House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Paint a Metal Front Door

Newly Painted Metal Door

If you have a metal front door, you can’t paint it just like any other door. Instead, you will need to prep the door appropriately before the painting job begins. If you do not properly prep your door, you should not expect the final product to come out great.

To learn how to paint a metal front door correctly, keep reading.

divider 1

Why Metal from Doors Require Special Painting

Many painted doors are made from wood. Wooden doors are relatively easy to paint. Just slap on a coat of primer and then finish the job with a fresh coat of paint. Unfortunately, you cannot do this with metal doors. Metal can be a bit difficult for paint to hold onto, which can result in chipping. Grease and rust can make the job even tougher.

So, metal doors don’t just need paint. Instead, you will have to extensively prep the door before you begin the painting process. Prepping a metal door isn’t too difficult, but it is critical if you want the paint job to look good. For this reason, you don’t paint metal the way you paint wooden doors.

Image By: Free-Photos, Pixabay

What You’ll Need

  • Painter’s tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Degreaser
  • Three rags
  • Paint stripper
  • Sandpaper
  • Multi-surface primer
  • Paint roller
  • Angular sash brush
  • Exterior paint

divider 5

Prepping the Door

As we discussed above, prepping a metal door is a must for paint. The job of the prepping stage is to create the best foundation pull for the paint to latch onto. If the door is prepped properly, the paint should hold on to the door and look beautiful for years to come.

Here are the steps for prepping your metal door before painting it:

Remove Hardware

The first step to prepping your metal door is to remove the door and the hardware. This step is exactly the same as it would be with a wooden door. Technically, this step is not required, but it prevents any paint from getting on the furnishings you don’t want it to.

For best results, remove the door and remove the letterbox, handles, hinges, knockers, and anything else actually attached to the door. If you can’t remove these pieces for whatever reason, use painter’s tape over the items so that you get a clean finish.

Clean the Door

Next, you will need to clean off the metal door. Because the door is made from metal, you will need to use a degreaser specifically. Simply put the solution on the rag and rub it over the door. This will remove any grease, oil, dirt, or anything else from the door’s surface.

After you have thoroughly cleaned the door with the degreaser, grab a dry cloth and wipe it down thoroughly. This will remove any excess degreaser product. Allow the door to sit for two hours so that any remaining moisture can dry up.

Remove Paint If Needed

If the paint is beginning to flake off, you will have to strip off the paint. You can do this using a paint stripper or a heat gun. If you do not remove flaky paint, the new layer of paint will not go on smoothly. Make sure to do this step in a well-ventilated area.

Sand the Door

The next thing to do is to sand down the door. The purpose of sanding down the door is to remove any bumps and to create a surface that the primer can grasp onto. Use 400-grit sandpaper and slowly rub it against the surface with a light hand.

Pay attention to see if the door has any rust on it. If the rust is only light, you should be able to sand it away. If the rust is extensive, you will need to replace the door entirely.

After you are done sanding, get a damp cloth and quickly wipe down the door. This will remove any dust from the sanding process. You don’t want any of this dust left standing because it will get stuck in the prime and paint.

different types of sanders
Image Credit: Vitalis83, Shutterstock


It is time to prime the door. You will want a high-quality primer. Most individuals prefer multi-surface primers. Get a paint roller and an angled brush to get it done. Make sure that the primer dries thoroughly in between coats and add a second layer if needed.

divider 1 How to Paint a Metal Front Door

Warehouse metal doors
Image credit: kerttu, Pixabay

Only after you have properly prepped the door can you actually paint your metal door. If you have already gone through all the prepping steps, you are almost done. Painting the metal door is nowhere near as difficult as prepping it. Here is what you will need to do to paint the door:

Select Your Paint

Select a paint that matches your home and preferences. Make sure that the pain is specifically designed for exterior use since the door will see more wear and tear.

Apply the Paint

Finally, you get to paint your metal door. Use a paint roller to apply the paint on the flat surfaces and the angular sash brush for the paneled and cornered areas. You will want to do at least two coats to the outside of your door, but make sure the coat is completely dry before adding a new one.

If you are painting both sides of the door, only do one side at a time. It will be difficult to paint the door without any problems if you try to paint both sides at the same time.

Wait a minimum of 12 hours before touching your door. This will ensure that the door is thoroughly dried and suitable for being touched.

Replace Door and Hardware

The very last thing to do is to replace the door and hardware. Only do this after the paint is dry. This should be quick and easy.

door knob on glass door
Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay

divider 5

What If the Paint Is Flaking Off My Door?

If the paint is flaking off your door before you begin painting, you need to deal with this during the prepping stage. Remove any remaining paint so that you have a completely clean surface to work on.

Sometimes, the paint will begin flaking after you add a fresh coat. This tells you that you did not properly prep the door beforehand. You will need to remove the coat and start all over again. Even though this certainly will be annoying, it will be worth it since you will have a perfect door at the end. Pay close attention to the sanding and primer steps.

divider 1


Painting a metal front door requires a lot more prep than other doors. This prep ensures that the paint clings onto the door properly and looks beautiful whenever you are finished. Most of the difficult work happens during the prep stage, not the painting stage.

Aside from prepping the door properly, always make sure you use primer and paint designed for metal and outdoor conditions. This really can make or break the durability and the efficiency of your paint job.

Featured Image Credit: David Papazian, Shutterstock


Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools