Care & Handling


  • It is your responsibility (Customer’s) to inspect your door immediately when you pick it up at Caldwells and you need to report any damages or defects before you leave Caldwells.
  • Do not drag doors across one another as it will cause scratches and chips.
  • All doors should be handled with clean dry gloves and equipment to prevent dirt and oil from penetrating them.
  • Store flat on a level surface in a dry, well ventilated building (see below)
  • Doors should not be subjected to extreme or rapid changes in heat or humidity. Avoid sudden changes such as forced heat to dry out a building.
  • If the doors are to be stored on the job site, all surfaces including ends and edges must be sealed with a high quality sealer in order to prevent undue moisture absorption.
  • Store doors flat on a level surface n a dry, well ventilated building. Doors must not come in contact with water. Doors should be kept at least 4 inches off the floor and must have protective coverings under the bottom door and over the top. Covering just protect doors from dirt, water and abuse but allow for air circulation under and around the stack. Do no store doors longer than 15 days. (see below)
  • Doors must 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.
  • Do not subject interior doors to extremes of heat and/or humidity. Do not allow doors to come in contact with water. Prolonged exposure may cause damage. 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. Extremes in Relative Humidity outside of the prescribed range can cause significant damage to the doors including cracking of panels and checking of veneers.
  • 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 must be lifted and carried when being moved, not dragged across one another or any other surface. When moving doors, lift and carry each door with at least two persons using clean gloves. Do not drag doors or slide them across one another as this can result in drag marks and chipping damage along door edges.
  • Doors should not be stacked or stood directly on cement floors. (see below)
  • Doors should not be stacked or stood directly on cement floors. (see below)
  • 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.
  • Doors must be stored in a dry, well-ventilated area in an enclosed building with an operational and balanced HVAC system. Do not deliver doors to the job site until concrete floor, foundations and plaster or dry wall work is completed and fully dry. Never store doors outside exposed to the elements.
  • If doors are to be stored for a long period of time longer than 48 hours doors must be sealed all six sides and hardware cutouts with a sealer primer to prevent undue moisture penetration or drying of the product.
  • Doors should be stored flat on a level surface in a dry, ventilated area. Place doors on a piece of plywood or cardboard to protect face of bottom door. Two 2x4s should be placed at 12″ from top and bottom of door and one 2x4 should be evenly spaced in the middle. It is very important to use a center support so that the doors do not sag in the middle. Cover doors to keep clean, but allow air circulation.
  • Horizontal Storage
  • DO NOT lean doors against the wall it will cause warping even at the slightest angel.
  • DO NOT store doors in direct sunlight.



  • Wood doors should be considered as a piece of furniture and treated the same. Be careful handling and moving the door. Accordingly the door finish should the same as fine furniture and for best results have a professional do it. Do not have your handyman or carpenter with no experience with high quality finishing ever attempt it. You will most likely regret it!
  • All doors should be acclimated (stored in the area you plan to place it) for at least 24 hours in the environment it will be hung.
  • Adjust or align components if necessary before finishing. Wood panels "float" and may be knocked into alignment with a wood block and hammer. Be careful not to damage door or panel. If you need to cut the door down in size consult with Caldwell’s sales staff as there are limitations to cutting the width of the door. If you cut too much you will expose 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. Including all machined areas including the door knob bore, dead bolt bore, mortises for hinges, door shoe, flush bolt and any other 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. If you do not use a wood conditioner your finish may be uneven with light and dark spots as the stain will not apply evenly.
  • We cannot evaluate all possible paint, stain and finish applications. 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.


  • 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 thee sticking with sandpaper. Be careful not to round the corner of the sticking.
  • Adjust or align components if necessary before finishing. Wood panels "float" and may be knocked into alignment with a wood block and hammer. Be careful not to damage door or panel.
  • 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, and then remove to finish properly. Doors must be properly sealed prior to installation of hardware and exposure to moisture and or weather. Properly finish the door immediately before prolonged storage. All unfinished areas of the doors must be finished to insure a good seal. The smallest opening to moisture and or a dry environment will adversely affect your door, it may swell or shrink depending on the environment.
  • All surfaces of the door must be properly finished. All six sides of the door (front, back, top, bottom and two sides) should be coated with each and every coat of finish that is applied to the exterior surface of the door. Also doors must be finished under the area where the door is machined, door latch bore, dead bolt bore and hinges mortises. All unfinished surfaces on the doors must be sealed. All doors must be dry before finishing.
  • On doors that have glass should apply a 1/16” coat of clear silicone caulk to the edge of the glass where ever it meets the wood. Also 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 "putty" from drying out. It is the finisher's responsibility to protect glass prior to and during finishing. If using tape, conduct a test of the tape being used on a small area of the glass before applying to a large surface. After finishing, remove the tape as soon as possible.
  • On doors that have plastic film protection on glass, removal of plastic film protection immediately after applying the finish is required. Failure to remove the plastic film at this time may cause harm to the glass and will be difficult removing the film after the finish has dried. Do not use razor blades or sharp objects to remove the film or clean the glass. These items will scratch the glass.



  • 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, 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.


  • Doors should be acclimated to the room installed in for at least 24 hours.

