Best Clear Finish for Exterior Wood Doors

Taking care of wood doors can be such a nightmare as they are vulnerable to many damaging elements such as UV rays, mold, and water. Lumber is also sensitive to marring and scratching and wears out very quickly. However, the Best Clear Finish for Exterior Wood Doors will work magic for you thanks to its impressive qualities capable of solving these problems.

 

Most of the exterior wood finishes are easy to use and maintain. They cure fast and clean up with water. Furthermore, they are self-leveling and give a smooth finish after curing, not forgetting the maximum durability. These formulas do not peel with temperature changes; instead, they contract and expand as the wood remains intact.

 

Before you buy a product, you need to research to familiarize yourself with the features in different formulas to get the most suitable one. In this review, you will find the very best Clear Finish for Exterior Wood Doors available in the market. I’ve also included a detailed buyer’s guide to assist you with your shopping.

 

Read on for more:

 

List of The Best Clear Finish for Exterior Wood Doors

 

TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish, Gloss and Satin Polyurethane Finish for Wood

 

The varnish provides exceptional properties that make it the first in this review. It is a famous classic marine formula containing premium tung oil, UV blockers, and phenolic resins to give a warm, lovely, and transparent finish. The product is also multi-purpose, and you can use it on all types of exterior and interior wood.

 

The product is waterproof, making it ideal for boats, kayaks, strip canoes, outdoor wooden furniture, and garage doors. It is easy to handle, and the self-leveling feature gives superb results. The varnish is flexible once it cures as it expands and contracts with the wood during temperature changes and seasonal humidity.

 

When using the formula, apply 4-6 coats of gleam gloss for a high gloss varnish finish. If you want to get a sleek satin finish, build with coats of gleam gloss varnish first and then use gleam satin for final coats.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The product contains UV blockers that preserve the surface from harmful UV rays.
  • It gives a warm, beautiful, and transparent finish, which enhances the beauty of the wood.
  • You can use the varnish for both interior and exterior wood applications.
  • Once it cures, the varnish is flexible such that it expands and contracts with the wood to accommodate temperature and humidity level changes.
  • For satin applications, build up layers of gleam gloss, and directly before the final satin coat, sand lightly.

Pros 

  • The product is available in gloss or satin.
  • It is safe and straightforward to use.
  • After application, it dries fast.
  • The formula enhances the durability of the surface.

Cons

  • You should not apply the satin on bare wood. The build-up coats should be in gloss so that the satin does the finish coat.

 

Minwax 630510444 Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane

 

It can be challenging to get a finish to withstand various weather conditions when used for outdoor applications. However, with this urethane, expect superb results, making it the best clear finish for exterior wood doors! Helmsman Spar Urethane is a specially formulated finish for both exterior and interior wood exposed to sunlight, moisture, and temperature changes. 

 

It has UV blockers that preserve the wood from fading or graying when exposed to sunlight. The finish also creates a protective barrier on the surface so that it is waterproof. On top of that, the formula has special oils that allow it to expand or contract with the wood when temperatures and seasons change.

 

The product is suitable for light-colored woods and stains and dries quickly after application. Its maintenance is easy and quick, as warm water is enough to clean it.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The urethane has special oils that allow it to expand or contract with the wood as temperatures and seasons change.
  • It is ideal for various outdoor furniture, bar tops, windows, bathroom cabinets, doors, trim, and kitchen countertops.
  • The clear finish is perfect for light-colored wood and stains.
  • It is affordable to maintain as it cleans up easily with warm water.

Pros

  • It is a water-based product.
  • The formula brings out the beauty of the wood.
  • It protects the wood from rain and moisture.
  • Once the urethane cures, it does not yellow or gray.

Cons

  • It does not hold up to wet wood.

Deft Interior Exterior Water-Based Polyurethane Clear Satin Finish

 

This polyurethane product protects interior and exterior wood surfaces, allowing you to work on various projects. It gives superior UV protection to the surface and preserves it from fading as a result of sunlight. The finish also makes the wood weather-resistance, thus enhancing its durability.

 

The formula meets relevant environmental regulations for VOCs and has low odor. It is non-toxic when it cures and, thus, safe for use when working indoors. The finish has the latest water-based oil-modified urethane technology, a 100% urethane water-based clear protective topcoat.

