The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Your Exterior Doors

Posted on Sept 7, 2023.

When it comes to the aesthetics and security of your home, your exterior doors play a significant role. Whether you have a beautiful wood front door, a sturdy metal door, or a low-maintenance fiberglass door, proper care and maintenance are essential.

In this guide, we'll delve into the art of caring for your exterior doors, covering everything from wood front door maintenance to repainting a metal door. Let's embark on this journey to ensure your doors not only look their best but also stand the test of time.

Understanding Your Exterior Door Material

Before diving into maintenance tips, it's crucial to know what type of exterior door you have. There are three common materials: wood, metal, and fiberglass. Each requires specific care to maintain its integrity and appearance.

Wood Front Doors

Wooden front doors are timeless and exude a warm, welcoming charm. To protect and enhance their beauty, follow these steps:

  • Regular Cleaning: Wipe down your wood front door with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the finish.
  • Inspect for Damage: Periodically check for cracks, rot, or peeling paint. Address these issues promptly to prevent further deterioration.
  • Reapply Finish: Every few years, sand the door lightly and apply a fresh coat of varnish or paint to maintain its luster and shield it from the elements.

Metal Doors

Metal doors offer exceptional durability and security. To keep them in top shape, consider the following maintenance tips:

  • Routine Cleaning: Use a mild detergent and water to wash your metal door's surface. Be gentle to avoid scratching.
  • Repainting: Over time, metal doors may show signs of wear, such as chipping or rust. Repaint the door using a high-quality exterior paint for protection and aesthetics.
  • Lubricate Hinges: Apply lubricant to door hinges to prevent squeaking and ensure smooth operation.

Fiberglass Doors

Fiberglass doors are known for their low-maintenance properties and resistance to harsh weather conditions. Here's how to care for them:

  • Regular Cleaning: Simply wipe down your fiberglass door with a soft cloth or sponge and mild soap to remove dirt and grime.
  • Inspect for Damage: Check for cracks or dents, and if necessary, use an automotive wax to repair minor scratches.
  • Avoid Harsh Cleaners: Stay away from abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the door's finish.

Front Door Maintenance Tips

Now that you're familiar with your door's material, let's explore some universal maintenance tips to keep your front door looking and functioning at its best.

Clean the Hardware

Don't forget about the hardware! Clean and polish doorknobs, handles, and locks regularly to prevent tarnishing and ensure smooth operation.

Weather Stripping Inspection

Inspect and replace weather stripping as needed to maintain a tight seal, keeping drafts and moisture at bay.

Lubricate Hinges and Locks

Apply lubricant to door hinges and locks to prevent squeaking and ensure they operate smoothly.

Exterior Wood Door Protection

Wood front doors require extra care to preserve their beauty and longevity. Let's delve deeper into protecting your wooden door.

Shield from the Elements

Consider installing a storm door to shield your wood front door from rain, wind, and harsh sunlight. This extra layer of protection can extend the door's lifespan.

Monitor Moisture Levels

Wood is susceptible to moisture, which can lead to swelling and warping. Ensure proper ventilation in your entryway to control humidity levels.

Pest Prevention

Inspect your wood front door for any signs of insect damage. Seal any gaps or crevices that may provide access for pests.

Front Door Finishes

The finish on your exterior door not only enhances its appearance but also provides essential protection. Let's explore different finish options:

1. Paint

Paint is a popular choice for wood and metal doors. It offers a wide range of colors and can be reapplied as needed to freshen up the look.

2. Varnish

Varnish adds a glossy finish to wood doors, highlighting the natural grain. It's durable and provides excellent protection against moisture.

3. Stains

Stains enhance the natural beauty of wood by adding color while allowing the grain to show through. They also provide protection from UV rays.

How to Repaint a Metal Door

Repainting a metal door can breathe new life into its appearance. Follow these steps for a successful makeover:

  • Prepare the Surface: Remove old paint and rust using sandpaper or a wire brush. Clean the surface thoroughly to remove dust and debris.
  • Prime the Door: Apply a metal primer to ensure proper adhesion of the new paint.
  • Choose Quality Paint: Select a high-quality exterior paint suitable for metal surfaces. Apply it evenly, using a paintbrush or roller.
  • Allow for Drying: Let the paint dry completely between coats, and apply as many coats as necessary for even coverage.
  • Reattach Hardware: Once the paint is dry, reattach all hardware and admire your refreshed metal door.

How to Clean a Fiberglass Door

Cleaning a fiberglass door is a breeze, and regular maintenance can keep it looking like new:

  • Gentle Cleaning: Use a soft cloth or sponge and mild soap to clean the surface. Avoid abrasive cleaners or rough scrubbing.
  • Rinse Thoroughly: After cleaning, rinse the door thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.
  • Dry and Polish: Dry the door with a clean, dry cloth and polish it with an automotive wax to maintain its shine.

Seasonal Maintenance

To ensure your exterior doors are ready for every season, follow these seasonal maintenance guidelines:


  • Inspect and replace weather stripping if necessary.
  • Clean and lubricate hinges and locks.
  • Check for any damage from winter weather and address it promptly.


  • Monitor humidity levels to prevent wood doors from swelling.
  • Apply a fresh coat of varnish or paint to wooden doors, if needed.
  • Clean and polish hardware to prevent corrosion.


  • Prepare for colder weather by ensuring a tight seal.
  • Lubricate hinges and locks to prevent freezing.
  • Inspect for any signs of pest activity.


  • Keep your doors clear of snow and ice.
  • Apply a protective coating to wooden doors to prevent moisture damage.
  • Check for drafts and reseal if necessary.

Signs of Trouble

Knowing when your exterior door needs attention is crucial to prevent costly repairs. Look out for these signs of trouble:

  • Cracks or Warping: Especially common in wooden doors, these can indicate moisture or pest damage.
  • Rust or Corrosion: Metal doors may develop rust, which should be addressed promptly to prevent structural damage.
  • Squeaky Hinges: Lubricate hinges to prevent squeaking, which can lead to more significant issues.
  • Drafts and Leaks: If you feel drafts or notice moisture inside, it's time to check the weather stripping.


Caring for your exterior doors is not only about maintaining your home's curb appeal but also ensuring security and functionality. Whether you have a wood front door, a metal door, or a fiberglass door, the key is regular maintenance and attention to detail. By following the tips outlined in this ultimate guide, you can enjoy the beauty and functionality of your doors for years to come.

If you require professional assistance with door refinishing and maintenance, Southern Door Refinishing is here to help. Visit our website to explore our services:

For inquiries, please feel free to get in touch with us at 239-784-3306 or via email at [email protected]. We're here to ensure your exterior doors receive the care and attention they deserve.

Tell us about your Project

Send a Message

An email will be sent to the owner