A Foolish Thing, But My House Is Clean

I’ll own it. I messed up, literally.

Our solid wood front door was in need of attention. I decided to sand and stain it myself, as long as the house was getting painted. Just the outside face, because the inside and sides are fine.

En-TER!!!
En-TER!!! This will eventually be impressive again.

There were a few different finishes on it. I think it had been touched up by previous owners, and the product did not match the original. Some of the varnish was peeling off, the grain was slightly raised, and it just looked, well, sad. The storm door bottom vent allowed weather to discolor the door, so a few years ago I installed a brass kick plate because my boys use the front door daily, and to cover up the ugly.

I have a Dremel, and a 1/4 sheet sander, and I know how to use them both for more than Pinewood Derby cars. A couple weeks ago, I taped up the floor vent, turned on the shop vac and the Dremel, and gently sanded the carved design, while the door was still hanging. It is a super heavy door, and I was fine sitting on a stool. That went well.

Last week I got replacement sander pads on Wednesday afternoon and couldn’t begin the flat sanding until Thursday, when my teenage helper-son was at school. So the door (super heavy) was staying in the house for this. I did take it off the hinges and put it flat in the front hall. But I underestimated the amount of sand it would generate. Foolish, foolish me.

Now looking at the door, I can see how much more flat surface there is than the carved area. Doh!

There was so much dust in my house, it looked like smoke. I’m actually surprised the smoke alarm didn’t go off. The dust went into the entire first floor, under the closed doors to the laundry room and powder room, into the back family room, all over the dining room, and into the kitchen. The dust also went up the stairway, into the carpet, of course, and all over the handrails.

Now that was foolish. I shop vac-ed the hallways, swept the kitchen, and almost cried. Then I came up with a recovery plan for the mess.

I vac-ed the dust from the walls (seriously, there were waves of brown 3′ up), dusted, Swiffered, mopped, deep vac-ed the carpet, rugs, steps, and furniture. The vents in adjoining rooms got inspected and cleaned out. And I cleaned all the glass twice, the storm door three times, and the light fixtures a couple of times.

Since the dust had gone under the closed doors, I totally scrubbed the powder room (a weekly chore, anyway), took care of the laundry room, and vac-ed the closet (fortunately the carpet is not worn there, and it blocked the dust). I cleaned the kitchen and mopped the floor for the second time in as many days. Drapes got a shake. Everything got cleaned. Then it got cleaned again. My fall cleaning is mostly done now.

So, the carved area needs a little touch-up, and the flat sanding is done. Raw wood, my friends. I’m not sure about that stain on the upper right; the more I sanded it, the larger it got. But the panel inset areas (darker in the photo above, surrounding flats) still need sanding, and I’m afraid that’s going to have to be done by hand. Ugh. The finish is not shredding off, like the other areas, so I think I may be able to scuff up the coating, without taking off as much as I have so far. There are LOTS of different levels, curves and surfaces in those panel areas. I am going to wear gloves, and I am going to need a serious manicure after this.

But in light of my goof, I plan to sand the rest while it is still hanging, with the door closed. That means I’ll be sitting on the front porch with the storm door propped open. Which means I’ll have to wait till after the painters are done and gone. I’m not going to rush it, but I do want it stained and sealed in the next couple of weeks.

So far this project has cost me $16, for tack cloths, and pre-stain treatment and stain/sealer/topcoat which haven’t been used yet. I also got a new bottom weatherstrip for $7 (maintenance), and a new sander pad for .92 (tool). We had lots of sandpaper and Dremel bits.  The cost for a similar new front door and installation would have been at least $1,000, and it still would have needed to be sanded and stained!

Not so foolish a project, but you can bet I’ll be thinking things through a little more in the future. And my house is clean, so, “It all worked out really well.” So far. Stay tuned.

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