How to Treat Oak Doors

Updated April 17, 2017

Oak is one of the most common and widespread types of wood used in construction, architecture and interior design. The main reasons for oak's extensive use are its great density, strength and hardness, along with excellent resistance to fungi and insects. However, oaken items need to be regularly protected and treated, just like every other wood. If you have oak doors in your home, you may be surprised and pleased to learn that the proper care and maintenance of oaken wood is not difficult.

Prepare your oak door for treatment by removing it from the doorjamb by its hinges. Insert a screwdriver into the bottom of the hinge, then tap it with a hammer. This way you will tap the pins all the way up, making it possible to lift and detach the doors from the hinges. If you want to make this step easier, ask for help when lifting and removing the door. Note that natural oak it pretty heavy and that you are most likely going to need an extra pair of hands for this part of the process.

Place the removed oak door in a workshop, garage or outside. Make sure that the door is safely positioned and stable, on either a flat work table, a pair of sawhorses or another suitable work surface.

Apply masking tape all around the edge, or the side, of your oak door.

Apply a coat of water-based stripper on the surface of the oak door. There are many different types of wood strippers on the market; for oak it is best to choose a gel stripper. For application of the stripper, use a thick but soft paintbrush. It is always a good idea to use a wide brush made from natural fibres.

Wait for the stripper to work on the surface of your door by following the instruction on the package. Every wood stripper has a recommended time needed to work through the old paint coat.

Remove the stripper from the surface of your oak door with a special nylon scraper. Scrape along the wood fibres is straight, slow movements and dispose of the scraped residue in a metal container. When you scrape the whole surface, close the lid on the container and dispose of the old finish residue responsibly.

Wipe the remaining old finish from the surface using a steel wool pad. Make sure not to miss a spot and to wipe every part of your oak door with equal force.

Rinse the whole surface of your oak door using a cloth soaked in a mineral spirit solution. This will ensure that even the slightest remains of the old finish will be effectively and completely stripped off the door. Leave the oak door to dry thoroughly before going to the next step.

Treat the surface of your oak door with sandpaper, following the grain and using light and careful movements. Use a fine grit sandpaper since the final results needs to be a smooth and polished surface. After sanding, make sure to remove any remaining dust with a thick brush or a cloth. If you leave tiny pieces of wood or even fine dust, the refinishing process will look bumpy and uneven.

Apply a layer of quality, clean oak finish to the surface of your door. Use a fine and soft brush, but make sure it's wide and thick so that the coat can be applied as quickly as possible. Move the brush slowly, in long and even strokes, following the oak grain and wood pattern. Apply as many thin and light coats as the package suggests, always allowing a recommended period of time for drying in between.

Leave the oak door to dry thoroughly after the last coat of the clear finish. Only after the door is completely dry and the finish is hardened can you hang the door back in the doorjamb.


If you want to, you can add a little colour to the finish. There are products that can add or enhance a certain shade or tint in oak surfaces.


Always wear protective latex gloves when working with aggressive substances and chemicals, especially if your skin is sensitive.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Sawhorse
  • Masking tape
  • Water-based stripper gel
  • Thick soft brush
  • Nylon scraper
  • Steel wool
  • Cloth
  • Mineral spirit
  • Sandpaper
  • Clear oak finish
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About the Author

Based in New Jersey, Susan Raphael has been writing technology-related articles since 1991. Her work has appeared in “Wired” magazine, and “Mac Addict” magazine. Raphael received the Janet B. Smith Literary Award in 2002. She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from New York University.