 

Handling the product is simple, as you can do it by brushing, padding, or spraying. It requires no priming and dries within 2 hours, after which you can recoat. Also, cleaning up is easy as water does a good job.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The finish is easy to handle and apply using a brush, pad, or HVLP spray application.
  • It meets environmental regulations as it has low VOCs and is non-toxic when dry.
  • You can work indoors, and for long as the formula has a low odor.
  • The product allows you to work on both interior and exterior wood projects.
  • It also provides superior UV protection keeping the wood safe from damaging UV rays.

Pros

  • The product is available in a satin finish.
  • It gives an excellent finish once it cures and is easy to clean up.
  • You can recoat within 2 hours of application as it dries quickly.
  • The finish enhances the durability of the surface.
  • It is self-priming.

Cons

  • Users complain that the formula does not hold up well on hardwood floors.

 

TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish, High Gloss and Matte Finish for Wood

 

The TotalBoat Finish is a fast-dry high-build finish that lets you finish varnishing faster. It has a linseed oil-modified polyurethane formula for smooth flow-out. Unlike other products, it enables you to recoat within an hour, and you can apply up to 5 coats in one day. Whether you prefer a gloss or a matte finish, the varnish ensures you get a beautiful finish. Besides that, it allows you to recoat without requiring sanding, which allows you to get the work that will enable faster.

 

After curing, the marine grade varnish gives a rich, clear amber tone that makes the wood grain visible. It also makes the wood surface UV resistant and waterproof, making it ideal for brightwork on boats and outdoor furniture as it won’t fade or yellow. To protect the glossy amber sheen, Lust Varnish has UV stabilizers.

 

Additionally, this oil-based formula will not crack or peel because it expands and contracts with the wood as temperatures change. It is, thus, ideal for all types of marine and household woods.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The formula imparts a rich, clear amber tone that enhances the wood grain, making it more lovely.
  • It is a high-build, fast-drying finish that allows for rapid recoating.
  • You don’t need to sand between different coats, and this enables you to work faster.
  • The oil-based finish does not crack or peel when the wood expands or contracts due to temperature changes.
  • It gives you an option of a high gloss or matte finish and gives you instructions on achieving your preferred look.
  • The varnish is an excellent choice for brightwork as it offers superior UV and weather resistance.

Pros

  • Lust Marine Varnish dries fast, challenging, and wet-looking.
  • It gives a smooth, durable, and shiny finish.
  • The product has a viscosity similar to traditional European varnishes.
  • It offers a durable and flexible coating.
  • You can apply up to 5 coats a day.
  • The UV stabilizers become stronger as you apply more coats on the surface to protect the glossy amber sheen.

Cons

  • The varnish does not give good results on paint.

 

RUST-OLEUM 250031- Outdoor Clear Gloss Finish

 

Harmful environmental elements are a threat to the durability and beauty of the wood surface. However, with the Rust-Oleum finish, your wood surface enjoys a longer useful life. The product features UV absorbers and offers superior protection from harmful elements. When applied to the wood, it cures into a durable, non-yellowing finish. The formula resists scratches, and the surface remains elegant and smooth.

 

Using the product is simple as it dries extra fast, and you can apply up to 3 coats in one day. It is safe to use as it has a low odor, and you can comfortably use it indoors. The finish also cleans up easily with water, offering low maintenance costs.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The finish is packed with UV absorbers, thus offering unbeatable protection against harmful elements.
  • It features a durable, non-yellowing finish that is scratch-resistant.
  • After application, Rust-Oleum cures into a crystal clear glossy finish.
  • The formula also gives the wood an elegant design and a smooth feel.

Pros

  • It offers extra fast drying time.
  • The product is easy to clean up.
  • You can comfortably put on three coats in one day.
  • It works well for outdoor wood applications.

Cons

  • Users complain that rolling and spraying the solution does not give a good finish.

Minwax 630500444 Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane

 

This Minwax Water Based Urethane sorts your wood finishing needs from staining and protection to preparation, maintenance, cleaning, and repair. It protects the wood from the sun’s graying and fading effects as it has UV blockers. The formula maintains the wood as it has special oils that enable it to expand and contract with the wood as the temperatures rise and fall.

 

The product works well on trim, bar tops, windows, and outdoor furniture, among other wood surfaces. It is perfect for light-colored woods and stains and gives the wood a clear protective finish. Besides that, the urethane also acts as a protective barrier against rain and moisture.

 

Applying the formula is easy and convenient as it has a low odor. It protects the surface from ambering and only requires warm water during cleaning. Also, the solution is non-toxic, thus safe for use.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The urethane product is useful in both outdoor and indoor applications.
  • It protects the wood from damage caused by rain as it forms a protective barrier.
  • The UV rays resistance feature keeps the surface from graying.
  • Special oils in the product allow it to expand and contract with the wood as temperature changes.
  • The formula is low in odor, thus convenient for interior wood projects.
  • It is perfect for light-colored wood and stains.

