• Damages or defects must be reported BEFORE leaving Caldwells. Please inspect doors immediately upon pickup.
  • All doors should be handled with clean, dry gloves and proper equipment to prevent dirt and oil from penetrating them.
  • Doors should not be subjected to extreme or rapid changes in heat or humidity, Buildings where humidity and temperature are controlled provide the best storage facilities.
  • Conditions for storage, installation and use must be maintained between 50- 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prolonged exposure to water may cause damage.
  • Door should not be subjected to direct sunlight. Certain species (e.g. cherry, mahogany, walnut and teak) in an unfinished state are more susceptible to discoloration if exposed to sunlight and some forms of artificial light.
  • Store doors on a level surface, at least 4 inches off the floor, in a dry, well ventilated building. (see below)
  • Place them on top of plywood or cardboard to protect the face of the door. It is crucial that the center is supported
  • If the doors are to be stored on the job site, all ends and edges must be sealed with a high-quality sealer to prevent undue moisture absorption.
  • When storing, make sure to use protective coverings. These protect doors from dirt, water and abuse while still allowing air circulation.
  • Do not store doors longer than 15 days.
  • Do not install doors in buildings that have wet plaster or cement. Do not store doors in buildings with excessive moisture content – HVAC systems must be operational and balanced.
  • Doors should not be stacked or stood directly on cement floors. (see below)
  • Doors must be lifted when being moved, do not drag, as this can result in drag marks and chipping damage along door edges.
  • Allow doors to acclimate to local conditions by placing door in the area it will be installed for at least 24 hours before finishing.
  • Treat the doors as you would a piece of fine furniture.
  • DO NOT lean doors against wall

Door Storage


Unfinished Wood Entry Doors

  • Adjust or align components if necessary before finishing. Wood panels “float” and may be carefully knocked into alignment with a wood block and hammer.
  • Cutting down the size of the door risks possible exposure of the unfinished core of the door
  • Door slabs must be primed, stained and painted on all six sides (Top, Bottom, Front, Back and Both Edges) within 48 hours. In any area where the door is bare. 100% coverage is required to protect your door.
  • If painting: Use high quality oil base or acrylic latex paints. Higher gloss paints will offer better protection than low gloss paints.
  • If staining: Follow the stain manufacturer’s instructions. You must apply a pre-stain wood conditioner or sanding sealer for a more uniform finished appearance. Contact a local paint dealer for systems best suited for your geographic region.
  • We are not responsible for finishing imperfections. Wood is a natural product and is not always uniform in grain and color and will change over time.

Preparation for Finishing

  • Before applying the wood conditioner or sanding sealer coat, remove all handling marks, raised grain and other undesirable blemishes by sanding all surfaces with 180 grit sandpaper only (No Steel Wool) in the direction of the wood grain. Be careful not to over sand as you may sand through the door’s veneer. For doors with shaker sticking, lightly sand the outside edge of the sticking with sandpaper, refrain from rounding the corner of the sticking.
  • After sanding, clean door thoroughly with a cloth to remove all dust or foreign material. Do not use caustic or abrasive cleaners. Small amounts of grease, oil or pitch can be wiped clean with denatured alcohol or turpentine.
  • Hang the door before finishing to ensure fit, and then remove to finish properly. Doors must be properly sealed prior to installation and properly finish the door immediately before prolonged storage.
  • On doors that have glass, a 1/16” coat of clear silicone caulk should be applied to the edge of the glass where ever it meets the wood.
  • The finish used should be flowed from the wood slightly onto the glass over the silicone. This will provide assurance against water leakage and protect the glazing compound from drying out.
  • It is the finisher’s responsibility to protect glass prior to and during finishing. If using tape, test it out first in a small area. After finishing, remove the tape as soon as possible.
  • On doors that have plastic film protection on glass, remove the plastic film protection immediately after applying the finish.
  • Do not use razor blades or sharp objects to remove the film or clean the glass. These items will scratch the glass.

Exterior Finishing
Stain-and-Clear Finish

  • After sanding the recommended process for finishing doors is a 3-step process. Step 1: application of a wood conditioner, Step 2: application of a stain, Step 3: application of at least three top coats of a clear finish. When selecting the finishes for these three steps, select products that have been designed to work together.
  • A wood conditioner prepares the wood to accept Stain uniformly and helps to spread the finish evenly.
  • The three top coats may be a solvent-borne (oil-base, alkyd resin-base, polyurethane resin-base) or a water-borne (acrylic resin-base) clear finish.

