10 Steps to Paint a Door (Get Pro Results)

10 Steps to Paint a Door (Get Pro Results)

Painting a door is not as minor as most would like to think it is. A door is the first thing you see before entering or leaving a room, so it is the first and last thing about a room or building that makes an impression.

Whether you want to paint a door for the first time, add a fresh coat of paint, or repaint the entire thing, it is vital to consider it. What color do you prefer? How do you go about it? This simple DIY project can give your room a unique look.

This kind of project comes with little to no risk; you can always repaint or unpaint a door. So if you are considering painting your door, you are on the right track.

This post will provide X steps for painting a door to get pro results. Take note of some pro tips that would help you relish the remarkable results that follow.

10 Steps to Paint a Door
Source: Pinterest 

Before You Start

You will likely make many mistakes in painting a door without the proper knowledge. It may appear to be a simple project to embark on, and with that in mind, the necessary precautions and tips are not considered when painting a door. This will lead to undesirable results.

The tools and materials you choose for this project significantly affect how well the fresh paint job on your door turns out.

The door type and placement determine what material you get and how you apply it. Many people make mistakes at this stage, which have adverse effects at the end of the day.

The materials and tools you need include paint, paint brushes/rollers, protective gear, saw horses, primer, utility knife, screwdriver, primer, sandpaper or sander, painter’s tape, tack cloth, and wood filler.

● Paint (Of Course!)


Doors get touched more than any other surface or item in a building. The paint must be tough enough to withstand frequent touch for an extended period before being replaced. It must also be easy to clean, so maintaining its beauty doesn’t take much.

Different paints are required for painting inner and exterior doors. We typically use oil-based paint on exterior doors, such as your front door, and acrylic or latex-based paint on interior doors. Enamel paints are excellent for achieving a smooth finish.

When painting interior doors, another factor to consider is the finish. Instead of flat or eggshell surfaces, satin, gloss, and semi-gloss coatings are ideal choices due to their stain resistance and ease of cleaning.

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Semi-gloss and gloss coatings are suitable for moisture-prone regions (such as the bathroom).

Finally, the paint color you choose may make or break the impact the painted door should have on the room. This is all up to you, so choose a color that appeals to you and gives your space the character you desire.

● Brush, Roller, or Sprayer

Brush, Roller, or Sprayer

After purchasing pricey paint, people often purchase inferior brushes and rollers. While a substandard store brush or roller may look like a good option while trying to save cost, it will never replace the real thing. If you want professional results, you should use professional tools.

If your door has a flat or flush side, use a roller to prevent brush marks and achieve a smooth finish. We recommend foam rollers that have round edges. Then, using a broad brush, remove the foamy texture left by the rollers.

A brush is the star of the show for a panel door. Mini-rollers, on the other hand, are pretty helpful for the larger areas of the panels.

Choose a brush with densely packed and angled bristles to paint edges and efficiently control movement. We recommend a 2-inch angled brush with natural bristles for oil-based paints and a nylon/polyester brush for latex-based paints.

Spray painting is a quick and effective way to get the job done. It also reduces the possibility of making a sloppy mess. However, you’d need to know how to use the sprayer correctly, such as how to apply the desired layers while avoiding overspray in some areas.

● Protective Gear

You can use a plastic drop cloth or canvas to protect the area surrounding the work area. This is important because paint can end up in unexpected places, such as furniture, switches, and floors. It would be best to use an apron to protect your clothing and other safety equipment as necessary.

● Saw Horses

Before painting, you should get sawhorses to remove your door from its hinges. Although painting your door while it is attached will save you the stress of flipping it over after painting one side, this method can result in drops and runs if not done correctly.

● Primer

Nowadays, you can get a 2-in-1 paint and primer, which is more convenient than painting it individually or on bare wood.

Use a latex- or oil-based primer to seal the porous surface. For already painted wood, an oil-based primer is best for smoothing the chippings and indentations.

Do you need to prime your door? Yes, if it’s an unprimed new door and you plan to apply latex paint on an oil-based door. No, if the door is new and pre-primed, and the new and old paint is latex-based.

You can check the type of paint on your door by testing a tiny area with a cloth and rubbing alcohol. If the paint stains the fabric when you touch it against the door, it is latex-based; otherwise, it is oil-based.

10 Steps to Paint a Door

Now that you have the right tools and materials to complete the job, it is time to get to work. Follow these step-by-step instructions to get a professional-looking paint job.

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Step 1: Unhinge the Door

Most people choose to paint their doors while they are still hinged rather than remove and rehang them.

While this is still feasible and can give good results, we recommend that you unhinge the door. Unhinging a door enables simpler handling and allows the paint to dry evenly without running on the door.

If you remove your old door entirely from its hinges before starting, use the utility knife to scrape paint off the screw head slots so the screwdriver can fit in.