Pros

  • It is a water-based product, thus non-toxic.
  • The formula does not yellow once it cures.
  • It makes and keeps the wood beautiful.
  • You can easily clean up with water.

Cons

  • The urethane is not suitable for floors or porous surfaces.

System Three 1855S16 Clear Marine Spar Urethane Varnish Coating

 

If you want to get a product that meets your needs for marine and exterior wood surfaces, System Three Clear Marine Spar Urethane is the one. It offers excellent protection from salt, air, and water so that the wood surface lasts longer. The formula also features ultraviolet light absorbers that preserve the lumber from harmful UV rays even when there is constant sunlight exposure.

 

The varnish is available in gloss or satin finish and cures well over system three epoxy products. You can also use it on doors, railings, and any other surfaces where you want a clear finish. System Three Urethane is environmentally friendly as it is a high solids formula and VOC compliant.

 

Additionally, the surface remains beautiful once the formula cures as it is resistant to marring and scratching.

The Summary of Top Features

  • System Three is available in both gloss and satin finish, making it suitable for different wood projects.
  • The formula cures properly over three epoxy products to give you desirable results.
  • Once it dries, the product provides a non-toxic, VOC compliant finish.
  • The urethane keeps the wood useful for longer by protecting it from salt, air, and water.
  • It contains ultraviolet light absorbers that keep the wood in good shape even after constant exposure to sunlight.
  • You can use the product for outdoor projects without worrying about damage caused by elements.
  • The varnish is also resistant to scarring and marring, which preserves its excellent finish.

Pros

  • The product keeps the wood beautiful.
  • It enhances the durability of the surface.
  • You can easily clean it with water.
  • The formula is safe and simple to handle.
  • It is environmentally friendly.

Cons

  • The solution darkens as time goes by.

 

Epifanes Wood Finish Matte

 

If you want to get a hard matte finish without sanding, the Epifanes Wood Finish Matte will do the trick. The product components are phenolic-modified alkyd resin and tung oil. It also has microscopic porosity properties that allow you to avoid sanding if you recoat within 72 hours.

 

The formula provides outstanding UV protection for teak and other fine hardwoods. Therefore, the wood surface remains beautiful without fading or graying as a result of sunlight.

The Summary of Top Features

  • The porosity properties allow you to recoat without sanding.
  • Epiphanes is suitable for multiple wood projects as you can use it with teak and other fine hardwoods.
  • The wood stays beautiful as it enjoys outstanding protection from UV rays.
  • Water cannot damage the lumber, thanks to the waterproof qualities of the solution.

Pros

  • The formula is excellent on both bare and sanded wood.
  • When the product dries, to give a beautiful and durable finish.
  • It enhances wood durability.
  • The formula is easy to handle and maintain.

Cons

  • It requires more coats to give a desirable finish.

 

Watco 63041 Lacquer Clear Wood Finish

 

Watco will do an excellent job on your furniture, cabinets, doors, and paneling, allowing you to coat different wood surfaces. It dries to the touch of 1 hour and gives a crystal clear glossy finish. The finish also allows you to work faster as you don’t need to sand before coating.

 

The formula fills the wood pores and eliminates the need for a filler. After drying, it will preserve the surface from scratching and enhance its durability.

 

The Summary of Top Features

 

  • The product works well for a variety of projects ranging from paneling to coating furniture.
  • It does not require sanding between coats, thus making the work easier.
  • Watco fills in wood pores and eliminates the need for a wood filler.
  • The wood gets a longer life span as it becomes anti-scratch.
  • Watco gives a crystal-clear gloss with a durable finish.

 

Pros

 

  • It dries quickly.
  • You can work faster as handling the formula is simple.
  • The formula enhances the durability of the lumber.
  • It is easy to handle.

Cons

  • It is not suitable for floors and outdoor applications.

 

PPG ProLuxe Door and Window Wood Finish

 

PPG Proluxe product is available in both gloss and satin so that you can choose the best formula for your project. It consists of high alkyd solids that protect the wood and keep it looking good. On top of that, the solution provides a durable barrier against weathering.

 

The product also has excellent microporosity and flexibility. It expands and contracts as temperature changes; thus, it does not peel as time goes by.

