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How to Paint a Front Door in 3 Easy Steps

man painting door

Painting a door can be a bit more complex than you might think at first. Not only does it require special painting knowledge, but it also requires planning, research, and prep. If you fail to do the work before painting the door, the door will likely not turn out the way you want it to.

To prevent this from happening, we have created this article that explains how to paint a front door. Keep reading for more.

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What You’ll Need

  • Painter’s tape
  • Tarp
  • Screwdriver
  • Wet rag
  • Dry rag
  • Degreaser
  • Sandpaper
  • Roller
  • Paintbrush
  • Outdoor primer and paint
  • Container for keeping track of hardware

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The 3 Steps to Painting a Front Door

1. Prep the Door

man installing new door
Image By: Elizaveta Galitckaia, Shutterstock

Even after you have planned and researched painting your door, it still is not time to paint it yet. You will need to prep the door first. Prepping the door is essential to get a clean look.

  • Remove the Door: If you have a glass or screen door, remove the front door from the hinges. This is the best way to get an even coat without the paint getting on any other surface. It also creates a cleaner look. We recommend removing the door if it is possible. If you cannot remove the door for any reason, you will want to use painter’s tape and tarps to thoroughly cover all the areas you want to avoid. This will not be as effective as removing the door, but it will help to at least protect other areas.
  • Remove Hardware: If you decide to remove the door or use tarps, remove all hardware, like the handle. This will make it a lot easier to get a clean finish on the door. We recommend putting the screws and hardware in a bowl so that they don’t get lost while you are working on the door.
  • Work on Imperfections: The last thing you need to do in the prep phase is work on any imperfections. More than likely, your door will have smudges, cracks in the paint, or other broken bits. You’ll want to wipe down the door with a wet rag and degreaser to remove the grime properly. Then, use sandpaper to remove any imperfections. Wipe away the excess dust using a dry rag before moving on.

2. Paint the Door

painting door
Image Credit: congerdesign, Piqsels

Next, it’s time to actually paint the door. Painting the front door is a lot easier than planning, researching, and prepping for it. This part of the process is by far the easiest if you are patient.

  • Prime the Door: The first thing you need to do is prime the door using your selected outdoor primer. You will want to cover the door completely using a roller and paintbrush. The roller will help you apply the primer quickly to the flat surfaces but use the paintbrush to cover trim and any detail work as well. You will want to let the primer dry completely before using the paint. If the primer is not dried properly, you will run into issues later.
  • Start Painting: Once the primer is dry, paint the door with your selected paint. Use the same method described above to apply the paint. Use the roller for the flat surfaces of the door but use a paintbrush to get into the detail work. Let the layer of paint dry. Depending on the paint you get, you will likely need to apply a second coat. Just repeat the process of the first coat and let it dry. Even if the instructions on the paint do not require a second coat, the second coat may be worth the effort. Just as before, let the paint layer completely dry before moving on to the next step.

3. Reattach the Hardware

wooden door installation
Image Credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

The last thing you need to do is reattach the hardware. This includes putting the door back on the frame if applicable and putting the knobs and hinges back on the door. This is the final touch for painting your front door. Be confident that all the paint is dry before doing this, though.

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Don’t Forget to Plan and Research

Before you grab paint and throw it on your door, there’s a lot of planning and research that needs to be done first. For example, you will have to decide the best time to paint, the paint color, and the paint type. If you don’t think about these factors beforehand, you could easily find yourself in an avoidable mistake.

Best Time to Paint

You always want to paint a door when you actually have the time to do it. You should not expect to paint the door after work. You will likely need to prep the door, and you might have to make touch-ups. For this reason, you will want to paint the door when you have ample time, such as on a weekend.

For a front door specifically, you will also have to think about the weather. Since you will need to take the door down, you likely don’t want to get this job done when it is raining or storming. So, plan to do your front door on a weekend when the weather is nice out.

Painting wood dye
Image Credit: bricoydeco, Pixabay

Selecting the Right Paint

You’ll need to select the right paint as well. This includes the color and paint type. Let’s start with the paint type. Your exterior door will need to be primed, and it will need to be outdoor-friendly. The primer will need to match the type of paint you select.

Select the ideal color that matches the exterior of your home as well. You can narrow down the search by taping paint chips to the door. Once you have only a few options to consider, get samples of the paint so that you can swatch the colors next to one another. Look at the paint at different times during the day so you can see how it looks as the light changes.

Can You Paint a Front Door Without Removing It?

It is possible to paint a front door without removing it from its hinges, but this may be more difficult and result in less crisp lines.

The purpose of removing the door from its hinges is to get an even coat of paint that does not touch any of the hardware or other surfaces. As a result, removing the door from its hinges creates the best final look. Of course, you will likely want a screened-in door or another alternative to keep bugs and other pests out of the home while you are painting it.

In the case that it is impossible to remove your door before painting it, you will want to be diligent in using painter’s tape and tarps to prevent other surfaces from being painted. You will also want to be incredibly careful when painting around the hinges. This will help you get an exact line all around the door.

painting front door
Image Credit: wavebreakmedia, Shutterstock

Should I Use a Brush or Roller to Paint a Door?

When painting the front door, you will likely want to use both a roller and a paintbrush. Most doors have flat, detailed, and indented surfaces. Using the roller and paintbrush will ensure that all surfaces are painted properly.

Use the roller to paint the flat surfaces of the door. Given that the flat surfaces take up most of the door, the roller will cover most of the area quickly. After that, go in with a paintbrush to paint the detail work, trimming, and areas not touched by the rollers.

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Final Thoughts

The actual process of painting a front door is not overwhelming. The tricky part lies in researching, planning, and prepping the door. It’s essential to focus on prep-work just as you focus on the actual painting phase. By following the steps above, you should have a clean-looking door that increases the curb appeal of your home.

Featured Image Credit: Mabeline72, Shutterstock


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