We have beatiful Civil War era solid oak entry doors. Several years ago we stripped and sanded off all the many layers of paint, hoping to reveal and stain the wood beneath. What we found was banged-up wood that had dark marks in several places, almost like burns. We felt it was too unsightly to simply stain and seal, though our architect disagreed - he liked the "character". The contractor applied a base coat of wood-colored paint to even things out and then stained over it. It looked good, and still looks good on the interior side.
The outside is another story. We've oiled the doors several times (probably not as much as we should) but they always seem dry, and the finish has faded. Worse, the dark stain has chipped off in places, especially where people have taped flyers to our door. We live in NYC, and the doors only get a little direct sun. What should we do? Sand it all down and do it again? Just sand down the chipped areas, restain them to match, then seal the whole door? I've heard Marine Varnish and Penofin are good. What do you suggest?