Summary of Top Features

  • It has UV blockers that preserve the wood from harmful sun rays.
  • PPG Proluxe product does not peel as it expands and contracts with the wood as temperature and seasons change.
  • You can use the formula for various projects such as windows, doors, and fiberglass doors.

Pros

  • The formula allows you to work on exterior projects.
  • It has excellent microporosity and flexibility.
  • The lumber remains beautiful despite the weather and temperature changes.
  • It is easy to handle and maintain.

Cons

  • Sanding is a requirement for you to get an excellent finish.

 

Best Clear Finish for Exterior Wood Doors Buyer’s Guide

 

Wood doors require a reliable product, and the best clear finish for exterior wood doors is what you need. The formula not only offers durability and exceptional beauty to the wood, but it also gives you a relaxing time as you are using it. It is odorless, which allows you to work for longer sessions without feeling uncomfortable or nauseated. Additionally, it is eco-friendly as it meets the required environmental safety standards.

 

However, I acknowledge that choosing the best finish for your wood door is not that easy. That is why I have given factors to consider if you decide to purchase the product and why you need it.

 

Reasons to Have The Best Clear Finish for Exterior Wood Doors

 

  • Durability. The finish does not peel as it expands and contracts as the temperatures change. You will enjoy the beautiful wood surface for a while without thinking of recoating.

 

  • Beautiful glossy finish. When applied, the product cures into a lovely finish that is very attractive. It saves you the trouble of painting the wood surface.

 

  • Fast-drying. The product is famous for drying fast within hours after application.

 

  • Protective barrier. Water is a leading cause of wood door damage. The clear finish formula forms a protective barrier that keeps the wood water-resistant.

 

  • Maintenance. You only need water to clean the product, which does not require you to incur extra costs.

 

  • Variety of applications. The solution is useful for both wood doors and other wood applications, such as tabletops and cabinets. It will give excellent results for any project as long as you follow instructions.

 

  • UV rays protection. UV rays threaten the long-lasting beauty of the wood. However, it is nothing to worry about because the formula has UV rays blockers.

 

  • Non-toxic. The product is non-toxic so that the user is safe using it.

 

Factors to Consider When Getting the Best Clear Finish for Exterior Wood Doors

 

  • Environmentally friendly.

We must acknowledge that harsh chemicals in finishes are harmful to the environment, thus the need to be careful as we choose the formulas we want to use. The best woodworking product should be eco-friendly and help conserve the environment.

 

Please check the product’s ingredients to get a suitable one, and if you can’t tell, ask an expert to assist you.

 

  • Application.

As a woodworker, you will need a clear finish product for different applications. For example, you may want a formula for indoor purposes, which dictates that you get a product that dries quickly and has a low odor. 

For outdoor purposes, a formula that will do a good job is flexible, not harmed by temperature changes, and has UV blockers.

 

Some products are useful for specific projects such as tabletops and cabinets and others on floors and hardwoods. Therefore, you need to use them on the recommended surfaces for ideal results.

 

  • Safe to use.

 

Your health comes first, even when it comes to the woodworking projects you are using. Therefore, you should get a product that does not get you nauseous or make your eyes itch.

 

A toxic product and has a strong odor is not safe for you, especially if you are using it for interior projects. 

 

  • Simple to handle.

 

Using an easy to understand formula makes work enjoyable. The product needs to have clear instructions on how and where you will get desirable results.

 

When shopping for the product, you also should factor in the duration you have to get the job done. If there is limited time, get a self-leveling formula that does not require sanding. Some formulas need you to fill the surface before applying them, and although the requirement is useful, it can slow down your working speed.

 

  • Budget

 

You will spend differently based on the product you need, and when you check the requirements of your project, you will have an idea of how much you need. For example, the more features and purposes the product has, the more expensive it will be.

 

Maintenance costs should also be included in your budget statement as some products will not clean up with just water but require cleansers such as mineral spirits, among others. 

 

Since proper maintenance contributes to the formula’s durability, get one that you can comfortably sustain.

 

Conclusion

 

As we have seen above, the best clear finish for wood doors has many benefits when used well. Your wood surface will remain beautiful and able to withstand scratches and temperature changes. Some of the products can also fill the wood pores, eliminating the need for a wood filler before beginning the work.

 

My best pick among the reviewed finishes is the TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish, Gloss, and Satin Polyurethane Finish for Wood. It gives the wood a warm and beautiful finish. The product does not peel or wear out quickly because it expands and contracts as temperature and seasons change. Besides that, cleaning is easy and affordable as water does a good job.