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How To Paint a Door In 6 Simple Steps

Painting a door can breathe new life into a tired interior or a weathered exterior. If a door’s integrity is still intact, but you are looking for a quick upgrade, painting can be a viable option. Painting doors is a simple process that can add a fresh pop of color or a glossy new coat of freshness inside and outside. As a bonus, the process of painting a door opens doors for even further upgrades, including new hardware or even a new screen door.

Here is how you can paint your door in six steps.

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Before embarking on a painting adventure, you are going to need to gather some supplies. First, one of the best tools for painting doors is a paint gun. Doors can be painted without a gun, but the gun makes the job so much easier. Paint guns are extra helpful if you plan on painting more than one door.

Other materials you will need to paint your door include the following:

  • Paint
  • Primer
  • Brush
  • Roller
  • Drop cloth
  • Painters tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Rag
  • Mineral spirits

Optional items include:

  • Paint tray
  • Paint gun
  • Measuring tape
  • Screen door
  • New hardware
man mixing green paint
Image By: M_Agency, Shutterstock

Painting a single door can take anywhere from three to six hours, depending on whether the door needs to be primed. For interior doors, the skill level required is minimal, but exterior doors might require a little extra know-how.

Even if you need to buy everything on the list, the whole job should cost less than $200, with optional items not included. If you go all out and replace the hardware, add a screen door, and buy the paint gun, the total is going to creep up closer to $400. But the results will be worth it!

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How To Paint a Door: The Process

1. Choose Paint

One of the most important parts of painting a door is choosing the right paint. Doors can be any color you want as long as the paint will fit the door. Interior doors can be painted with standard interior paint. Exterior doors often need special paint. It is imperative to know what kind of door you have on the outside of your house so you can choose the proper paint.

Most exterior doors today are either fiberglass or metal, but some are still wood. Fiberglass and metal doors will require paint designed to stick to those specific surfaces. The same goes for the primer. Make sure you choose the correct paint for the job, so you do not run into problems down the line. Making this decision is more than simply about color!

paint cans
Image Credit: zivica, Pixabay

2. Clean and Prep Door

The next step is to clean and prep the door for paint. This involves wiping down the door to free it of any dirt or dust that might be present. Some doors will require sanding to make a good surface that is ready to take paint and primer, and this is especially true of exterior doors. Interior doors often come pre-primed and ready to paint. If they are in the house and are already white, they should be good to go with little prep.

Make sure the door is smooth and clean before attempting to paint or prime it.

If you are leaving the door on the hinges, you will need to tape up the trim and the casing to prevent paint contamination. If you are taking the door off the hinges, you do not need to do as much taping, if any at all.

Should I Take The Door Down Or Paint It Standing Up?

The choice of whether to paint a door standing up or lying down is determined by a few factors. First, how comfortable are you removing the door from its hinges? Removing interior doors is rather simple but removing an exterior door can be a bit trickier. Exterior doors are heavier, and maintaining their balance and swing is much more important than on an interior door.

Second, how easy is it to prep the door in place? Keeping the hardware free from paint and making sure you don’t have a big mess on your hands is a vital step in having a smooth painting experience. Keeping the door standing will mean using a lot more tape and prepping the area more carefully. If the trim is in the way or nearby walls, you might want to consider laying the door down to paint it.

3. Remove Hardware

The next step involves removing the door’s hardware. It is much easier to paint a door that does not have the handles installed. Take your screwdriver, unscrew the handle or knob and remove it. If you do not remove the hardware, you will have a hard time getting a good coat around the handle.

If you are laying the door down, be sure to remove the hinges as well. Take your screwdriver, remove the screws holding the hinges in place, and set everything aside. Do not lose any of the screws for either the handles or the hinges, as they can be irritating to replace if lost.

installing Door knob
Image Credit: kurhan, Shutterstock

4. Prime Door

As mentioned, many modern interior doors come primed. If the surface of the door looks good and it came from the shop primed in white, you can skip this step. You should always prime an exterior door to prevent bubbling and running. Put one good coat of primer on the door. Interior doors will use standard interior primer, while external doors will need a special exterior primer. Let the primer dry before continuing to the next step.

5. Paint Door

Once the door is adequately prepped and primed, it is time to paint. If you are using the paint gun, paint with long slow motions covering the door from top to bottom. Do not linger in any one place for too long to avoid pooling. Also, avoid the urge to zigzag or backtrack. Only use long even strokes going horizontally across the door.

If you are using a brush and roller, start with the center of the door. Paint the raised panels with a brush, being sure to get into all of the crevasses. Next, paint the flat surfaces of the door with the roller using long even strokes. Next, use the brush to touch up the edges so everything is smooth and consistent. Give the door one good coat and let it dry.

Optional: Add a Screen Door

If you are painting your exterior door, now is a great time to add a screen door. The door might already be off its hinges, and everything in the area will be cleaned and prepped, ready to add a screen door where there was none before. Measure and mount the screen door to your exterior door frame after the paint has dried. This addition is a great way to give your front door an even greater facelift than a simple coat of paint.

white screen door
Image Credit: Kawin Ounprasertsuk, Shutterstock

How To Measure For a Screen Door

Here is how to measure for a screen door while the exterior door is off the hinges. First, measure the height of the door. Draw your tape from the bottom of the sill up to the underside of the top frame. Measure twice for good measure. Next, measure the width of the door in three places—measure along the top, the middle, and the bottom. Take the smallest measurements for both width and height. These measurements should correlate to a standard-sized storm door that can be purchased from your local home improvement store.

6. Replace Hardware, Check The Door, Touch Up

The last step is to put everything back and ensure that it is in working order. This is the time to put the door slabs back on the hinges and replace any hardware, including knobs, handles, and pulls. This is a great time also to replace your door hardware. There is no reason not to put brand-new hardware on your freshly painted door. Whether you are looking to change the style of your handles or the finish of your hinges, putting new hardware on at this stage is simple.

If you are not upgrading any hardware, simply replace the existing hardware being sure to tighten all of the screws properly.

Make sure that the door swings properly and that everything is back in its proper place. Look for areas on the door that might need a quick touch-up. Adding some touch-ups is common. Entries rarely need a second coat of paint.

Remove the painters’ tape and check to ensure you don’t have any splatters. Remove any wayward paint using a cloth and mineral spirits to be sure that the trim, frame, and hinges are all free from paint.

painting front door
Image Credit: wavebreakmedia, Shutterstock

Related Read: How To Fix a Screen Door In 10 Steps

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There you have it, a door that is sure to look brand new. Whether you are simply painting an old interior door or revamping the whole front of your house, these steps will ensure a smooth project from start to finish. New paint, some new finishes, and a unique handle can genuinely transform a tired door into something completely different. Painting a door without paying to replace the whole door unit can give you a stellar upgrade without shelling out the cash for a total replacement.

Featured Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay


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