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A Good Wood Door Will Not Stay "Good" Unless It Is Finished Professionally

Nothing is more important to the longevity of any wood product than its finish.  These are true words - a good wood door will not stay "good" unless it is finished properly.

This is just one portion of a front door on a house I inspected for a one-year warranty.

This is an expensive house and that is a good wood door. 

AND THAT IS A JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL FINISH JOB.  My eighth grade shop teacher would give me a D for that work.

  • The job was done with a small brush. 
  • Brush strokes are seen everywhere.
  • The single coat is VERY thin.
  • The finish product does not seem like an exterior-grade product.
  • The finish has dried bubbles all over which indicate that a SANDING SEALER was not used first.  A professional knows to use it first.
  • Wood has six sides!  All six must be equally treated or the wood will be compromised.
  • This finish product is already peeling, splitting, thinning out and ugly.

This is how the top of the door looks!

If it is this poorly finished, what does the bottom look like?  I would not trust it.

The front doors at Monticello and Mount Vernon have been there for centuries.  Why?

How long will this door last before it has problems?

What will happen to this door in time?

It will swell and split, especially at joints.  The finish will continue to deteriorate.  It will warp.  It will no longer seal the opening.

IT WILL BE A MESS!  In a short time these folks will want to have their guests enter through the garage door!

This door has been there less than 11 months.  It is protected from the sun by a front porch surround and roof! 

THE FINISH ON THIS DOOR WAS NOT DONE FOR THESE PEOPLE.  IT WAS DONE TO THESE PEOPLE!

It needs to be completely stripped and completely refinished. The finish product should be a good, exterior-grade, long-lasting finish.  Spraying is best.  I prefer a good sanding sealer and marine spar varnish, but that is just me.

 The door might need to be replaced.  I may already be compromised.

This builder and/or subcontractor should be ashamed.

And here is the kicker.  My client thought it was normal and that a new finish needed to be reapplied every couple of years!

My recommendation:  get a one-year inspection on your house!  Buyers often assume that because something is new it was done properly, professionally and what they get is normal.  Sometimes those things are not true!  And hire someone who knows that he's looking at.  That will make all the difference!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 17 commentsJay Markanich • July 27 2011 07:17AM

Comments

Good points! I'm amused when exterior doors are painted IN PLACE and VERTICLE * frequently have doors repainted on rental properties * It REALLY freshens up the exterior appearance!

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

REpainting is a different thing Wallace!  That would usually be only the outside.  With scotchtape put over the weatherstrip so nothing sticks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Good morning Jay. Far too often I see doors finished with a lick and promise. Or should I say more of a promise than a lick of effort...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Well, Michael, this was BARELY a lick and a promise!  This job was pathetic.  Just my opinion, you understand, but I was very dismayed.  It is the new normal however, at least for around here!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

I see this all the time. Home owners want to make the door look good so they just stain it but don't seal it.

Then here comes the fading and cracking nd they wonder why.

Best,

Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 7 years ago

This may have been factor stained Clint, I don't know.  But it was builder finished for sure!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I still remember my seventh grade shope teacher. He was a stickler for details.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) over 7 years ago

Mine was great Harry!  I still remember him, and remember so many things he taught me.  Both wood and metal shop.  He was my printing teacher also.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

This is so true - the same principles apply for refinishing the floors.  I see so many amateur jobs - they look bad and need to be redone quickly. 

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 7 years ago

Jay, great advice. When we built a few years back right before the builders warranty was up we hired an inspector and bang.

 Made the list of things that were now apparently wrong that were not seen or time had started to rear it's ugly head.

If they were not fixed they were replaced. Saved us time , money and aggravation.

If it's not right the first time make it right !!!

Enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) over 7 years ago

Very good information, as usual, Jay, and information that many homeowners do not know.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

Jay, you are forgetting one key issue---it takes "time" to finish the door properly.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Thanks Debbie.  Wood is wood.  It needs proper treatment, and especially when water is nearby!

Don - it has to be made right or the result is typically much more expensive!  One year inspections are very important.

Chris - I think you're right - most people don't know about this sort of thing.  That's why the supervisor on site is so important on new construction.  This supervisor let this go a year ago.  Bad news...

Charlie - silly me!  Actually the finish on this door, front and back (and top) probably took 45 minutes.  With a little brush!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay - Solid wood door require both a great initial finish and regular maintenance, depending upon the amount of exposure.  As you suggested, I always used marine spar varnish on wood doors, but even that weathers quickly in Georgia's summer extremes.  And most "painters" are only aware of 4 sides (those you can actually see without removing the door. 

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 7 years ago

It depends on exposure to sunlight John, as to how long a finish will last.  But marine spar is easy to touch up.  The four-side thinking is why so much wood trim rots so quickly around windows and doors too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay: Terrific explanation on what's wrong and how to fix it. A one year inspection is a great idea. Will suggest to my new home clients.

Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) over 7 years ago

I think they are essential Anne.  One thing I do is look at the insulation with my thermal camera to see if any has slipped over the year.  Often it has!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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