How Do You Refinish a Faded Fiberglass Door

A fiberglass door is one of the most popular types of entry doors used in homes today. A fiberglass door is composed of a fiberglass outer skin and a wood or metal core (depending on the manufacturer) and is considered a solid core entry door. A classic fiberglass door has an opaque white finish that allows you to see through it and block light. The core of the door is either a hollow or solid wood frame.

Fiberglass doors are not as energy-efficient as actual wooden doors due to their ability to retain heat in winter and cool air in summer; however, they have other advantages, such as being stronger than wood. Also, some people prefer working with this material, knowing that it doesn’t require maintenance like traditional wood doors. Today I will be discussing the process of how do you refinish a faded fiberglass door. So let us get started.

How Do You Refinish a Faded Fiberglass Door

Step-wise Guide on How Do You Refinish a Faded Fiberglass Door

  • First of all, you have to remove the door from its place and keep it in a well-ventilated area.
  • Use sandpaper that is not too rough and lightly sand the surface of your fiberglass door for about 10 minutes or so. This will make sure that no dirt remains on the surface of the door, after which you can apply some primer coat on it. You must use high-quality paint thick enough to cover fiberglass adequately if you can apply two coats. Be careful about drying time between applications because it is pretty important as far as the final result is concerned.
  • After priming is done, leave it for at least 24 hours and then apply two coats of finishing paint. Make sure that you let it dry for at least 4 hours after applying the first coat and then give a second one followed by drying.
  • If you wish to add stripes or wavy lines to your new fiberglass door, make sure that they are adequately sealed with a clear coat to avoid any damage from taking place.
  • After all these steps are completed, it is good enough to install your painted door back where you kept it earlier. It will look as good as new once you do this, and it will look even better than the original!
  • The last step on how you refinish a faded fiberglass door would be to apply wax to its surface so that its shine remains intact for years to come!

Precautions While  Refinishing a Faded Fiberglass Door

A fiberglass door develops memory problems very soon after its initial painting. Therefore, using high-performance paint is not recommended for this material. You can also use synthetic enamel or epoxy to achieve a good finish on fiberglass and plastic doors. The fiberglass door is the most durable option for your garage doors. These are often used in exterior applications such as entry doors, storm doors, and patio doors.

use synthetic enamel

The prime coat needs to be applied as soon as possible after the wood has dried completely; you need to be extremely careful while using the basecoat because these surfaces tend to buckle very quickly, making it difficult to smooth out the character later on, even with primer/sealer underneath. In addition, moisture can enter into this kind of surface from several different sources:

  • The sides and bottom of the frame trap moisture, which gets condensed onto the foliage or moisture-ridden wood.  Because the wood is thick and porous, it soaks up moisture very quickly especially if the door is used regularly.
  • The top rail where the sashes slide in and out can collect a lot of moisture as well.  If you attempt to sand down this surface, remember that the wood will be very wet underneath, which means your sandpaper won’t adhere to the surface.  This means you’ll have to change sheets often, which is impractical for a large job like refinishing a fiberglass door.
  • Any nail holes or screw holes can also be guarded against using some waterproof putty (this material works better than silicone sealers since it doesn’t dry up as fast).
  • The bottom rail can also collect moisture if there is a gap between the doors.  Before painting, you need to close this gap so that no moisture gets trapped during the painting process.
  • If you’ve ever painted a fiberglass door before, you might have noticed that these surfaces tend to bubble up very quickly.  This is because the wood tends to absorb too much paint, which causes the surface tension of the top layer of paint to be disrupted, leading it to form bubbles; if your primer has not completely dried, then this phenomenon will occur sooner as well due to poor adhesion action between layers of paint.
  • Using thinner instead of mineral spirits or turpentine is a good idea. The thinner can evaporate faster and doesn’t tend to leave behind any surface residue after it dries up; you’ll get better performance with a catalyzed paint this is done properly.  
  • The room temperature needs to be such that there is no moisture in the air (no cold drafts); if you’re using a forced hot air heater, there should be an exhaust fan installed as well so that moisture can escape from the room completely.

Five Easy Ways to Refinish a Faded Fiberglass Door:

1. Sanding:

Sanding a fiberglass door top to bottom before refinishing is an easy method that won’t take too much time. The result will likely be good if you have patience and thoroughly sand the surface, especially if it’s been done by hand, but it may indicate more rust damage than other methods. After sanding, you can apply a coat of primer and then paint or stain the door as desired.

2. Heat Stripping:

It is a popular method to heat the door to a high temperature and then stripping it. You can use an oven, heat gun, or other forms of heating to accomplish this. The doors are heated until the paint bubbles up and then taken out of the oven immediately after that so that they don’t cool down too much before being stripped with a chemical stripper or sandpaper. The door is then stripped to bare wood and the finish can be applied immediately. The most common finishes are lacquer or varnish, but paint can also be used.

