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How to restore glass panel doors

Listed under abranet, Blog, Masking tape, Mirka, preparation Posted Feb 03 2012

Looking closely around the home, you will see that many 15-pane glass panel doors need restoring rather than just painting!

This looks OK from a distance through a groggy camera lense, but it is a horror show that some poor homeowner actually paid good money for.

When glass is poorly bedded in silicone, when the wooden glazing beads are scagged and furry, when nail heads are loud and proud, when paint is all over the glass, when glass is grazed and scratched… so it goes on.

Here is one way to efficiently rectify the faults in mass produced glazed doors that have been glossed by site painters in a hurry – or bodged up by DIY painters with a pathological dislike for one of the trickiest items to paint well.


Prepare a painted glazed door for re-painting

Scrape off excess paint from glass 5 minutes and up

With such a lot to do, I use a 4″ wallpaper scraper with an Olfa black utility blade. It seems easy to remove excess paint, but cleaning up is a different matter as static on glass is a royal pain. I find vacuuming off the specks is the best solution (probably creates its own static too, but if there is a better way I’m all ears) Then wipe with a Mirka microfibre cloth to make the glass nice and clean. Newspaper and a bit of spit is just as good, but so 70’s!

If you are doing both sides, in terms of manhours, I think one person either side of a door would do it far quicker than one person on their own.

Mask up the glass – 20 minutes a side.

There is a knack. Can you see the 1mm gap between tape and beading. That’s important.

One row at a time, all left sides first, swap hands, all right sides. Drop down the rows.
Working from bottom up use a 2″ scraper to push ends of tape down tight against beads.

Run off all the horizontal pieces, then stick ’em in place.

Trim every pane with 2″ scraper and trusty Olfa sharks fin Use the scraper blade to maintain that tiny gap between glass and bead.

Working from the bottom up, pull off excess tape and run scraper over tape as you go, to make sure it is nice and tightly stuck.

The masking over – assuming you are handpainting. For spraying, get the rest of that glass covered!

The Trimaco Kleenedge is low tack (2 on scale of 1 to 5) Used it on exterior glass too for several weeks! 2″ is easiest to handle. 1″ works though, but just need to be a bit more careful as you go through the next stages

Punch exposed nail heads back below the surface – 5 minutes and up.

Heart in mouth with every hit, as you don’t want to be cracking any glass.

Sand the beads really hard with 80 grade Abranet on a Festools mini sander block – 40 minutes.

With the masking tape in place, you can go at the sanding, safe that the glass will be scratch free! This combination is hands down the most thorough and efficient way I have found to sand back the worst imaginable snot-laden paintwork on beads.

One piece of abranet readjusted every now and then will complete at least 2 doors with ease.

Allow 40 minutes for one of the worst examples I have ever seen of a door that was clearly abused in the factory and received further unspeakable treatment onsite! Best to allow for the worst, especially as painting time will be very little.

Vacuum up dust. 2 minutes

It is possible to adapt the Festools to accept a vacuum hose, but it wouldn’t help with this task as you tend to use the extended end for sanding along the grooves on the horizontal beads. So quickly vacuum up any dust (there will be plenty on the beads and at the foot of the door.)

Sand stiles and rails with 80 grade abranet on a Mirka CEROS sander attached to a vacuum. 3-5 minutes

Enough said about Mirka’s random orbital sander, every painter’s essential tool.

Total time to mask up, sand and restore a glass panel door somewhat to its original factory primed state – before the sloppy finishing trades got a hold of it:

From 10 to 45 minutes max for sanding as thoroughly as is possible.
25 minutes for masking and vacuuming

The next stage involves filling and caulking. I think that caulking is the part of the operation that makes the biggest impact on the overall look of the finished paintwork.

Stage 2

See what to do in the next part.

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One comment to “How to restore glass panel doors”

  1. Charles Budd

    Hi, where can I find the rest of this blog? Thanks.

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