How to Paint a Front Door

Peter Chambers

Feb 14, 2023


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Curb appeal matters. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), high curb appeal can increase home sales by 7% more than those with dilapidated exteriors. 

However, regardless of whether you plan to list, maintaining the exterior and landscaping shows your take pride in your property. 

Every homeowner knows the importance of upkeep — from significant modifications to the slightest touch-ups. When it comes to your front door, chipped paint and scuffs can look unpleasant over time.

Painting your door is the perfect DIY weekend project to spruce up your home’s appearance. This guide will help break down the essential steps if you’ve never painted a door before.

Pick a Color

The first step to painting a front door is to select a color. While many people love this initial stage, others might find it stressful to find the perfect shade. 

Perhaps the easiest way to begin is by visiting your local hardware store and collecting different color swatches. Hold them up to your front door and lay them against your house’s siding to see if the colors match or clash.

You can also bring home a paint sample to try or download a color-matching app from a familiar paint brand. These apps allow you to snap a photo of your home’s exterior and apply different colors to see how they’d look.

For the best results, take a photo in plenty of natural light and hold your camera steady. The app will give specific instructions on uploading the best picture. 

You might also find inspiration from your home’s location, architecture and interior design. For example, blues and sea greens are excellent choices if you live in a coastal community. Likewise, brighter interiors might call for a pop of color, while neutral tones pair nicely with saturated exterior hues.

If you’re unsure, a Zillow survey found that black front doors sell for $6,271 more than the listing price, making it the most popular paint color choice.

Choose Your Paint

Although painting your front door is one of the more straightforward DIY projects, it’s something you’ll only want to do once. That’s why choosing the right exterior paint is critical to withstand all types of weather.

Many people know the differences between paint sheens — matte, satin, semi-gloss and glossy — and how each can change the look of their walls. However, exterior paint performance relies on the type of sheen you use.

For example, semi-gloss and glossy sheens contain more resin, delivering greater durability for high-impact and wetter conditions, while flatter sheens tend to be less resilient.

Storm doors can add a layer of protection to your freshly-painted front door. Otherwise, check to make sure you purchase specially-made exterior paint and primer. 

Another thing to note is whether you apply latex or oil-based paint and match the primer to your selection. You never want to paint over two different kinds of paint products.

Prep the Door

Prep work might be the most time-consuming part of painting a front door. Decide whether to take it off its hinges or leave it hanging. A storm door can secure your home and prevent bugs and debris — otherwise, you’ll want to hang a tarp over the front entryway.  

Protect your floors with a plastic protector or old bedsheet, and remove the remaining hardware. If you’ve chosen a different color from your door’s current shade, you’ll need to prime it with an exterior-strength primer. 

First, use a sanding block or sander power tool to gently even out the surface and remove imperfections. Once done, use a damp rag to wipe away the dust. Then, apply one or two coats of primer to the door.

Methods for Painting a Door

After completing the prep work, you’ll be ready to start painting. Pour a little bit of paint into a paint tray and cover the door in your selected color.

You can use a roller or hand brush to apply the paint in even strokes. A word of advice — foam rollers might be preferable over nap rollers to avoid fuzzies getting stuck in the wet paint. Otherwise, a regular paint brush will provide a hand-painted look, or you can combine both techniques.

Allow the paint to dry completely before applying a second coat. When the newly painted door meets your expectations, you can reattach the hardware and hang it back in place.

A Fresh Coat of Paint Makes a Difference

A brand new color for your front door can change the exterior entirely — but even a clean coat of the same color makes a significant difference. Carve out a weekend to maintain your front door with a paint job. It’s one project homeowners can take pride in doing themselves.

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