How to Paint a Front Door – Top Tips to Revive Your Old Door

November 26, 2020


Learning how to paint a front door can give the exterior of your home a much-needed boost. Believe it or not, it can even increase the resale value of your home. So, if your front door is looking a little bit boring, keep reading to find out how you can revive it.

We’ll show you how to paint a front door that’s made of metal or wood, and which colours you should choose. This guide will take you through the whole process, from prepping and priming to the right painting techniques, so that you can get great results.


Ready to start planning your budget for your painting project? Check out our exterior painting price guide for complete information on all the factors that influence painting costs!


How to Paint a Front Door Made of Wood


Step 1. Work Under the Right Conditions

With any external painting project, painting in the right weather conditions is essential. So, make sure before you begin that there won’t be any extreme temperatures while you are painting.

Drying is also an essential part of the painting process. Don’t forget to factor this in, and allow at least 24 hours of stable weather. Sun, wind, and rain all affect the colour and texture of the paint. Make sure that you always paint in shady conditions.


Step 2. Deal with Your Hardware

Hardware such a letterboxes and door handles can impede the painting process. So, instead of awkwardly painting around them, if possible it’s a good idea to remove them before you begin. Use a flathead screwdriver to loosen the screws and slide the hardware away from the door.

However, understandably this isn’t always possible. If you can’t remove the hardware from your front door, there is another way. Alternatively, you can instead use painters tape over the hardware. This should protect it from paint splashes.


Painting your front door


Step 3. Strip Any Old Paint from the Door

Just with any painting project, the amount of time you dedicate to preparing your front door will determine your results.

Start by accessing the door. Are you working with wood or metal? Is the old paint peeling off? If the door is in a bad state, you might need to use a paint stripper and wire scouring pad to remove the old paint.

Paint stripper tends to be very abrasive, so always handle it carefully. You should wear rubber gloves and a face mask. Also, if you have taken the door off its hinges to paint it inside, always make sure that you are woking in a well-ventilated area. Preferably, it’s best to do this step outside.

If the paint on your front door is in relatively good shape, you can skip this step. However, you will definitely need to do the next priming steps, even if the door is in good condition.


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Step 4. Sand down the Door

If your front door is made of wood, you will definitely need to sand it before you can begin painting. Sanding down the front door will leave you with a smooth surface that can be easily painted later on.

Initially, you might want to begin by using an electric sander. An electrical sander will significantly speed up the sanding process, and it will save you a lot of hard work. Instead of buying a brand new sander, if you are on a budget you can rent one by the day.

Once the bulk of the door has been sanded, you should go over any intricate areas with a sanding sponge. Using a sanding sponge will allow you to sand down any ridges and grooves in the door that are otherwise tricky to reach.

You should always use a fine sandpaper for this type of job. A 220 grit sandpaper is ideal. As always, it is better to sand slowly and lightly when you begin. This will prevent you from damaging the wood.


Step 5. Clean the Door Thoroughly

Before you begin to paint your front, you need to make sure that it is totally clean. This is the easiest and quickest way to make sure that the paint sticks to the surface. Front doors are exposed to the elements, therefore, they will need to be properly cleaned before you can start painting.

To clean a wood surface, TSP works brilliantly. In order to prepare TSP, you will need to dilute it, usually 1/4 of a cup per gallon of water. Apply the solution using a sponge. Give it time to properly sink into the surface.

You should rinse off the surface with clean water afterwards. Allow your front door to air dry before you move onto the next step.

TSP is a strong cleaning solution. As with the paint stripper, make sure that you are protected by wearing full safety gear at all times. You can find further instructions for using TSP safely in our painting kitchen cupboards guide.


Prime your door before painting with a cloth


Step 6. Apply an Appropriate Primer

Properly priming your door is incredibly important if you want your front door to last a long time. Choosing a high-quality primer will protect your door and it will form a hardwearing barrier.

You can buy a decent wood primer at any local D.I.Y. store. Make sure that you choose a primer that is suitable for external use. To apply the primer, you will need to use a paint roller for the main sections. In the panels and corners, an angular sash brush will allow you to reach the tight corners.

Two coats of primer should give you a great result. If you sand the door in between each coat of primer, your surface will be very smooth. This will allow you to apply the top coats with ease. As always, it’s important that you leave enough time for the primer to dry before you continue painting.


Door With Primer


Step 7. Apply Your Top Coats

Once your primer has completely dried, you can finally start to apply your top coats. If you are unsure about what colour to paint your door, scroll down and read the ‘Choosing your front door paint colour’ section.

You should apply your paint in the same way that you applied your primer. Make sure that you don’t apply too much paint at once, otherwise, your paint will start to run. You should take a clean angular sash brush and a clean paint roller for the top coats.

If you are worried about your paint looking streaky, you should apply a couple of coats of paint. This will give you a solid, even colour across your front door.


Roller Brush


How to Paint a Front Door Made of Metal

Perhaps surprisingly, there isn’t much difference between how you need to treat and paint wood and metal doors. The preparation, priming, and painting steps are all largely the same.

However, one important aspect of treating a metal front door is filling and smoothing dents and scratches. First of all, sand the damaged part of the surface using a rough sandpaper. Anything around 60 grit will work well.

Use an appropriate filler to repair the damage. Smooth the filler over with a putty knife. Once the filler has dried, you will need to sand the area again. Leave it to dry fully before attempting to paint or sand the door again.

You should also carefully consider what type of paint you use on a metal front door. A high-quality acrylic paint is one of the best options around for this particular D.I.Y. project. It tends to be longer lasting than oil paint. If the door was already painted with an oil based paint, make sure you add a primer before using an acrylic paint.


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How to paint a front door


How to Paint a Front Door Panel

Many front doors have panels. They can be a bit of a pain to paint around. However, there are a few handy tips and tricks that you can use to work on the panels.

First of all, you should paint the panels first. An angular sash brush will allow you to apply the paint the tight corners of the panels. Be careful not to load your brush with too much paint, otherwise, you are likely to see drips forming on your door. Lightly coat the panels at first. You can always go over it with another coat later on.

Always go from top to bottom when you are painting panels. Focus on the corners and perimeters first. Then you can start to fill in the flat parts of the panels with your brush.


Choose a colour for your front door


Choosing Your Front Door Paint Colour

Front doors often attract bright and bold colours. Creating a bright front door is an easy way to inject some colour into your home, without risking it on your interior walls.

So, what colour should you paint your front door? Studies have shown that green is seen as one of the most inviting and welcoming colours, and therefore it is a perfect shade for your front door. Yellow is also a great choice, as homes with a yellow front door sell more quickly.

Essentially, a bright front door can give your home a significant boost. So don’t be afraid to go for a bold colour choice with your front door.


Ready to begin your painting project? Easily get your painting and decorating started with a top exterior painter!



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