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I ran across a vintage screen door several years ago when I was buying some old doors from a lady in a neighboring town. The screen was ripped out and the door had definitely seen better days but I’m a sucker for old stuff so it came home with me. It then lived in the corner of my basement. While cleaning out the basement after we had that lovely flood, back in February, I ran across the screen door and an idea popped into my mind.
Do you remember that beautiful sliding pantry door I did for my friend back in 2015? Vintage screen door chalkboard? Heck yes!
The first thing I did was pull out the broken screen, then did some general clean up. Pulled out old nails and staples, wiped it down, stripped the crusty finish, then went to work sanding. And sanding. And sanding some more. This nasty old thing was so hammered that it took a ton of sanding to get it clean. I didn’t want to make it look new, I wanted to keep the character and story, just not the 60 years worth of encrusted yuck.
Here’s what it looked like once I got it sanded down.
As I said above, the goal was not to make this old door look new, so I left all the nail holes, major scratches, cracks, and imperfections. This old door has lived through many decades and I didn’t want to take that away.
I love the detail from the nails in this corner. Makes me wonder about the person who hammered them in.
Stain & Finish
Because I was intentionally trying to keep the character and age of the screen door, I chose to use a reactive stain to add color after sanding. I went with a product from Weatherwood Stains called Restoration. It’s a super cool product that I’m going to be using to refinishing the alder cabinets in my master bath sometime this winter. I chose Restoration because I love the look on alder and since I had a bit extra I used it on the screen door. This is douglas fir, so it doesn’t give exactly the color I’d like, but it’s still good. There’s still that old-timey, worn feel I was after.
Not gonna lie, this stuff ain’t cheap! (It’s $6 less on their website than it is on Amazon, just FYI.) But it’s seriously fun to play with. If this stain is not in your budget, you could get a somewhat similar look by layering a grey stain under a medium brown toned one or color mixing the two until you get the desired color you’re happy with. My two cents: I don’t love a plain grey stain, it’s cold so I usually go little heavier with the brown than the grey when I mix the two.
Here’s a screenshot of the Story I did while applying the stain. For behind the scenes tips and details, make sure to follow along over on Instagram.
Once the stain was dry and color achieved, I sealed the door with several coats of wipe-on poly. I like to use wipe-on poly when I’m looking for an old hand-rubbed feel. It doesn’t make a piece look all shiny and new like most top coats do. If you remember, I also used it on Grandpa’s church pew HERE. If you’re wanting the same vintage look use satin finish, NOT gloss.
The last step was to glue and brad nail in the chalkboard. I made the chalkboard out of a piece of leftover underlayment that I painted with chalkboard paint. It was the perfect depth to fit the opening. I used the roll-on chalkboard paint with a foam roller but you could totally use the spray kind, it’s just a little more expensive.
A vintage screen door that’s still vintage. It totally looks like all I did was replace the screen for a chalkboard. Effortless. Haha, nope! Not at all but, man, that’s sure the feeling I was after!
Even though it was completely overhauled, I love the crazy amount of character it still has!
Wouldn’t this make the cutest pantry door?
You guys, I am in love.
Sometimes it takes some work to make a vintage find safe and useable, but man is that work worth it when your vision becomes reality. This door will be available for purchase to local Utah peeps.
One of a kind. Full of stories and life.