A great finish begins with a properly prepared surface, and Antigua doors are all sanded by hand to ensure the best possible surface preparation. Machine sanding, the method employed by a majority of door manufacturers today, is inferior to hand sanding because only the human hand can reach the edges and molding details found on a high end door. In addition, hand sanders can also see and feel surface flaws that require additional attention. Hand sanding continues throughout Antigua’s multi-step finish process, ensuring proper adhesion between coats, as well as a smooth, high quality feel or “hand” to the final product.
Our sophisticated 20 step finishing process showcases the rich colors and striking grains of our hardwoods. This process involves hand rubbed wiping stains, sprayed on stain concentrates, toning, polyurethane sealers, patinas, and glazes. Panels are pre-stained prior to assembly in order to avoid “white wood” exposure in dry conditions. Our products are protected with our exclusive polyurethane finish specially formulated for the highest level of protection available on the market. Exterior door finishes have an additional additive to protect against harmful ultraviolet rays. A superior product requires a fanatical attention to detail.
20- Step Process
- Lumber Preparation
All bench assembled doors pass through a strict quality control process prior to finishing which include both visual and physical tests. The Lumber’s moisture content is tested to insure that it has not risen above 8%, which could be harmful to a quality finish by preventing proper adhesion.
- Hand Sanding
Our doors are hand sanded using a series of paper grits until a smooth texture is attained. Magnifying glasses are used to inspect the lumber for defects such as “curling” which can detract from the overall look of a finish.
- Ultraviolet Inspection
All Antigua Doors pass through our ultraviolet room where special lighting is used to detect glue remnants that might remain on the lumber after the sanding process. Excessive glue will cause adhesion problems and could lead to “flaking” and finish breakdown.
- Hand Rubbed Wiping Stain
Our doors then enter our wiping stain booth where the first coat of stain is hand applied to the hardwood. Hand-rubbing is the only way to insure that the base stain properly penetrates the wood fibers. This is important to avoid blotchy and uneven finishes.
- Hand Sprayed NGR and/ or Dye Stains
Next, our doors move on to the second stain booth where a contrasting NGR or dye is lightly applied to give depth and “flip” to the finish. This step is extremely important in creating a “rich” appearance and avoiding the “flat” finish most commonly found in the marketplace.
An artisan then carefully air brushes areas of the door needed to “tone out” any visual defects that might be present. Part of the objective is to “even out” the overall appearance of the door. Only a carefully trained craftsperson is capable of completing this step.
- Drying Oven (One)
The two contrasting stain coats are now baked in our first oven to achieve a dry, properly toned, and precisely level base for the subsequent steps that make up our beautiful and durable finishes.
- First Coat, Polyurethane Sealer
The first coat of polyurethane sealer is applied to “lock down” the contrasting color stains and provide the first level of protection to our doors. Failing to “lock down” the base and wiping stains can result in a “muddied” finish that lacks depth.
- Second Coat, Polyurethane Sealer
The second coat of polyurethane sealer is applied to provide further protection. The polyurethane sealer also helps to fill in the hardwood’s open grain pores, while knocking down the burr hairs found in the woods natural grain.
Special calibrated equipment called a wet mil is next employed to carefully test the thickness of the sealer. If applied too thick, cracking can occur in a finish. If applied too thin, a door might not have adequate protection. Proper monitoring insures that every Antigua door has the right amount of finish material.
- Drying Oven (Two)
Our doors next pass through a second drying oven where the sealer is cured at an optimum rate.
- Hand Sanding
After the sealer has dried, our doors are lightly “scuff sanded” to further close the woods natural pores. This is an exhaustive process that requires time and patience to be completed properly. Additional benefits of hand sanding are that it knocks down any remaining wood fibers while facilitating proper adhesion for the patinas and glazes, as well as the top coats that will follow.
- Patina and Glaze Application and Removal
Next, patinas and glazes are applied to all parts of our doors to give them a rich and antiquated appearance. Artisans then hand rub the patinas and glazes between the moldings, panels, and character marks, which highlights these areas. The glazes and patinas are then removed from areas in which it is not desired.
- Patina and Glaze Toning
Carefully trained artisans then methodically re-add and remove additional glazes and patinas to certain areas of our doors. A unique and special artisan is required to complete this step with an “eye” for quality, and an inherent understanding of what “naturally antiquated” means. Too often in the door industry, this step is either avoided or mechanized to a point in which the antiquated look is forced and artificial. Antigua Doors are genuine.
- First Coat, Polyurethane Finish
A special top coat of polyurethane sealer is then applied to lock in the patinas and glazes, and provide further protection to our doors.
- Second Coat, Polyurethane Finish
A second lawyer of top coat is then immediately applied to provide the strongest protection available. An ultraviolet inhibiter is added for exterior doors to help protect against the suns harmful rays. Antigua Door top coats are specially formulated, extremely durable, and are highly resistant to moisture penetration and sun.
- Second Calibration
Wet mil equipment is used again to carefully test the thickness of the top coat material. Again, if applied too thick, cracking can occur. If applied too thin, a door might not have optimal protection. A special attention to detail is important in determining the ultimate durability and integrity of our doors.
- Drying Oven (Three)
Our doors then pass through a specially designed drying tunnel to bond all of the finish elements to the maximum strength. Drying at the optimal rate eliminates problems than can occur when curing happens too quickly, and reduces exposure to contamination when drying takes place too slowly.
- Hand Rubbed Smooth Finish
All doors are once again carefully rubbed down by hand to insure a smooth and even “hand”. Any roughness is “fine sanded”. Antigua’s finishes can be both “felt”, as well as visually appreciated.
- Quality Control and Final Toning
Independent Quality Control Experts inspect our doors after they are removed from the finishing line. Their job is to look for any type of defect that might affect the durability of a finish, or distract from the door’s overall appearance. Any areas that require further attention are highlighted, and toning craftsman are called in to “tone out” visual defects and make sure the overall look meets Antigua Door standards. These Quality Control Experts are ultimately responsible for the future finish integrity of each Antigua Door.