How to Paint a Front Door for Beginners

Rose Morrison

Apr 7, 2023

two arched wooden doors one left bare and one gorgeous black, painted by someone who learned how to paint a front door

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Your front door is the first thing your guests, neighbors and passersby notice when they see your home. It’s what welcomes people in or turns them away. A peeling, faded front door doesn’t accurately represent you and what your house has to offer.

If your door has seen better days or you hate the color, it’s time for a facelift. Save yourself the cost of labor by tackling this project on your own. Learning how to paint a front door is beginner-friendly for inexperienced DIYers. Follow this guide to transform your home’s entrance and enhance your curb appeal.   

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Before removing your front door, ensure you’ve gathered all the necessary supplies. This project is relatively quick, but you’ll save time and hassle by properly preparing. 

  • A quart of paint
  • A quart of primer
  • Paintbrush 
  • Foam or short nap roller
  • Stir stick
  • Painters tape
  • Dropcloth
  • Paint tray
  • Sanding block
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Cleaning rag

Necessary Prep 

Your prep stage will largely depend on how you choose to proceed with the project. You’ll need to inspect your door for any damage and decide whether to take the door off its hinges to paint it. 

Give your front entry a thorough once-over to determine if you have any damage. Your coat of paint will only look as good as the door underneath. Take the time to smooth over rough patches by sanding and filling in any holes.  

You also need to decide how you’ll paint. Leaving it on the hinges saves prep time, but you may get drip marks. Pulling the door down will result in a more even coat of paint, but you’ll need help removing and moving the door. You’ll also need sawhorses to rest it on while you work. 

No matter your chosen method, lightly sand the door so the paint can adhere to the surface. Then go over the whole thing with a wet rag to remove dust and dirt. 

How to Paint a Front Door

These six steps will take you from prep to finished project without much hassle. 

  1. Remove Hardware

Next, remove all the hardware from your door, including the doorknob and knocker, using your screwdrivers and a little brute force. Take off the kickplate if you intend to paint the door while still installed. If you decide to remove the door, now is the time to take it off the hinges, unscrew them and place the door on your sawhorses. 

  1. Use Painters Tape

You’re almost ready to start painting. Tape off any hardware you choose not to remove. You’ll also want to apply some around any glass insets. You can go around the edges with a razor blade to ensure a tight fit and keep paint out. 

  1. Apply a Coat of Primer

After you’ve completed all your prep work, removed the hardware and taped off the areas you don’t want to paint, you can move on to priming. You can apply primer with a brush or roller. Typically, you’d use the same method you intend to apply color with. 

  1. Sand Rough Spots

Once you’ve allowed the primer to dry, you can look it over for rough spots or drip marks. This step is optional but can give you a nicer finish on the final product. Any bumps and ridges will show through your color at the end. After sanding, go over the door again with a cloth to remove the dust and avoid uneven texture or bubbles in your paint.

  1. Apply Color

You’ve reached the fun part. Now you’ll finally get to see how your chosen hue looks in person. You should use a paintbrush to get into the small grooves in decorative areas of your front door. Afterward, you can continue using a brush or switch to a short nap or foam roller to finish the larger swaths. 

With a primer, you may only need one coat for most colors. However, let the door dry and reassess before making your final decision. You should always go with multiple thin coats over one thick, uneven layer. 

  1. Remove Tape and Reinstall Hardware

After the paint is dry to the touch, you can carefully reinstall your front door and hardware. Be gentle when using it for the next few days since paint can take a while to cure completely.  

Common Questions When Painting a Front Door

Still have questions? Check answers to people’s most common questions when learning how to paint a front door.

What Type of Paint Do I Need?

Most doors do best with latex-based exterior paint. This formulation will hold up to outdoor wear and tear. If you live in an area with lots of rain or snow, you should also look for paint with mold or mildew-resistant properties. 

The best finish for painting your front door is semi-gloss. Glossier choices wipe down more easily and wear more evenly. However, shinier coats also highlight imperfections. A semi-gloss finish offers the best of both worlds. 

Is a Primer Necessary?

Primer isn’t always necessary. Many exterior paints now come with built-in primer, which is enough in most situations. However, a separate primer is the best choice if you’re painting fresh wood or trying to cover a dark color with a light one.

Should I Use a Brush or a Roller?

The choice is entirely up to your preferences. Some people love seeing brush strokes, while others prefer a completely smooth surface.  

Brushes control the amount of paint more easily, leading to more even coats, but you will end up with brushstrokes. Rollers move faster and leave a smooth finish but can lay color too thick if you aren’t careful. 

A brush is best to get into the crevices of your decorative elements, but for the main part of the door, you can use either tool successfully.

When Is the Best Time to Paint a Front Door?

Paint will dry and cure faster when the air is warm but not humid. Too much moisture in the air or extreme temperatures can cause paint to bubble and not dry properly. 

Fall is an ideal time to work on this project since temperatures are starting to cool from the heat of the summer, and it’s drier than spring. You could also wait until late spring once the rain lets up. 

A Simple Way to Boost Curb Appeal

With this guide, you’re well on your way to a gorgeous front door. So, what are you waiting for? Pick your favorite color, grab your supplies and get going. You won’t regret learning how to paint a front door and tackling this beginner-friendly DIY.

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