Cold White Steel to Warm Rustic Wood


Lost Mule Lodge

… a journey that began with a cabin in the woods


What better place to start than right at our front door!

We wanted our exterior doors to be steel for all the usual reasons, the strength, warping wouldn’t be a problem and better insulation.  The problem with a steel door when your home is supposed to have a rustic feel: it is white steel!  There is nothing rustic about it.

So begins my challenge. Giving a cold, white, steel door the appearance of warm, rustic wood.   After weeks of experimenting and hair twirling, I think I NAILED IT…  not the door…  I didn’t nail the door.  But all that hair twirling helped me come up with a process that looks pretty good.

Here is a before photo from the outside.


The white door you see in the photo was temporary – when it came time to change it out – we would replace it with the beveled glass door, which was also white steel so the process is the same.  The process I used was not easy and takes about 3 days – which is exactly why we needed a temporary door.

I did follow the manufacturer’s instructions for prepping the door, drying times and the use of the graining tool.  Also, I used Spar Polyurethane (Marine Quality) due to the exterior doors being exposed to severe weather.

Here is a before photo of the inside.


After lightly sanding the door on both sides I spray painted both sides with a bonding type paint – the reason it made sense to pick a golden yellow is that is the color of raw wood, which is exactly what I wanted when I began to apply the stain.

When thoroughly dry – I applied the stain with a brush, next I used the graining tool according to package directions, slowly rocking while pulling in one direction – I applied the stain and grained it one section at a time.


Personally I found the use of the graining tool’s rocking motion was done best while listening to Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore”, but that is a personal choice.

The beauty of this process is that if you mess up – you can just brush on more stain and start graining the section over again. Be sure you are happy with the look before the polyurethane is applied.

It took a long time to dry – mine felt tacky for about 24 hours – once it is thoroughly dry, then brush on Spar Polyurethane – once that is dry I had to repeat the process on other side.


This process was done on the sidelites and door jam too. For me – practicing with the graining tool on painted scrap wood was key until I got the right look.

You can see the yellow color come through as I pressed the graining tool over the stain.

Here is the photo of the outside finished white steel door transformed into warm rustic faux wood.


And if you are admiring the stonework in the photos, you are not alone…  I admire it too.  It was all done by my hubby, George – he is the master of all things heavy…  and anything over 10 feet high…  and things that are complex…  okay, basically, I just did the doors.


When speaking about our entry – it just wouldn’t be right not to mention our Proud Indian – he is always keeping a faithful watch for our next guests.  You can tell by looking at him that it is all about the attitude, that piercing stare, the way he stands so proud with his tomahawk and offering cigars to our visitors.  I keep telling him he needs to breathe – relax and stop being so stone faced, but he has always been this way, he is just one of those intense types.  But we love him anyway.


You all have a great weekend, I have a couple of more steel doors to transform.

Until next time…..”When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, That’s Amore……”

Subscribe to get our email posts sent to your inbox so you never miss a post.

Copyright © Lost Mule Lodge 2016 All rights reserved.



      Hey there Julieta – I had to google “Lindo” – and my response is Gracias! I knew it had to mean something good – coming from such a Beautiful Brazilian as yourself!

  1. Maddy

    Just finished reading this one! It is 7 am on Friday.Started this new day with a big smile on my face😊Your personality shines thru in your blog……makes me feel like we are sitting in your sunroon drinking coffee with bailey’s in it…….


      You are such a sweetheart, Thank you for always cheering me on! Sing away little girlfriend! ….When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine….

  2. Mary Kay

    Absolutely beautiful transformation! Combined with the gorgeous stonework…I’m doing a lot of sighing in pleasure here 🙂

    …and hard to beat the “King of Cool” Dean Martin…


      Thank you Mary Kay, I was with you when we shared a drink with Dean Martin at that little shop in Lee’s Summit – Never thought we’d run into him there!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *