Finishing Doors

Finishers discuss ways to efficiently spray large quantities of interior doors. September 11, 2006

A general contractor in my area expressed interest in having me finish all of his trim and doors. What is the best way to finish a large quantity of doors? I was thinking of setting up some type of track to hang them from, so I can move them around in the booth. I have 75 doors to finish and all of the trim for 3 houses before August.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor P:
Check out Pivot-Pro. They make a rack system that allows you to finish, flip and store drying doors.

From contributor T:
I am a home builder and we finish all of our interior doors onsite. We screw 2' 2x4's to each end of each door using 3" decking screws. This allows us to stack the doors for drying so that we don't risk getting runs. To spray, we use two 5-gallon buckets to keep the door off the ground. We lay the door down so the 2x4's are resting on the buckets. After spraying, we grab the door by the 2x4's and stack it in another room. Since all the weight is on the 2x4's, you can stack the doors as high as you can safely handle them. Since the door is never vertical while wet, we never get runs.

After letting them dry for about an hour, we stand them up and lean them against a wall. That way, we avoid any warp that could occur if you left them suspended by their ends for a prolonged period of time.

This method typically takes about a half hour of prep time and another half hour to remove all of the 2x4's. We keep the 2x4's with the screws in them so we don't have to replace them for each house.

The only down side I can think of is that it does take two people to maneuver the doors. If you will be doing this by yourself, the Pivot Pro sounds like it would be a better choice.

From contributor C:
Try They have a product called Door Deckers, which allow you to spray both sides of the door and stack them to dry and I'm sure it's cheaper than a pivoting rack system unless you are going to do doors for a living.

From contributor J:
I used to spray entry doors in high-rise commercial buildings. I would stand them up, hooking them together with wood strips. We would shoot as many as 150 doors a day, depending on their shape and color.

From the original questioner:
Didn't you get overspray on one side of the doors when you did that? We tried that with the first 10 doors we sprayed and one side turned out great, but the other side was crap. My original idea was to use a similar track system to what they use in a slaughterhouse for moving meat around, and set the track up in a U shape in the finish room.

From contributor O:
The hook and trolley system you describe is a common way they finish doors and windows in Europe. My cousin in Italy has this system in his shop. The track runs in front of an open face booth; the holders are designed so the door or window can be rotated. They have clever layouts beyond the basic U for parking parts to dry. My cousin uses a pole with a hook to move the fresh sprayed units. Over there, lacquers and exterior finishes can be ordered with vertical hold to avoid runs. They make finishing doors and windows a true one-person job.

There are many companies that make these. I think it might be possible to make a low tech system out of Richards Wilcox track and trolleys. At present we are using the Pivot Pro system. It is low cost and works reasonably well till you get to large doors or windows. Their holding screws are very marginal. You need an extra person standing by to help the sprayer move doors. A German company makes a similar device, only better engineered, for heavy doors and ease of use. Cost for this is about $2000. Still a 2 person operation, though. We have tried all the methods listed in the above posts and the Pivot Pro, in my opinion, is the best of those. The horizontal stacking works fine with lacquer, but slow drying finishes like Sikkins take two plus days to dry stacked like that. And if you're doing lacquer, the first door off to sand is the last one you sprayed.