care & handling
Under normal conditions, all wood products contain some moisture, and wood readily exchanges moisture with the environment. This is true of all wood products, whether they are raw or finished. Although a finish will slow this process, wood will regardless react to changes in humidity and environment.
Wood does not change size or shape unless its moisture content changes due to humidity conditions of the environment. When humidity conditions are high, wood absorbs moisture and swells (or expands). In low humidity conditions, wood releases moisture and shrinks (or contracts).
Wood products perform successfully when correctly used in a proper environment. Sun Mountain selects and uses only properly kiln-dried woods with a 5%-8% moisture content to ensure stability in climate controlled homes. Relative humidity inside the home should be maintained within a range of 40%-50%. Homes without proper temperature and climate control will likely experience problems with dimensional change of the wood. Care should especially be taken during site storage and installation. Other points to consider:
- Extreme moisture or dryness will cause panel expansion or contraction, joint separation, veneer checking or cracking, delaminations, bowing of the stile/rail, expansion or contraction of the stile/rail, and may include door failure. In exterior applications, if the door will be exposed to large amounts of direct sunlight or moisture, we recommend that a non-wood product be used instead.
- In seasonal climates doors may expand and bind against their jambs during the more humid seasons. Likewise, doors may pull away from their jambs during the dry seasons.
- If a door needs to be trimmed for fitting purposes, all exposed edges must be sealed and refinished immediately.
- Doors with a painted finish will reveal “seams” at the joints as natural wood movement occurs.
- If doors are ordered unfinished from the factory, doors should be completely finished on all six sides within 14 days of delivery. Finishing/sealing the door will minimize and slow the absorption of moisture but it will not eliminate it, so proper humidity levels are important throughout storage, installation, and use.
Factory Unfinished Doors (Machine-sanded)
If you order your doors unfinished from the factory, the center panels will be individually machine-sanded, and after assembly, the entire door will be machine-sanded to flush the joints and create a smooth, uniform surface. Additional hand-sanding is required at the jobsite before finishing to remove handling marks, oil residue from fingerprints, surface blemishes, and other minor imperfections. Sun Mountain is not responsible for the appearance of any door not finished at our factory. We believe that the overall quality of the finish is primarily and directly related to the quality of the prep-sanding process, and we recommend that onsite finishers follow the same process that we use below in our factory prefinished doors.
Factory Pre-Finished Doors
We believe that the final quality of the finish is directly related to and perhaps most importantly affected by the quality of the sanding prior to the first coating application. A bad finish can almost always be traced back to a combination of poor or non-existent hand sanding, poor finishing materials, and/or a poor work environment. After machine-sanding, our doors are hand-sanded to 180 or 220-grit using rotary orbital sanders, about 15-20 minutes per side. Sticking and panel profile details are then finger-sanded, with particular attention given to the exposed end grain on the tops and bottoms of the panels. Minor dings and dents are repaired with a very little bit of water, a hot iron, and light sanding. Our stain is applied by an HVLP spray gun in a climate-controlled spray booth with air make-up system, allowed to penetrate the wood and air-dry. A protective, catalyzed-conversion sealer is then sprayed on all six sides of the door and allowed to air-dry. After drying, the entire door is fine-sanded by hand (180 or 220-grit) again to develop an ultra-smooth surface for the topcoat. Glazes are then brushed-on and wiped-off, using the artist’s discretion for highlighting and shadow. Finally, a durable, cabinet-quality, catalyzed conversion varnish topcoat is sprayed, which when dry provides a beautiful finish that not only protects against scratches, nicks and dents, but is impervious to both moisture and virtually all household chemicals.
All finished wood requires regular maintenance to keep the finish looking as new as possible. For interior doors and trim, dust regularly and periodically wipe with a damp, not wet, cloth to remove dirt and other particles and smudges. Furniture and other wood polish is not recommended as it will cause build-up on the finish. For exterior doors, the speed at which the finish will deteriorate is in direct response to the exposure of the door to direct sunlight, rain, and snow. Most exterior finishes deteriorate rapidly. At a minimum, Sun Mountain recommends that all of its exterior doors be inspected and wiped down every six months, in spring and fall, with a damp, not wet, cloth to remove dirt and other particles. Depending on exposure and weather conditions, exterior doors may need to be refinished as often as every year. To refinish, use a high-quality exterior lacquer or varnish system and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for refinishing.