Painting Versus Varnishing Wood Doors

/ / Doors, Doors of Elegance, Wood Doors, Worn Doors

Are you trying to decide between painting and varnishing to finish your home doors? Read this guide to picking one or the other.

When installing a door in your home, you have to make the decision of whether or not you will coat this door in paint or by using varnish. There are advantages and disadvantages to each strategy, so it can be quite difficult to make a decision. Let’s take a closer look at each choice.

The Similarities Between Paint & Varnish

The primary similarity between paint and varnish is that they are each used to meet the same basic objective. You apply paint or varnish to your wood doors because you want to provide a coat of protection to the door, while also improving its aesthetic appeal. Therefore, it is important to look into which materials will be able to meet these goals more effectively and efficiently.

varnished wood doors

Foundational Differences in Application

Paint and varnish interact much differently with the wood surface of your door. Varnish finishes actually work with the wood. The finish is absorbed by the surface of the door, and the natural grain of the wood is able to show through the varnish.

Paint creates an impenetrable coat that completely covers the door, without letting any of the wood show through. The coat of paint is not absorbed into the wood, but instead creates somewhat of a solid shell over the surface of the door. These fundamental differences between the two products have a major impact on the way that they perform.

A Closer Look at Varnish

As mentioned, when you apply varnish to your door, you maintain the look of natural wood for your door. This is a primary reason why people choose varnish. They want the finish to bring out the natural beauty of the wood instead of covering it up with paint. There are many different types of varnish designed with UV protection and other means of providing protection for the door against the elements.

There are, however, several disadvantages that come with choosing varnish for your wood door. First of all, it can be difficult to apply varnish correctly to a wood door. The wood must be carefully sanded in order to provide a smooth surface that is still capable of absorbing the finish. Multiple coats are often necessary, and it can be difficult to achieve the perfect smooth and glossy finish. Professional help may be needed.

Choosing Paint Over Varnish

Painting the door will completely cover the natural grain and patterns of the wood, but allows for greater design creativity. While there are limited tones and shades that can be chosen in regards to varnish, the number of colors that can be achieved using paint are practically endless. Many homeowners choose paint in order to better enable their door to match their overall design themes.

The application of paint is often easier than varnish, but may also require multiple coats. At least two coats of paint are often required, but several more may be necessary depending upon the type of wood door you are painting. Like varnish, many brands of paints are formulated to provide protection and resilience for the door.

The DIY Network recommends that you always use a primer before you paint. Using a primer can actually reduce the amount of work you have to do, while improving the results. The primer enables the paint to adhere more easily, while also bringing out the paint’s intended color.

Which to Choose?

The method that you choose for your door will largely depend on your goals and your capabilities. Choose the strategy that will best enable you to achieve the design aesthetic that you would like, while also providing adequate protection for your wood door.