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How To: Revive a Threshold

how to revive a threshold

What part of your house suffers more abuse than any other? Nope, it’s not your siding, or kitchen counters, or even your roof. It’s a small part that is so often overlooked and forgotten…your front door threshold.

Is there anything else that gets walked on multiple times a day, sits half inside and half outside so it’s subject to wild temperature swings and inclement weather? When you go for a trip you drag your suitcase over it and scratch the finish. A wood threshold takes a beating like a rookie getting in the ring with Mike Tyson.

After just one season it can look pretty ugly and uneven, and if you let it go too long it can create a lot of work down the line to bring it back into alignment. That threshold is part of your home’s curb appeal and first impression for visitors. So, I’m gonna show you a quick One Day DIY project sponsored by my friends at Minwax® to bring that threshold back to life and add some easy beauty to your entryway.

Refinishing a Wood Threshold

As long as you still have some finish remaining on your threshold the work is pretty easy for any DIYer. If you have a weathered and grey threshold then you’ll need to do some more serious sanding until you get back to healthy wood and remove the grey wood. If that’s the case, start with 80-grit paper and work your way up till you get to the state I’m starting with.

Step #1 Remove Door Sweep

If you’ve got a door sweep or door bottom you’ll need to remove it so it doesn’t interfere with the new finish you’ll be applying on the threshold. This also allows you to close the door without concern between coats to keep that AC or heat bill from blowing up on you.

Step #2 Sand

Using 120-grit sandpaper, sand the threshold until you have a nice even appearance. You will likely have a rougher finish on the exterior portion compared to the interior since it gets more exposure to the elements. You want to ensure the color and the feel of the threshold is consistent throughout.

Step #3 Clean & Mask

Vacuum up the sanding dust and wipe the threshold down with a tack cloth to remove any remaining dust. Apply some blue or green painter’s tape to the areas surrounding the threshold on the floors and on the jamb and casings to keep the finish only where you need it.

Step #4 Stain (optional)

If you had to sand far enough that you lost that beautiful color you wanted to keep then now is the time to apply a stain. If you are staining, just make sure that every bit of the old finish has been removed. Stain will not penetrate through old finishes and can only be applied to bare wood.

I recommend applying an oil-based stain like Minwax Oil-Based Stain in the famous yellow can. There are a multitude of colors to choose from and you can mix and match colors to tweak and get just the color you want. I outline my stain matching process in this post right here.

Using a cotton cloth wipe the stain on and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping off the excess. Let it dry until you can wipe a clean rag across the surface and not pick up any stain on the rag (usually 2-6 hours depending on temperature and humidity).

Step #5 Apply Spar Urethane

revive threshold

Now it’s time to finish your threshold. For exterior woodwork I recommend using Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane. Spar urethane is different than regular polyurethane and I’ve outlined all the differences in this earlier post. The main differences are that spar urethane is designed for exterior woodwork because it contains UV blockers and is more flexible. Both of these are so important if you want your finish to last.

The sun is brutal to wood finish and the constant swelling and shrinking of the wood means that regular polyurethane is just not up to the task. Right products, right results!

Using a natural bristle brush apply an even coat of the spar urethane, clean up and drips and let it dry. Working with an oil-based finish like this is very forgiving since it has a slower drying time and that helps avoid brushmarks and other imperfections. Let it dry 24 hrs before walking on the threshold.

If you find you need additional coats then let it dry 4 hours before a light sanding with 220-grit page or a sanding sponge, clean with a tack cloth, and apply another coat. If you’re just recoating then one refreshing coat should be fine. If you went down to bare wood then you’ll need three full coats which can still be done in just one day if you start early.

That’s it! A simple, one day DIY that anyone can use with very user-friendly products. Minwax makes it easy to do lots of projects like this around your house to keep it looking great for very little expense. If you want to check out more projects like this go check them out here.

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