How to Paint a Door (the Right Way!)

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We've been rolling right along with home renovations! One area I've been neglecting in a major way is the front door. We replaced the old oak door with a Craigslisted glass panel door awhile back, which really brightened the space up. The gal we bought it from, though, unfortunately let Pinterest woo her into chalk painting it. Chalk paint + front door = no go UNLESS you slap on a bunch of varnish to seal it afterwards. She didn't. So I had to figure out how to paint a door.

The bright white color, improperly finished, attracted all sorts of dust and dirt and fingerprints here on the farm. I quickly got annoyed with having to clean my front door every three days and decided to start from scratch.

How to paint a door

Time to paint it black. Cue the Rolling Stones!

Front door white and black before and after

I've seen a lot of impressive front door makeovers, but I didn't want to change anything other than the paint during this project. For new homeowners especially, I think it can be overwhelming to comprehend ALL of the little details at once. There's something to be said for the incredible transformation that can come from simply opening up a can. I don't have the time or capacity to clean up the overall messiness of farm life right now. But I can wield a brush with the best of them!

How to Paint a Door off the Hinges

For interior doors, I often just use a paint pad to slap a coat on while the door's in place. For the gloss or semi-gloss finish of an exterior door, though, it really is best to remove it from the hinges and lay it flat on some sawhorses. Use a drill or screwdriver to remove all of the hardware, taking care to store the screws with the accessories that they go with.

How to paint a door - removing hinge pins

Stick the end of a flathead screwdriver under the hinge pins and bang up on the bottom of it to loosen the pins. Then, remove the door and set it on some sawhorses over a tarp outside. Now we're officially ready to prep and paint the door!

How to Paint a Front Door (the right way!)

Apply tape to any removing decorative items or windows, entirely covering the non-paint surface and leaving the wood completely exposed. I take a straight edge or my fingernail and press down firmly to make sure the tape is down really well and no paint will seep underneath it. Sand the door with sandpaper ranging from 150 hard grit down to 320 soft grit until you have a smooth surface without any flaking paint or wood chips. This is a good time to go ahead and patch any imperfections in the door with putty or wood filler, too. Now, stir up your paint really well and pour it into a clean, dry paint pan.

We used True Value’s new private label paint line EasyCare. We have a True Value here in our small town and it's become my go-to spot for all of these little projects. The workers there are so helpful and k?????nowledgeable! They pointed me to the EasyCare Ultra Premium Exterior line because it has low odor, it's mold- and mildew-resistant, comes with a lifetime warranty, it's made in the USA and it's totally scrubbable. Perfect for a front door! It's also a phenomenal value. For the interior doors, we're going to use the EasyCare 365 Interior version, which has a 20-year warranty and is also washable.

How to paint a door from top to bottom, getting paint into the detailed crevices

On doors like ours that have decorative accents, start with the highest cross-sections and work your way into the details. This will ensure that you are able to spread any drips that fall downward into the crevices, so there will be a smooth finish without paint pooling. A short cub brush or trim brush is perfect for getting into these tight areas and corners. Work as quickly as you can, using a roller on the large flat areas of the door. Try to roll over any edges that you've painted with the brush while they're still wet. This will ensure that the roller and brush marks blend together and “lay flat” when they dry.

How to remove tape from a painted door

Hang it back up and put all the hardware on after it dries, and then run a straight edge along the inner edge of the tape to loosen it from the paint.

How to touch up paint on a door

If you happen to notice any spots or nicks when you're hanging it, this is a good time to touch up with that same trim brush. Apply the tiniest amount of paint and then run your brush along the grain so it blends right in.

Black door with kids in front of the house

While I was painting the front door, I also went ahead and taped off the area and sprayed a can of XO Rust on the security door to freshen up its sheen.

Black door with dog in front of the house

Doesn't Kraken look totally regal in front of our freshly-painted door?

Front Door white and black

The before-and-after is pretty impressive, if you ask me!

How to paint a door

I might apply some of the same EasyCare paint to that orange-ish light on the left because all of the sudden it's standing out and driving me nuts. Then I just have to get the tile laid down out here, pull that bush out, put up some shutters and maybe add some brightly-colored pots. Phew.

What color would you like to paint your front door?


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