How to strip a door to refinish

Follow our helpful process here to make your next project a success and keep your door looking beautiful for longer.


Time Required: 24 hours or more      Difficulty:  Intermediate

Time Required: Icon_Time6_1d_2d_85gray-1 Difficulty: Icon_DiffLevel2_85gray-1


Tools Required

  1. Phillips-head screw driver Icon_ScrewDriver_85gray-1
  2. Hammer Icon_Hammer_85gray-1
  3. Putty knife Icon_PuttyKnife_85gray-1
  4. Pliers Icon_PlierSet_85gray-1
  5. Painters/masking tape Icon_MaskingTape_85gray-1
  6. Paint brushes Icon_PaintBrush_85gray-01-1
  7. Nylon bristle brush Icon_PaintBrush_85gray-01-1
  8. Rags Icon_Rags_85gray-1
  9. Bucket of mild soap & water Icon_SoapyWater_85gray-1

Materials Required

  1. Methylene-chloride based stripper
  2. Saw horses


Step 1) Place door on saw horses


Once your door has been removed from the doorway, place it on top of two saw horses. Be sure to remove any hardware and tape-off any glass if applicable.

NOTE: Hinge-pins cannot be removed from out-swing doors so this process can be done with the door still installed. But be sure to remove the weather strip in this instance.


Step 2) Remove the door sweep


Using the putty knife and pointing away from you, carefully separate the door sweep from the door. Use your pliers to remove any remaining staples. 


Step 3) Apply stripping agent


Begin with the glass panels (if applicable), then raised sections of the door, then the rest of the door. In small sections, apply the stripping agent with your paint brush. Gloves are recommended to protect your hands from any harsh chemicals. We recommend that the stripper only be applied to the surface of the door for 2-3 minutes.


Step 4) Remove the finish


With the nylon brush, rub the stripper into the door surface in a circular motion, loosening up the old finish.


Then, using a clean rag, wipe the stripper and old finish off of the door surface. Repeat this process across the entire surface of the door.


Step 5) Clean the door


Using mild soap and water, scrub the entirety of the door to remove any left over stripper or stubborn stain. Ensure the surface is totally clean and dry before attempting to re-finish.

NOTE: To see the entire re-finishing process, see our Same-Day Stain article.