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A Painted Front Door

So….front doors. It’s one of the first things people notice about your house, one of the first thing that tells visitors anything about the people who live inside.  Our door didn’t tell people much…it didn’t tell them that I like color, nor did it tell them that Adam is a wood snob. The only thing our front door really told people is that we have a dog that likes to scratch. Except that we don’t.

Entryway....what to do with door?

Now it IS a nice door… but the finish was terrible, scratched to pieces, and looks like a dark hole from the street.

Curb Appeal Before & Progress

Earlier this summer I did a couple posts about our front yard and porch and asked y’all what the heck I should do about my eyesore of a door. The overwhelming response is that I should paint it, and ya’ll suggested every color of the rainbow.

I thought about it for a while and narrowed it down to either red, blue, or refinishing the wood. Then one day Adam and I were taking the boys for a walk around the block and I started paying attention to everyone’s front doors. I started to notice a trend…no one around here is very bold with their color choices. Around the whole block there were only three different color doors…wood, tan, or red. But not bright red, more of a brownish red. Us country folk really like things to be the same shade as dirt, evidently. That’s when I decided that blue was my color.

Then we waited four months for the weather to cool down enough to remove the door for a day. Patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue…

October hit and so did 80 degree temperatures, and off came the door.

Refinishing the front door

I only wanted to paint the outside of the door, the inside was going to be refinished wood. Adam sanded it all down and put on a coat of tung oil, and it looked pretty. Like, really pretty.

So we lugged it back to the giant hole in our house so Adam could try to convince me not to paint it.

painting/refinishing a front door

I almost agreed because it looked so dang nice. Who knew there was beautiful wood hiding behind all that ugly dark stain?

But atlas, I wanted blue. I wanted color. I wanted a door that wasn’t a color similar to dirt.

So I painted it Aspiring Blue by Behr (same as the porch tables and laundry room cabinets), and it was crisp and beautiful.

blue and glass front door (Aspiring Blue by Behr)

painted front door before and after

The end.




Except that this isn’t that blog, the blog where everything goes right.

Here is what actually happened after the door looked crisp and awesome. The paint I used was an eggshell, and I thought it needed a protection to hold up to the outdoor elements. I was out of my beloved polycrylic, but Minwax had sent me a can of this…

Water based polyurathane

Water based, oil-modified polyurathane…whatever that means.

Normally polyurathane is oil based and great stuff, but it yellows on painted surfaces and I only use it on wood that needs to take a beating. Polycrylic is water based, easy to work with, and doesn’t yellow. It’s not quite as bulletproof as polyurathane, but it’s what I usually use as a finish. This can was a weird combination of both. Being an optimist I figured it would be the best of both words – bulletproof like polyurathne but non-yellowing like polycrylic. So I slapped on a coat.

The next morning I went to photograph the door and discovered that not only had it yellowed, it yellowed at warp speed.

yellowing polyurethane

Well…crap. I didn’t want to take the door back off and sand it, so I decided that no one would notice but me. So I left it.

Then Adam noticed. And his brother Taylor noticed. And when the door-to-door evangelists noticed I knew I couldn’t just leave it.

Still rebelliously avoiding sanding I decided to stain right over the poly (paper bag floor style) and turn it into a dirty cowboy masterpiece. If I hated it I could always sand it down, just like I would have had to anyway.

So I gave it a few layers of stain with a brush and a rag (tutorial here) and decided it didn’t look half bad.

dirty paint job

Then I gave it a coat of polycrylic to seal the deal, caulked, and painted the trim a shade lighter than it had been.

Door frame before and after

And here it is!

blue front door distressed with stain

The trim being lighter was a color matching mistake, but I actually really like that my browns don’t quite match. It gives the door another layer of interest.

Cowboy'd front door

front porch

Country house

Here is the before and after…

Front Door Before & After

..and all three so you can properly judge it.

Front door progress

Now the inside.

Refinished front door

Hold on, I can do you one better…

Foyer before and after

So there you have it, my colorful blue front door that somehow still managed to be a shade similar to dirt.

It’s the curse of the country I tell you, dirt colored front doors.

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  1. Ah, polyurethane. I have only recently learned it turns yellow on painted furniture…you know, after I painted three pieces and sealed it with it. They are all now yellow tinged. What can you protect painted furniture with?

    Your door looks great! You are totally on your way to making dirty cowboy an official design term.

  2. Haha, what a great story. I like your third and final result best! The dirty polyurethane/distressing on the turquoise makes it look like a cross between a beach cottage and southwest style done right. I also greatly prefer the dual toned brown trim to the wide solid brown trim, which was bothering me in the initial “after”. Congrats on making great mistakes!

    1. Thanks Julie! I agree, I like the third door best too. Even Adam says it looks “pretty good” and he is still grieving a bit over it not being wood. Whew!