The advantages and disadvantages of solvent-borne vs. water-borne clear finishes:

  • Solvent-Borne Advantages: Cures faster, is harder and more water resistant. May be applied under variable weather conditions. Disadvantages: Subject to ultraviolet degradation and not as flexible or durable as water-borne clear finish.
  • Water-Borne Advantages: Very flexible, greater ultraviolet resistance, and good exterior durability. Disadvantages: Cannot be applied below 50º F, long curing period required, and may not fully cure for several weeks. Water-sensitive until cure is complete.

Do not sand between coats of clear acrylic. All stain-and-clear finishes will perform measurably better if protected from the direct effects of sunlight and weathering, and refinishing will not be required as frequently.

Paint Finish

  • Either oil-base or acrylic resin-base exterior grade paints may be used with success on panel doors. Oil-based paints offer more resistance to the passage of water (liquid and vapor) than acrylic resin-based paints, but the latter have better durability and color retention. 
  • Painted doors should be sealed with a good quality oil-base primer followed by three top coats of either an oil-base or acrylic resin-base paint. Of course, both primer and top coat should be made by the same manufacturer and designed to be used as a combination. Acrylic is more durable and has better color retention.
  • Exterior sealers will deteriorate over time due to exposure and will require maintenance.
  • Inspect finish at least once per year and refinish as necessary.
  • To keep your wood doors beautiful, if possible exposure to direct sun or rain is a factor, they require periodic resealing or painting dependent on weather or moisture exposure. Do not use dark colored stains or paint on doors exposed to sunlight.

Exterior Exposure Finishing

  • Ensure all finish coats can flow into the glass area at least 1/16″.
  • Ensure all coatings that go on the surface of the door are also applied to the top and bottom.
  • Silicone the bottom of the door and apply a surface mount drip cap to the bottom of each door to allow for moisture to runoff onto the sill.

Color Choice

  • The exterior face of a door exposed to the sun in harsh environments can reach temperatures of 120 degrees. If you cannot hold your hand on the face of the door for more than 30 seconds, the door is too hot. Extreme temperature changes can cause warping, sticking and other performance problems. Light colors may help reflect the heat and slow down heat build-up. Depending on the exposure and environment, other precautions (such as overhangs) should be taken to protect the door from the effects of the sun.


An overhang is required for wood doors; they protect the door’s finish and minimizes the need for re-finishing and help keep the weather out of the home. An example formula for determining the correct overhang is: D (Depth) = 1/2H (Height). This formula can change based on the climate and the direction the door faces.



Maintenance for Finished Wood Entry Doors

A new door unit is a piece of furniture and must be maintained as such. Exposure to the elements (sun, rain, snow, sleet and air pollutants) will cause a door to swell and or shrink a finished door. The following requirements will help you understand the maintenance needed to protect your investment:

  • Your door’s finish will require some simple, periodic maintenance to keep it looking great and provide proper protection against the elements. Here are some signs to watch for: Hairline cracks in the top coat of finish. Changes in the color of the finish. Changes in the texture of the finish, such as flaking or scaling. Dullness or chalkiness in the finish.
  • It is important to note that wood is a natural product. Over time, small surface imperfections may appear, and the door may shrink or swell slightly as it “breathes” with climate changes. These characteristics are perfectly normal with the natural aging process of a wood door and they should not be considered defects.
  • When cleaning door surfaces, use a non-abrasive commercial cleaner designed for cleaning wood door or paneling surfaces. Avoid using metal tools, razor blades, or other sharp objects
  • Do not power-wash doors or use a garden hose; this can cause seal failure in glass and the door panels which would allow water to enter the structure.
  • Do not allow aggressive cleaners to encounter door surfaces. Immediately rinse and dry.
  • Do not allow cleaners to puddle or collect at glass edges near glazing materials.
  • Avoid cleaning in direct sunlight or in temperatures too hot or too cold.
  • Avoid excessive rubbing and over-cleaning.
  • Do not scour.
  • Clean and rinse one area at a time.
  • Clean twice a year (monthly in coastal areas) or when dirty.
  • Prepare cleaning solution – 1 tsp. baby shampoo to one gallon of water. Or clean with mild soap solution and sponge or soft brush with uniform pressure horizontally, then vertically.
  • Rinse surface with clean water from top to bottom.
  • Wipe dry with lint-free dry cloth.
  • Clean door surface and maintain hardware any time doors are not opening or closing properly or at least biannually or monthly for coastal areas.
  • Tighten loose screws.
  • Replace damaged hardware.

Exposure diagram

The following substances may damage protective finishes and do not use:

  • Vinegar-based cleaners (use on glass only)
  • Citrus-based cleaners (lemon, etc.)
  • Paint removers
  • Window cleaners
  • Brick/siding washes
  • Any other industrial or abrasive cleaners