Doors make a good first impression

Tips on how to sand, re-stain your home's front portal

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Q: I have an oak front door that has been stained a reddish color. It is covered with shellac that has been peeling. I removed most of the shellac with a razor and discovered scratches on the door. Most of these scratches are not deep and would probably disappear with sanding. What grade sandpaper should I use, and will it alter the stain color? Also, what should I use to protect the door after sanding? A: The front door is the gateway to your home. A well-maintained one leaves a first and lasting impression of either "wow" or "yuck." To do the job right, strip the entire door. But please put away your razor blade. Use a chemical stripper instead to remove the remainder of the finish. We don't think the finish is shellac. Shellac is an alcohol-based resin used to finish interior woodwork and furniture. More likely, your front door is finished with either varnish or polyurethane. Shellac is much softer than either varnish or polyurethane and does not tolerate water very well. Poly...