  3. I actually really like the way it turned out…It plays nicely with the door frame AND the porch floor AND the furniture. Before it was all, ‘HEY! IMA BLUE DOOR!’ Now it’s more like ‘Hey baby, why don’t you mosey on over here and check me out..’ Now, that was not exactly what my brain first said, but hey, this is a family show, right?

    1. Haha, I love it. I can’t tell you how often I’m writing a post and ave something hilariously awesome to say, but it’s soooo not appropriate.

  4. What a shame about the beautiful turquoise-blue – I would never ever of thought of painting an exterior door that colour (when I read ‘blue’ the picture in my head was of a royal blue).
    You’ve done an amazing job of saving it though, and I think it really suits the house.
    (Incidently, is it me or has the ‘welcome table’ migrated? I could have sworn it used to be inside the house… )
    Have a great week!

    1. Thanks Gerrie! I agree about the last color suiting the house best. Actually Adam reminded me that he said I should dirty cowboy it this summer (and I shot him down) so I can’t take full credit. I should really listen to him more often!

      The welcome table has never moved, I nailed it into the wall on the porch to ensure that it wouldn’t get drug around by children.

  5. What a great “mistake”! I LOVE the finished product and your stain technique. Looks great in the country but I could definitely picture it looking fabulous here at the shore too!

  6. I actually love the second one the best! But the one you wound up with is nice too, and definitely a big improvement over the original. I can’t believe you have to wait until October to get “down” to the eighties!! Jealous. Well, not jealous in the height of summer, but jealous now! ;)
    Happy thanksgiving! (Here in Canada, that is…)

    1. Yes, be jealous! Haha. I’ll be jealous at Christmas though when you have beautiful festive snow and it’s still in the 80’s here.

      Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to you too :)

  7. Well, I love it! Nice soothing punch of cool color and I actually like the results very much. I would say your door is an eyesore no more!

    Catt in Kentucky

  8. Sometimes our projects take us on a journey and we always learn something from the process. It’s exciting! I think the newly painted door is fantastic but this comes from the one who painted her front door teal/turquoise the first couple of weeks after moving into the neighborhood. As for the oil-modified product I have a can as well. I found out it does a real yellowing number so I will be selective on where I use it.

    1. Yes, I definitely feel like I take away a lesson from each project. And for some reason I really like trying out new ways of doing things even when I already have a way I know will work. I guess I just really like the process!

      Good for you for getting right on that front door! In our next house I’m definitely going to change the order that I do things.

  9. That is an awful product to yellow so badly and so immediately…I wonder what it is actually good for. I am curious why you would need to strip it to change the color, why could you not just paint over the blue/yellow poly?

    1. Yeah, it did yellow crazy fast. I’m sure it’s a fine product if you know what NOT to use it on…like painted surfaces (though I don’t see an advantage over regular polyurethane.) I thought about painting over the yellowed poly, but I’ve never painted over poly before and in my head it wouldn’t stick well. Especially being outdoors, I didn’t want to risk it.

  10. I saw the new “oil-modified” formula when I was shopping for a new can of polyurethane this weekend. I considered it, but now I’m really glad that I stuck with my usual stuff. I try not to think about what our unpainted front door says about us–it’s literally the white factory finish embellished with some scratches and smudges and dents. Fortunately, our house is far enough back from the road that pretty much no one but us sees it. Although admittedly it’s not the friendliest greeting for us to come home to.

    1. I’d say on 129 acres y’all are safe from an overabundance of door judgers :) Adam and I would LOVE to be on that much land…maybe one day. And that stone farmhouse y’all were at for the auction? I want it. Dream house.

      1. I’ll keep my eyes open for a stone house on a big property! The learning curve on managing a big property is a bit steep, but we love it. When we were searching for the farm, there were lots of times where I wondered if we should just settle for 10 acres. I’m so glad that we didn’t. Just be prepared to deal with the questions of what are you going to do with all that land? My answer tends to be “Enjoy it!”

        1. We probably won’t end up on more than 10 acres, only because land around here is so crazy expensive…but a girl can dream! We sometimes get that question now, just wanting lots of land. My answer “not have neighbors!” But really we would just enjoy it, let the boys explore, go hunting, camping, and throw awesome bonfire BBq’s :)

    1. I agree, I wanted the front door to pop and the other one to disappear as much as possible. I mean, who puts two doors right next to each other on the front of a house? That’s just weird.

  11. I NEVER use polyurethane I hate how it yellows. That said I love how your door turned out qutie smart you are to work with what you found. I agree with your hubby the natural wood is gorgeous, but you were right in that it gets lost on your front porche, better to have it on the inside of the door where you can enjoy it more.

  12. I painted mine a similar color by Behr last month too! I love the pop of color on my porch and I totally agree that it says something about me as the homeowner.

  13. I know you SAY the color is blue, but with the yellow stain on it, the color looks more greenish. In fact, to MY eye it looks like copper turned verdigris – which is seriously AWESOME!!!!!

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