What a transformation! When we built our house in the 1990's, these pressed wood hollow core doors were pretty standard and probably still are today. We wanted real oak doors to match all the trim in the house. Since we were already maxed out on our budget, plain white doors it was for us.
They served the purpose very well and looked nice. However, how much better would they have looked in oak stain to match the trim? It would have been much more cohesive without the breakup of white.
I had heard you could use gel stain on them. However, back in those days before the INTERNET (hard to remember those days), I wasn't sure how it was done. Well, now Pinterest appears on the scene. My life will never be the same. I'm as bad as my boys were with their Nintendo game system. A D D I C T E D! Anyway, back to my story...
First, I purchased a premixed WalMart brand beige paint for the undercoat. Nothing fancy required as you are going to cover it up. I let them dry 24 hours.
I found out that you can use this stain...you can purchase at a dealer near you or here. Rather expensive but I went with it because others had used it. Will a cheaper gel stain from Minwax work? Probably worth trying on a less important project. I wore hairdresser gloves from Sally's Beauty supply and a mask over my mouth and nose since I couldn't open the windows and the smell is awful.
I applied the stain using a cotton rag going with the grain. I learned that the first coat is better if it isn't too heavy. You can use a cheap chip brush to feather out where the grain changes directions. I started with the raised panels first. Then I proceeded on the two outside vertical strips and on to the horizontal areas next. The last section was the center vertical areas.
It's not as easy or fun as I thought it would be. You have to work fast to keep your wet line. Once it starts to get tacky, DO NOT TOUCH IT. I made that mistake and ended up repainting the door later on and starting over.
I let it dry at least 24 hours before applying the second coat. The second coat goes on much better. Apply the same as the first coat. Again, let it dry at least 24 hours. If you want them darker, just do a third coat the same way.
I decided to finish off with the General Finishes Clear Gel Topcoat. It's expensive but I will say it worked very well on doors. It's very thick and you can apply it with a cotton rag. I only did one coat as we no longer have little kids so our doors don't get much abuse. I miss my little guys...love them while they're little because they grow up overnight!
Here they are in all their glory! I think they are beautiful and match the trim perfectly. They aren't perfect by no means but they look really good.
After 21 years in this house, none of our door handles matched and half of them didn't work. I know it is a small detail but I just wanted doors to stay closed or be able to open and MATCH. Some were antique brass, some were shiny brass and one was satin chrome finish. Crazy!
I purchased the Schlage Georgian handles in an antique bronze finish. They were a little more expensive but I loved them. They look like farmhouse door handles! To cut cost, I order the privacy handles with the square back plate and the passage handles without a back plate.
I only did the nine doors on the first floor. When I start remodeling the second floor, I will tackle the six doors upstairs. Now that they are done, I would say they are worth it. However, if I had to do it all over again, maybe not. I invested a good 24 hours or more on these nine doors.
Side note: nail polish remover takes stain or top coat off your hands and nails if you get any on you.
Good luck if you decide to try!
Have a Blessed Day!