3. Paint Stripper:

Using a paint stripper

Using a paint stripper on fiberglass is a common way to remove peeling or chalky paint from these doors. You can use a solvent-based paint stripper on a hot day outside by putting the door flat down on a piece of plywood and applying the paint remover to it with either a brush or a roller. Wait for 5-10 minutes, and then scrape off the softened paint with a stiff-bristled brush.

4. Buffing with Heavy-Duty Compound:

Buffing the fiberglass door with a heavy-duty compound can work well if you have patience. You should start with a coarse grit and then work your way up to an ultra-fine finish for best results. This method is similar to sanding, but it’s easier on your arms because the tool moves the work along instead of lifting it and down repeatedly. Wet sanding is a good option if you want to avoid using harsh chemicals. This method requires more time and patience, but the results are beautiful. Wet sanding also works well on thicker doors.

5. Polyurethane Spray:

If you don’t want to do a lot of work on your fiberglass door, then polyurethane spray is an easy alternative. You can choose from regular or one-part spray paints that come in various colors and can be used indoors or outdoors. They aren’t as resistant to chipping as other finishes, so it’s best not to paint garage doors, but they offer an excellent finish for inside fiberglass doors.

Note: This is meant for information purposes only and may not be accurate or applicable in all areas/contexts. It does not replace professional legal advice, so please consult your local authority before making any decisions regarding refinishing a fiberglass door.

Can a Fiberglass Door Be Refinished?

Fiberglass doors can be refinished, and it is an excellent way to update the look of your home. Homeowners can do it as long as they have some basic tools and supplies.

The process includes sanding down the existing finish, priming, staining, or painting, and applying a clear coat sealer. With the right products and some patience, you can drastically change the appearance of your fiberglass door in just a few steps.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Fiberglass Doors?

Fiberglass doors require a special kind of paint that is designed to adhere well to the material. Many hardware stores carry various brands and types specifically formulated for use on fiberglass surfaces.

When selecting paint, read the label and look for words like ‘bond primer’ or ‘fiberglass bonding primer’ to ensure that the product can stick and dry properly without fading away or fading quickly.

Additionally, keep in mind the type of finish you would like your door to have, whether it be glossy, flat, satin, semi-glosses, or eggshell. After deciding on the right type of paint and finish, always test it on a small area first before committing to painting your entire door.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes Fiberglass Fade?

Fiberglass door fading occurs when water or moisture gets inside the fiberglass and evaporates out into the sunlight. The evaporation makes the fiberglass molecules weaken and deteriorate faster than they should naturally. In addition, this exposure to moisture causes them to break down sooner than they should under normal circumstances.

When Things Break Down, It’s Called Oxidation

Oxidation Can Break Down Fiberglass Door

Inside your house, there is usually not much oxygen, which means that there is little chance of oxidation occurring very often in most household goods like furniture or doors. But when you let the sun in, there is plenty of oxygen that can cause the fibers to break down and weaken or discolor. So without proper care, like sealing the fiberglass with a silicone spray or coating it with sealer, etc., it will not last long against moisture and sunlight.

Fiberglass door fading occurs when water or moisture gets inside the fiberglass and evaporates out into the sunlight. This exposure to humidity causes them to break down sooner than they should under normal circumstances.

Which Paint is Suitable for Refinishing Faded Fiberglass Door?

When deciding to refinish a faded fiberglass door, the first question that pops up in your mind is the paint best suited for this job. There are many types of paints available in the market, and you can choose from them.

The main factor in choosing the paint for refinished fiberglass doors is its ability to resist wear and tear and heat. We all know that these doors are exposed to adverse wear-causing factors like dirt, sunlight, etc., which cause the surface color to fade away, leading to chalking and peeling off of the surface layer of paint.

In addition, such doors generally get heated up during summer days. So when it comes to finding out what kind of paint will be most suitable for such surfaces, polyurethane enamel will be the best choice because of these reasons. In addition, polyurethane enamel is a paint that provides good protection to fiberglass and can also protect it from sunlight damage.

Finishing It Off With Catalyzed Polyurethane Enamel


In the end, it’s up to you whether you want to spend half a day sealing and priming your fiberglass door or just two hours finishing it off with high-quality catalyzed polyurethane enamel.  In this article, we’ve discussed some of the best steps for learning how do you refinish a faded fiberglass door, including how to prepare your work area so that the application of paint goes smoothly (this step is crucial if you’re using thinners instead of mineral spirits/turpentine) as well as avoiding common mistakes while painting fiberglass doors.

You may read also: How to Rescreen a Sliding Door

Angela Ervin

Angela Ervin

Angela is the executive editor of DIY quickly. She began her career as an interior designer before applying her strategic and creative passion to lifestyle and home. She has close to 15 years of experience in creative writing and online content strategy for housekeeping, home decorations as well as other niche efforts. She loves her job and has the privilege of working with an extraordinary team. She lives with her husband, two sons, and daughter in Petersburg. When she's not busy working she spent time with her family.

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