Our Guide for Door Finishes

Installing new doors into a new property, be it externally or internally requires a number of considerations. One of which is how the door is finished. There are a number of different finishes that doors are made in and are as follows:

  • Unfinished 
  • Pre-finished 
  • Fully Finished 
  • Primed 

Different manufacturers often describe each of these slightly differently, which causes much confusion when looking to buy a door. The aim of this guide will be to make completely clear the differences between these door finishes; what makes them similar and what separates them apart. Ultimately, helping you decide on which one will best fit your requirements.

What is the difference between Unfinished and Primed?

It turns out, there is very little difference at all, it is usually the manufacturer's preference of which term they use. These doors can also be known as ‘pre-primed’. But these names all mean the same thing.

Unfinished, Primed or Pre-primed doors all allow flexibility for the user. Simply, this means that after purchasing the door it requires yourself to paint or varnish it.

Primed doors have been prepared with an undercoat, ready for a top coat finish. This undercoat is most commonly white paint, which leaves ready for a one coat finish and allows the buyer to add their choice of coloured paint on top. This kind of door does not require varnishing. These doors can also be referred to as ‘Pre-primed’ by some manufacturers.

Unfinished doors just come with no coats at all, just their wooden finish. This type of door gives the buyer the option of either using varnish, paint or stain to finish the door.

When finishing your door yourself, it is vital that you sand the surface before applying the paint or varnish. This allows for the removal of any finger marks or nibs and ensures a smooth finish to your preventing moisture from getting trapped beneath the finish.

This option would be great for want of a door colour or decor that is not available on-the-shelf.

Pre-finished vs Fully Finished

Pre-finished and Fully finished doors are quite simply the same thing. They both refer to doors that are readily painted or varnished. This makes them fully prepared to be hung immediately after purchase.

Most manufacturers recommend purchasing pre-finished doors because it is guaranteed that they will have been correctly finished, giving them better durability.

This type of door avoids extra hassle and time in the installation.


Some manufacturers may also refer to their doors as ‘Veneer’, so what does this mean?

A veneer is a thin slice of timber used as a decorative material on the face of doors. Veneered doors can come in both unfinished and finished states.

Veneer outer layers are found on Engineered doors which are typically less expensive. The veneer is then an outer layer of more expensive wood, such as Oak, which gives the look of a solid wood door. The trimming limit on Veneered doors is less than Solid Wood Doors because of the risk of cutting into the door core.

Unfinished doors can sometimes be named ‘unfinished and veneered’ or ‘Veneer Unfinished’. This means that the Outer Layer Veneer has not been varnished or painted before purchase.

Pre-Finished or Fully finished Doors can be known as ‘Veneered Pre-finished’. This simply means that the veneer used for the outer layer of that door has been varnished or painted making it ready for immediate hanging.


This guide should have hopefully dismantled and explained the confusion around different door finishes. The fact is, manufacturers sometimes make it more confusing than it is by using different terms. Actually, it is much simpler than you think and this information should help make your decision easier.

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