They say when one door closes another one opens, but this only works if you haven’t painted the door shut. Luckily, I’ve written this handy guide on how to paint a door to ensure that both interior and exterior doors in your home are as fully functional as they're beautiful. In this article, we’ll explore the following:
You’ll also find answers on how to properly prepare a door for painting, what to do with door furniture such as hinges and handles, and how to ensure a clean finish. I hope that by the end of this guide, you’ll feel well-equipped to paint a door with precision
To paint a door, you will need:
You might also need:
IMPORTANT: If using a solvent-based primer then you must use a solvent-based paint. For water-based primers, use a water-based paint.
The process of painting both interior and exterior doors is similar, although there are a couple of extra considerations when painting exterior doors that I have highlighted in the instructions.
This step-by-step guide focuses on painting wooden doors, as they're most commonly used, but I've also included information on how to paint a UPVC door, as they're often used as exterior doors on new builds.
Please note that some steps below are used for existing doors only. If you’re buying a new door, you can skip steps 2 and 3.
If you’re painting an existing door, you can skip this step and jump to step 2.
Interior doors are likely to be made of wood, either solid or moulded with a hollow core. The hollow doors have a fibreglass core in a honeycomb pattern to give the door structure and stability. They are lighter and cheaper than solid wood doors.
Exterior doors can also be made of wood, but new builds will often install a UPVC door instead. The UPVC plastic is hard-wearing, waterproof, and can improve the energy efficiency of a home.
A new door won’t have any door furniture (i.e. hinges, handles etc.) fitted yet so you can skip this step and go straight to step 4.
Trust me when I say that painting a door is MUCH easier if you can remove the door from its hinges and take off all door furniture. Set all removed door furniture to one side and remember to store in a safe place.
If removing all door furniture isn’t possible, then make sure you at least remove handles and hooks.
Use painter’s tape over the top of the hinges, locks and any metal bits on the side of the door, to mask them from stray paint. Use a sharp blade to trim the tape to fit over the metal precisely.
If you’re redecorating an existing door, then it may already have paint on it, which you’ll need to remove. The easiest way to strip the paint off is by removing the door from the room and taking it outside.
Cover the door with paint stripper using a brush. Make sure you're wearing rubber gloves and a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Paint stripper is very toxic and inhaling the fumes can lead to serious health problems. Leave the paint stripper on the door for a set length of time, according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Take the paint off the door using a metal paint scraper and clean off remaining stripper with either vinegar or methylated spirits. Again, take care not to inhale fumes. Always use these products in a well-ventilated area.
A lot of people rush or skip these steps, as they underestimate how important they are. Take your time, and follow all the steps below so your doors are well prepared for a smooth and professional finish.
Some stores supply doors already sanded and primed, but chances are you’ll need to complete this step yourself.
First, clean the door using a soft cloth and soapy water. Ordinary washing up liquid will work fine.
Next, arm yourself with several sheets of sandpaper and rub the door thoroughly to smooth away any rough areas.
Wooden doors have dark whorls on them called knots. These knots need to be covered in ‘knotting’ which seals the knots and stops them from showing through the finished surface. Apply knotting to the door using a small brush
Primer is usually white, though if your final paint colour is a dark shade, you may get a better effect if you use a grey primer.
Using a small brush, apply primer to recessed areas (i.e. area A in Fig. 1 below). Next, fill in the remaining flat surfaces (B to D in Fig. 1) using a mini roller.
I cannot stress this enough; if you (or the door manufacturer) used a water-based primer, then you need a water-based top-coat. Likewise, use solvent-based or latex-based products together.
Take a look at what happened to this poor woman’s door when she accidentally used the wrong type of top-coat. Don’t be that women!
For exterior doors, remember to buy paint with weatherproofing included.
Interior doors are usually painted with a gloss finish. Purchase enough paint for at least two coats, plus touch-ups as required.
You’ll need a mini-roller and a roller tray for most of the painting, plus a small brush, no wider than 4cm, to paint the recessed areas if your door has them
Most decorators prefer a high-density foam roller as it applies paint evenly and with a smooth finish.
Using a small paint brush, paint the door’s recessed areas first (see the red areas A in Fig. 1. below).
Next, take your mini-roller and paint the areas B-D in alphabetical order
For further guidance on how to paint an external door, please watch the video below:
Here are some final tips to make your door look professionally painted:
For more tips on how to avoid mess when painting, check out our guide to Painting A Room With No Mess
So there you have it, a simple guide on how to paint a door.
Hopefully, you now understand how to choose the correct tools for the job, how to properly prepare a door for painting and the best order in which to paint the door.
If you follow these steps, your interior and exterior doors can be given a fresh look with minimum effort and a professional finish.
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Blogger who spent childhood suffering through many house renovations, but at least now is old enough to design rooms to her taste