  • Either oil-base or acrylic resin-base exterior grade paints may be used with success on panel doors. Oil-base paints offer more resistance to the passage of water (liquid and vapor) than acrylic resin-base paints, but the latter have better durability and color retention.
  • Door slabs must be primed and painted on all six sides (Top, Bottom, Front, Back and Both Edges) within 48 hours. Including all machined areas door knob bore, dead bolt bore, hinge mortises, door shoe, flush bolt and any other area where the door is bare. 100% coverage is required to protect your door.
  • 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.
  • Exterior sealers will deteriorate over time due to exposure and will require maintenance.
  • Inspect finish at least once per year and refinish as necessary.

Where possible exposure to direct sun or rain is a factor, to keep your wood doors beautiful 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, as some expansion and contraction of door parts most likely will occur.

We cannot evaluate all the available paints and stains, nor the customers' specific application requirements. Your paint dealer should know of suitable finish systems that give satisfactory results in your region. It is highly recommended that top quality finishes be selected, and the application instructions on the container be followed explicitly.


  • Use an oil-based primer followed by at least three top coats of a high quality oil or acrylic-based paint on the exterior. Acrylic is more durable and has better color retention.
  • Use a 1/16” silicone caulking bead (must be compatible with paint) around the perimeter of each glass pane. This will seal the putty and prevent any moisture from running directly into the door
  • Ensure all finish coats are allowed to 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. Coat all six sides of every door and over all machined areas.
  • Silicone the door bottom sweep onto the bottom of the door and apply a surface mount drip cap to the bottom of each door to allow for moisture runoff onto the sill.

Color Choice

  • The exterior face of a door exposed to the sun in harsh environments can reach temperatures well in excess of 120 degrees. As a rule of thumb, if you cannot hold your hand on the face of the door for more than 30 seconds, the door is too hot. These extreme temperatures can cause noticeable damage to the door including finish deterioration and accelerated color fading.
  • In addition, extreme temperature changes can cause warping, sticking and other performance problems. For doors with little protection or doors installed in hot environments, 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.
  • Exterior sealers will deteriorate over time due to exposure and will require annual maintenance. Inspect finish at least once per year and refinish as necessary.
  • Do not use dark colored finish on door surfaces that will be exposed to direct sunlight to minimize the chance of warping or veneer checking.


An overhang as shown is required for wood doors, Overhangs protect the door’s finish, minimize the need for re finishing and help keep the weather out of the home. An example formula for determining the correct overhang (in many climates) is: D (Depth) = 1/2H (Height). For example, if the measurement from the base of the door to the bottom of the overhang is 10 feet, then the overhang should extend at least 5 feet. This formula can change based on the climate and the direction the door faces. The following section will explain how to modify the formula based on these factors.




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.

  • Direct sunlight will cause the finish on any door unit to deteriorate much faster.
  • The entryway must provide adequate protection against the elements. See "REQUIRED OVERHANG”.
  • Inspect your door unit periodically. If the topcoat has been damaged or is showing signs of deterioration, an additional application of top coat will need to be applied.
  • Depending on the environment, the door will need to be refinished periodically.
  • 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.
  • If you live in a severe climate or your entry receives a lot of direct sunlight from a southern or western exposure, you'll want to examine your door's finish often. Depending on the conditions, you may also need to maintain the door finish more frequently. Without adequate overhangs, doors with a southern, southwestern, southeastern or western exposure will require more frequent maintenance. Doors without appropriate protection may also experience performance problems such as rapid finish deterioration, color fading, wood splitting, warping, swelling, shrinking, moulding shrinkage, wood joint separation, and water penetration between the moldings, panels, and glass.
  • Door Positioning and Sun Exposure
  • It is important to note that wood is a natural product and 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. To minimize these occurrences, protect your door with the right finish and an adequate overhang.
  • When cleaning door surfaces use a non-abrasive commercial cleaner designed for cleaning wood door or paneling surfaces, that does not leave a film residue that would build up or affect the surface gloss of the door finish.
  • Finishes on exterior doors may deteriorate due to exposure to the environment. In order to protect the door it is recommended that the condition of the exterior finish be inspected at least once a year and re-finished as needed. Both exterior and interior finishes will change color over time.
  • With proper overhangs, doors may face any direction (north, south, east or west). Doors installed in these types of applications still require finish maintenance. Wood doors for may need to be refinished every two years depending on the conditions.
    • 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.
    • Avoid using metal tools, razor blades, or other sharp objects and abrasive cleaners. They can damage door surfaces, scratch glass and remove coatings.
    • Do not allow aggressive cleaners to come into contact with 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.

Rinse surface with clean water from top to bottom.

  • Clean with mild soap solution and sponge or soft brush with uniform pressure horizontally, then vertically.
  • Promptly rinse thoroughly with clean water (sponging while rinsing may be helpful; do not allow cleaning solution to dry on the surface or collect and puddle).
  • Wipe dry with lint-free dry cloth.
  • If necessary, repeat steps above until clean.
  • Dry door with separate 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.

  • Clean dirt/debris with mild soap and water and rinse clean.
  • Tighten loose screws.
  • Replace damaged hardware.

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