Care and Maintenance Tips for Exterior Doors
When you look at your front door, you might not think too much about caring for it – you walk through the door and lock it behind you, so what’s there to worry about? Well, like any other product in or outside your home, exterior doors last longer and look their best when properly maintained. And because your front door is one of the first features of your house that guests see, you want to make sure you make a good impression. With that in mind, here are some guidelines for maintaining exterior doors:
Cleaning exterior doors
A few times a year, take some time to thoroughly clean your exterior doors on both sides – spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity. If you live in a coastal area, however, you may want to inspect and clean your doors monthly due to higher salt and moisture levels in the air. How you remove dirt from the door matters as well, so follow these tips:
- For steel, fiberglass and wood doors, choose a gentle cleaner, such as diluted dish soap, or baby shampoo.
- Wipe wrought iron doors clean with a mixture of Murphy’s oil soap and water
- Avoid using abrasive tools, as they can scratch your door, leave marks or peel protective coatings – lint-free cloths or sponges are ideal.
- Work on one area of the door at a time.
- Don’t scour the door.
- Prevent water from pooling anywhere on the door – use as little water as possible and absorb excess liquid with a cloth.
- Don’t use a power washer or garden hose to rinse the door, as doing so can cause water to enter your home through the seams.
- Use a household glass cleaner or a vinegar and water solution on glass panels and wipe with paper coffee filters for a streak-free finish.
- Put water in a spray bottle to apply to the door – this reduces how much liquid you’ll use.
Use these instructions for all of your home’s exterior doors, whether it’s the front or back patio entryway.
Along with regular cleaning, make sure you clean up spills right away to avoid staining the door. For persistent stains, either on the glass or the body of the door, you may need to use a stronger cleaner like mineral spirits. Test a little on a part of the door that’s hard to see to ensure it doesn’t discolor the door. Once you’re sure the cleaner is OK to use, blot the stain.
You can use a mixture of baking soda and water to take care of oil or grease marks.
Inspecting exterior doors
In addition to cleaning your exterior doors, you should routinely inspect them for any damage, either to the door itself, the weather stripping, or other components like hardware. This way, you can repair issues sooner rather than later, ensuring your door remains in good condition. Here’s what you should look for when inspecting your doors:
- Cracks in the frame or glass. Steel and wrought iron doors aren’t likely to have cracks in the actual door, but surrounding components might. If you see cracks in the glass, order and install a replacement panel.
- Faded, cracked, chipped or peeling finish. Simply refinish to refresh the look of your door.
- Moisture and fog between glass panels. The presence of fog or moisture indicates that the seal between the glass is no longer intact.
- Splits or signs of moisture damage in the frame. Replace the frame if you find these issues and look for the source of the moisture damage.
- Damage to the weather strip, which may include cracks, gaps or discoloration. Replace the weather strip if you notice this issue, or if it doesn’t bounce back the way it used to.
- Missing pieces, tears and gaps in the sweep. If it’s in bad shape, replace it.
- Damaged foam wedge. Install a replacement.
“Steel and wrought iron exterior doors are built to last.”
Exterior doors made of steel or wrought iron are built for extreme durability, so you may not have to deal with many of these issues. However, sweeps and weather strips could still sustain damage, so don’t gloss over your bi-annual inspections just because your door is durable.
Exterior doors are both functional and stylish, so ensuring yours looks its best is sure to boost your home’s curb appeal. Stick to a regular schedule for cleaning and inspection, and your doors will maintain their like-new appearance.
What are your biggest challenges when doing routine cleaning tasks?
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