How to Protect Natural Wood Exterior Doors from Sunlight

I have a solid wood oak door that faces due west. The sun is brutal on the finish, and I have to redo it every six months. I’ve tried sanding sealer, polyurethane, you name it. Is there anything that will help? -Van

Hi Van,

The UV rays and heat from direct sunlight – not to mention rain, snow, and extreme changes in temperature – are very hard on exterior wood doors, especially those with clear finishes.

Your best bet is to sand the door down, and finish it with multiple coats of an exterior spar varnish that’s made for boats. Spar varnish contains ingredients that block UV rays and is more flexible than standard polyurethane, so it adheres better without cracking or peeling. Exterior polyurethane with UV blockers is also available, but it doesn’t hold up as well outside as spar varnish.

Even the best clear finish won’t provide as much protection for your door as high quality exterior paint, since the pigments in paint prevent sunlight from penetrating through to the wood.

Your best solution would be to try and keep the sunlight from reaching the door by adding a porch, awning, canopy, or strategically planted trees to provide shade.

Good luck with your project,


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4 Comments on “How to Protect Natural Wood Exterior Doors from Sunlight”

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    January 2nd, 2018 at 5:50 am

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  • sally glenn Says:
    November 16th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I have 2 beautiful exterior entry doors facing west. The sun really bleaches and is drying the doors. What is the best way to temporarily save and restore these beautiful doors? At the moment, I cannot hire a contractor…. can you give me a quick fix that I (67 year old female) can do for a temporary fix? I live in Southern California. Thank you.

  • Kip Running Says:
    March 4th, 2015 at 1:05 pm


    I have a new Oregon white oak door that faces South and is protected from the weather. I previously had a door (on another house) that I applied marine varnish on and after time it peeled off. I was told Tung oil works better and you just re-apply it each year. Sounds good to me as it’s a very simple solution. Does tung oil protect it from UV rays which I heard is the problem? If not should I also apply another product. The tung oil really brings the grain out which is what I like. Thanks, Kip

  • Ray Kohen Says:
    September 7th, 2013 at 6:26 am

    I have a rear entry door that has two problems: the bottom of the door seems to be rotting from exposure to the elements and the metal plate at the bottom of the door frame had to be pounded down with a hammer so the door would close. The two problems are clearly related. Do I need to replace the whole door frame and door? Will a kick plate solve the rotting door frame from getting worse? This door gets the afternoon sun, but I live in a townhouse community that doesn’t allow sunshades over doors.

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How to Protect Natural Wood Exterior Doors from Sunlight