Restoring panneled interior doors

So this post is very much like the post I did previously about the front door. The major difference is that where as you might give your front door to someone else to restore, you can definitely try and restore your internal doors yourself. In fact you can practice on your internal doors and then have a go at fixing up your front door. So maybe I should have posted this article first. I’m going to edit the other post and add this in. You’ll never know it wasn’t there, other than this lengthy admission.

Anyway, the main difference between internal doors and external doors is the weight. Front doors are heavy. Internal doors are much more manageable. You can take them down with out breaking things or seriously hurting yourself. If they fall on you they won’t kill you. This is always useful when contemplating DIY. Having said all this, they are still quite heavy. So make sure that when you are ready to remove the door there is something in place to take the weight. Either the door frame or yourself.

If you aren’t ready and the last hinge decides to fall of the wall, the door will come crashing down on whatever is in the way. This could be a disaster. Especially if the door has glass panels in it. Its always best not to assume you can unscrew a door and take the weight,  if it decides to unexpectedly jump six inches of the hinges. That is what you’ll tell your partner later when they ask what happened!

The safest way to remove  door from its hinges is to tap the sliders out of the middle of the hinges. You do this while having the door closed over. Do the bottom hinge first and work up to the top hinge. The video below shows you how to go about it. Obviously if the hinge is no good and needs replacing, then when you’ve removed the door you can simply unscrew the old hinge and replace it.

Once your door is down you can asses the damage and get to restoring it. The first thing you will need to door is remove the door handle. Unscrew this carefully and set it to one side. Or get rid if it isn’t in good condition. At some point you will need to asses the door handles in all of the rooms and see how many matching sets you have. Most people will want most of the handles to match. having different door handles on every room just looks odd in most cases but it is very much personal preference. I would want to keep at many original handles as possible.

After you’ve removed the door furniture, it is time to remove any old paint. I have already covered this in a previous post here. Stripping paint is one of the hardest or most time consuming jobs but it is well worth it. Adding layers and layers of paint onto a door really ruins the look. Once your paint is stripped back then you will need to sand it. This will create a lovely smooth surface for your new paint or varnish. Again not the greatest job in the world but you will start to see your old door really come to life in this process. I have covered sanding in this post.

Sorry to keep referring you to other pages but stripping paint off wood is always the same, as is sanding wood. Anyway once you have sanded the wood down and have a nice smooth finish, its time for the most important decision. The colour. Most will opt to go for a light colour but in Victorian houses brighter or much darker shades also look great. Especially if it is a bigger property. The only problem is that you’ll need to match this colour on all the other doors on at least the same floor otherwise it will just look messy. This is great if you fancy the same colour scheme throughout.

The picture below perfectly illustrates this. They’ve painted all the doors dark grey and it looks wonderful. I suppose you could paint the other side of the door a different colour if you really wanted. Not sure how this would look. Its fine with exterior doors as they almost always closed but interior doors might look strange. I don’t think that I would do it. Just pick a really great colour that you want throughout the house and stick to it. The colour on the doors is urban obsession by Dulux.



The actual painting is easy. Its the fun part. Just be patient. If you need any tips on how to paint I’ve done a post on it here. Its pretty simple and can be done by anybody. Buy good brushes! It is such a false economy to purchase cheap brushes when you will have gone to a lot of effort to get the doors to this stage. When you’ve finished painting you can put the door furniture back and hang the door. If you are in any doubt about this get an expert. If you are using the original hinges then it will be easy. If you are using new hinges then you might find it a bit more tricky. Especially getting the door to hang perfectly straight.

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