Staining and glazing are two ways to add life and character to a wooden door.

Staining & Glazing Wood Doors

by Tim Anderson

Wood can be colored and finished in a variety of ways, but most commonly a stain is used to color the wood while some type of protective sealer is applied on top of that to protect the wood. Glazing is similar to a thin layer of paint, except that it adds a weathered look to the wood, giving your door the look of antique wood even if it’s brand new.

Door Prep

Preparing the wood of the door is the first step. While many wood doors come prefinished, sanded and smooth and ready for application of paint and stain, you may need to sand yours down if it is an unfinished door. If you are working against an existing colored door with a finish coat, the finish as well as the top layer of stain must be sanded off to reveal the raw wood to start from scratch. Use a 150- to 220-grit sandpaper to sand down the wood for further finishing or removal of preexisting finishes, depending on how smooth you want the door.


After the wood has been sanded and cleaned with a vacuum cleaner, use masking tape and craft paper to protect the areas surrounding the door, such as the floor and door trim and hinges. Also cover the window if there is a window inset into the door. Apply the stain with a paintbrush, foam brush or a rag soaked in stain. Keep another rag on hand and use it to wipe up excess as you apply it to the face of the door. Work slowly and remember that you cannot go back from a dark stain to lighter colors, so start with a lighter stain than you actually want and apply two or three coats until you reach the color you desire.


Glaze is not a stain or a finish, but rather a way to add color in between layers of finish so that it doesn’t soak into the wood, but instead merely adds to the color. After the initial staining, coat the wood with a sealer of some type, known as the glaze undercoat, using the same application methods as with your stain. Varnish or polyurethane work just fine. From there, apply your chosen glaze with the same methods. After it has been applied in a single coat, use a rag to wipe the excess off the surface of the wood.

Finishing and Considerations

Accent the grains of the wood by applying the glazing against the grain of the wood, thus forcing the glaze coloring down into the grains. Go with the grain if you want to create a smooth, one-toned look. During the glazing process, apply more than one coat if you want to add more life to the door with color depths. After the glazing has dried, sand it down again, if you desire, with a high-grit sandpaper before applying the final layer of varnish or sealer on top of the glazing.

About the Author

Tim Anderson has been freelance writing since 2007. His has been published online through GTV Magazine, Home Anatomy, TravBuddy, MMO Hub, Killer Guides and the Delegate2 group. He spent more than 15 years as a third-generation tile and stone contractor before transitioning into freelance writing.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images