time to complete the sanding or you will have an exterior opening open overnight.

Insert the tip of a Phillips-head screwdriver into the bottom of the middle hinge. Tap the handle of the screwdriver with a hammer to remove the hinge pin, separating the middle hinge. Repeat the process to separate each door hinge.

Remove the door from the separated hinges. Lay the door flat across two sawhorses and remove the half-hinges from the door with a Phillips screwdriver. Make sure the sawhorses are sitting on a stable surface.

Apply paint remover to the accessible face and sides of the door with a clean 4-inch paintbrush. Allow the paint remover to sit on the painted surface for five to six hours or the time specified on the can of paint remover.

Scrape the surface of the door with a plastic paint scraper. This removes the majority of the paint build-up and eases the sanding process.

Attach a piece of 120-grit sandpaper to the bottom of a palm sander. Sand the sides and flat surfaces of the door, changing the sandpaper when it becomes clogged with paint or dull.

Sand the door and sides with 220-grit sandpaper attached to the palm sander.

Sand the paint from tight areas of the wood door with a sanding sponge.

Flip the top over and repeat the process to remove paint from the other face of the door.

Clean the sanding dust from the wood door with a clean rag.


Wear safety goggles and protective gloves while working with paint remover. Wear safety glasses when sanding to avoid eye injuries.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • 2 sawhorses
  • Paint remover
  • 4-inch paintbrush
  • Plastic paint scraper
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Palm sander
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Sanding sponge
  • Clean rag
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