Using the utility knife, define the edges of the hinge to prevent it from ripping off the wood when you remove it from the door. Position it on the sawhorse. Watch this video to see how: YouTube

Step 2: Remove All Hardware from the Door

Remove All Hardware from the Door
Source: iStock

You can remove keyholes, door handles, knobs, and coat hangers, but built-in ones, such as peepholes, can be protected with painter’s tape.

Pro Tip: To ensure you remember what goes where when you refix the hardware, you can make videos of yourself taking them out or labeling them.

Step 3: Clean and Fill (As Needed)

Clean the door with any household cleaner, making sure to get rid of any grease, dirt, or markings from the surface to the hardware. Then, using a moist towel, wipe away any leftover soap suds.

Examine your door for dents or holes and apply a sandable wood filler to level the surface. You want the door surface to be smooth and flat.

Step 4: Sand the Door

Sand the Door
Source: iStock

 To save time, do not apply new paint directly to old paint. The end does not justify the means with this one! Sanding is the level that determines whether your door looks professional or not. It ensures that the door’s surface is prepared to take the paint.

Use a 120-grit sanding sponge to remove the first layer of old paint, then follow it with a 320-grit sanding sponge for a smoother surface.

Remember that you’re not trying to remove the existing paint, so keep your hand light as you work the sander across the surface. You also are not trying to level out the door surface, so keep touching it until you feel a smooth surface.

New, unpainted doors should not require thorough sanding. A few swipes will suffice to prepare the surface for painting. The square edges of a sanding block are ideal for sanding crevices, while a random orbit sander works well on the flat parts of the door.

Pro Tip: Follow the direction of the grains on the wood when sanding.

 Safety Tip: Put on goggles, respirators and other protective clothing during sanding to protect yourself from stray particles and lead dust (if the doors were painted before 1978)

Step 5: Clean the Door

Remove the sanding dust from the door’s surface with a tack or damp microfibre cloth. This prevents the paint from adhering to sanding dust and gives the door a rough finish. Check the surface with your finger to ensure it’s smooth.

Step 6: Apply Primer to the Door

Primer ensures that whatever previous paint type was used will not interfere with your future work by bleeding through the new paint.

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Of course, you can skip this step, but you won’t get the professional look you want. We recommend oil-based primers to secure an imperfection on the door’s surface.

Thin your primer with Penetrol to help it dry smoothly on the door. Apply the mixture with a two-and-a-half-inch brush. Allow the primer to dry before proceeding to the next step.

Step 7: Sand Again

Yes! You need to lightly sand the primer to remove any imperfections that may have come up. Afterwards, you can use a 180-grit sander and wipe down the surface with a tack cloth.

Step 8: Time to Paint

Time to Paint
Source: iStock

 First, use a synthetic brush to stir the paint to ensure consistency in colour and texture. You can paint your door with just a brush or a roller, but we recommend using both, especially if it’s a panel door.

You should follow a specific sequence when painting to achieve a professional result.

  1. Starting at the edges (even if it’s a paneled door, start at the edge of each panel), paint in small sections with a small brush or mini-roller. You want to avoid a dripping or streaked finish. Leave it to dry.
  2. Paint the panels with a small one-and-half-inch brush for the moulding and then use a 4-inch roller for the flattened middle in each panel. Use the brush to feather the edges for a soft look.
  3. Then, using the 4-inch roller in one direction, paint the door’s stiles and rails, beginning with the vertical ones and working your way down.

However, it is only the first coat and must dry before proceeding.

Pro Tip: Avoid running your brush or roller back and forth on the door surface. Instead, follow the direction of the wood grain.

Step 9: Sand and Second Coat

When the paint is dry, quickly and lightly sand the surface as the manufacturer directs, remove debris with a tack cloth, and apply a second coat of paint on one side.

Flip and repeat on the other side. If the opposite side is completely flat, you may use the roller from top to bottom.

Step 10: Reattach Hardware and Reinstall Door

Reattach all hardware to its original locations and reinstall the door in its frame once the paint has dried.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Should I Clean My Door Hardware Before Reattaching It?

You can use a crock pot and dish soap to “boil” them or wipe them down with a paint strip.

How Much Paint Would I Need to Cover An Interior Door?

A standard-sized door is around 20 square feet, and a gallon of paint will typically cover an area of 350 square feet. You’d cover 40 square feet of area with two coats of paint. This means one-eighth of a gallon of paint will cover the door.

How Long Should I Wait Before Reattaching the Hardware to the Door?

Check the manufacturer’s label to determine how long the paint takes to dry.

Final Words

You can now achieve a professional result that transforms your room or building by following this step-by-step guide on painting a door. Painting a door is only challenging when you do not follow the proper instructions and the materials are subpar.

This method may not apply to your door type, but note the pro tips to help you improve. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.

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Hello, my name is April and I'm the creator of blacksburgbelle.com. I'm passionate about colors and painting, and my website is dedicated to exploring the world of paint and color.

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