How To Make Your Exterior Wood Door Last Longer

A house looks welcoming and warm with a clean solid wood door, which can enhance the beauty of the house, while also adding to the solid construction. But, exterior wood doors need care, as there are several factors that can damage it.

What is the lifespan of a wooden door?

Wood doors can last more than 50 years if maintained properly and installed correctly. In this article, you will learn how to maintain your front wood door to last more than a century!

Damages Caused to Exterior Wood Doors

Certain factors are considered to account for exterior wood door damages. Most of these factors are inevitable and cause damages over time:

Extreme Temperatures

Extreme weather or temperatures are the most common factor that causes damage to exterior wood doors. If the temperature is too high or low, then it can damage the wood directly as changes in temperature cause the wood door to expand or contract.


Poorly finished wood doors are able to absorb moisture very quickly and this is another important factor causing damage to the wood doors. More moisture is absorbed if their finish is weakened. Absorbing moisture makes them heavy and it weakens the hinges too over time. If you live in areas that receive heavy rainfall or snow, beware of this effect.


Sunlight is an issue if the door does not have any shade. The ultra-violet rays coming from sunlight could deteriorate door finish over time. Sunlight can also peel off door’s paint. Dried wood doors cause creaking sounds generated by loosening of the door hardware.

Dust and Dirt

If you live in a windy or dusty city, particles can damage the door. These dirt particles can be carried by the wind and then forced onto the wood, leaving scratches on the door. These scratches can also become prominent with time, causing permanent damage to the doors.

How to Avoid these Damages to Wood Doors

It is true that exterior wooden doors are more prone to damage as they are exposed to extreme weather conditions and dirt, but there are some precautionary measures that can be taken to avoid these damages for quite a long time.

  • Clean your door once you see signs of water or dirt stains. You need to ensure that you clear up any seasonal debris or leaves that start to pile up. 
  • If you notice that your door has started to jam or stick, then try to figure out the reason as soon as possible and repair it. For instance, it could be because of a slipped hinge, or poor finish caused by moisture absorption.
  • Maintain proper sealing of your door because bottom and top edges are mostly overlooked when it comes to sealing and painting. If you haven’t done proper sealing, then it can result in more absorption of moisture, causing the door to swell.


Having an overhang for the exterior wood door saves it a lot from extreme weather conditions like sunlight, rain, storm or wind. If the overhang is properly sized, then it could save your door from most climatic conditions. The size of overhang is should be calculated to stop the direct sun from hitting on the door, but the following formula is used in order to decide on the estimated right overhang size for the front door:

X = 1/2Y

X: length of the overhand which is required

Y: distance from the door bottom to the base of the overhang

What About Ongoing Maintenance? Are there annual upkeep tasks that you would recommend?

Clean it Frequently

There is certain ongoing maintenance which you should consider in order to ensure that the front door lasts longer. The door should be cleaned at least twice a year using a damp cloth with some gentle soap diluted with warm water. Non-abrasive cleaning solution should be used to clean the door as it will not damage the material of the front door.

Inspect the Finish 

Inspect the door finish by looking at the door surface, because it will appear a bit dull and will lack polish. When you realize this, you need to clean the surface, sand the old top coat and renew the top coat.  

Check for Weather Stripping 

Weather stripping is another very important concern as it helps make your house look clean and nice. Every fall, you should look for the condition of your front door weather stripping, as it can damage with each passing year. 

Caulks Joints Check-up

Caulking is required to seal the front door’s perimeters which ensures that it is properly being insulated. Caulking can deteriorate over time. This can also result in further damage being made to the front door and could lead to the need for replacing the door. If you notice any single kind of crack or shrinkage within the caulking of the door, then remove the old and apply new caulk as soon as possible.

Hardware Lubrication

It is important to make sure that the front door is lubricated well at least once a year using the spray lubricant of any type. The lubrication needs to be applied on the lacks, hinges, cracks and handles. Doing this will ensure that the door operates smoothly.

What other issues are there to Watch Out For?

There are certain signs which you need to look for in order to find out whether your door needs replacement or not. Some of the most common signs and issues which you should watch for include:

  • The door seems to be cracked, warped and weathered.
  • There are visible dents all over the door with signs of rusting.
  • The panes of glass show visible signs of condensation.
  • It seems difficult to open or close the door.
  • Water or insect damage becomes apparent throughout the wood entry door.

How Often Should You Refinish Exterior Wood Door?

Frequency of refinishing your exterior door also depends largely on the area where you live, and how exposed your front door is to the elements. Doors installed in harsh weather without proper protection may need to be refinished more often.  The best way to know when to refinish the exterior door is when you see the discoloration or decay in your door finish. As a reference, it is typical for the wood front door to be refinished once every 4-5 years.

 There are several methods available to do this refinishing process. Please refer to this article for more information.

Why Do Exterior Wood Doors Crack?

With time wooden door panels may develop signs of visible cracks. It is most commonly caused when the panels within the doors are not free to expand or contract in response to the certain changes that take place in humidity or temperature. 

Panels may crack because of the dried paint or many layers of finish which build up for many years. They result in cementing the panels in place, which does not allow movement. When the change in temperature or humidity takes place, the wood then continues to shrink and expand itself, but the panels remain stuck in place, which forms cracks.

Is there a possibility of repairing hairline cracks? Yes, there is good news because hairline cracks like the small ones within the front door can be filled easily with the wood putty or the filler. These are easily available in small quantities at any online store, hardware stores or home centers. This solution is only for the small hairline cracks not the larger ones which are much more complicated and need other solutions. 

The use of wood filler or wood putty is also a temporary solution as it might only last for a few years.