Paint your front door like a pro with these expert tips

A front door speaks volumes for any home. It’s the place where you invite people into your private residence, and it’s probably the one thing people stare at the longest while they wait for you to come to the door. With this in mind, learning how to paint a front door the right way is very important.

Below we’ll tell you everything you need to get started, including the tools you’ll need, picking the right paint, and step-by-step instructions on how to paint a front door.

how to paint a front door

How to Paint a Front Door: Picking the Right Time to Paint

Before we dive into how to paint a front door, you’ll first need to pick the best time to paint your door. Since a front door connects to the exterior and interior of a home, one side is always being bombarded with outside elements such as debris, dirt, water, snow, ice, and hot and cold temperatures.

It’s essential to know the local weather conditions for at least the day before and after you paint. That’s because factors such as moisture and temperature can hamper your efforts, if not ruin them.

Warm sunny days between 55 and 94 degrees Fahrenheit are generally good days to paint. And if you can sandwich your paint day between two days with similar conditions, you’ve got an excellent painting window!

spraying a front door

How to Paint a Front Door: The Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Here’s a list of all the tools and materials you’ll need for this project.

Tools

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • 2 Saw Horses
  • Hammer
  • Dust mask
  • Goggles
  • 2-2½-inch sash paintbrush or microfiber paint roller

Materials

  • Tack cloth
  • Tarp (or temporary plastic door)
  • Duct Tape (if using a tarp)
  • Caulk
  • Mineral spirits
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sandpaper (120, 220, and 320-grit)
  • Exterior primer
  • Exterior paint

How to Paint a Front Door: The Best Type of Paint for Your Front Door

Probably the most crucial element in learning how to paint a front door is choosing the right paint. Latex-based and acrylic resin with a semi-gloss finish is the most common paint used for front doors. However, many folks also prefer oil-based paints. Below we’ll explain the differences along with the pros and cons of each type.

Latex Paints

Water-based latex paints are by far the most flexible of the three, and they can fill in more significant imperfections on the surface of a door and are crack and chip-resistant. Semi-gloss finishes are trendy because they are easier to clean and deliver a remarkable contrast with the other colors on your home’s facade.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is chemical-based which allows the paint to expand and contract in reaction to outdoor temperature and weather conditions, which makes it an excellent choice for exteriors.

Oil-based Paints

Oil-based paints create longer-lasting, more complex coatings compared to latex and acrylic. However, they require a bit more skill to apply as they often require paint thinner. Plus, they are more challenging to clean, requiring a particular solvent.

How to Paint a Front Door: Selecting a Color

Choosing the right color can be tricky. However, if you wish to keep the same color, bringing a few paint chips from your door to your local paint or hardware store is the best way to go.

But, if you’re looking for something different, whether it’s to liven up or tone down your home’s appearance, the right color will depend on your taste.

If you want natural tones, greens and blues work well. White can also stand out beautifully with the right frame and other accents. Red can be very striking and perhaps the color that draws the most attention.

And if you want to get fancy, you can even go for multi-tones by painting sections of your door such as your stiles, panels, rails, and mullions in different colors.

This article can inspire some excellent ideas if you’re still trying to decide.

How to Paint a Front Door: Painting Your Front Door Step-by-Step

While you can paint your front door while it’s still on the hinges, we recommend painting the door off its hinges in a well-ventilated location. This method has a few advantages, such as controlling the environment.

Spaces such as a garage can shield the door from debris, wind, dirt, and direct sunlight while giving each coat a chance to dry evenly. And if you’re painting in bad weather such as snow and rain, this is the only way to go.

Step 1: Remove and Restore

  • You first want to start by removing all the hardware from your door. Take your flathead screwdriver or a chisel and wedge it between the hinges and the door’s top pins.
  • Next, lightly tap the handle with a hammer until you’ve loosened the pins. Pull the pins out, and you’ll need a helper to carry the door to your desired location.
  • Place your door on a pair of sawhorses, then use your Phillips head screwdriver to remove the rest of the hardware, such as the doorknob.
  • After removing the door, you’ll want to replace it with either a tarp or a temporary plastic door. The temporary doors are a great choice since many come with a zipper.
  • Back to your door, you’ll need to repair any cracks or holes using small amounts of caulk. Work the caulk into the cracks with a putty knife, then allow it to dry. Once dry, sand the spot down until it’s even with the door’s surface.
  • For old wooden doors, you’ll have to sand them before priming. To ensure a smooth surface, scrape any peeling paint and sand the surface until you’ve got a consistent, smooth texture on the entire door.
  • As for your sandpaper, start with 120-grit, then switch to 220-grit. If the door stills feel a bit rough, change to your 320-grit until you’ve got it nice and smooth. Don’t forget to wear goggles and a dust mask.
  • Remove all dust before you prime. Vacuum away any extra dust, then wipe your door using a tack cloth dampened with mineral spirits to clean your door properly.

Step 2: Apply Primer

There’s not much to applying primer, and you can use a paintbrush or roller. Just cover the front and all edges along the side of the door. The primer will prevent your door from absorbing moisture while promoting a smooth texture.

Once your primer dries, flip your door over and prime the back; if your primer goes on chunky or drips, lightly sand down the surface to smooth things out.

Step 3: Painting Your Front Door

After your primer dries completely, start stringing your paint. Then begin painting the door from top to bottom using a broad brush to catch the crevices or corners.

You can also use a small roller for the flat panels. Use long strokes with your brush and remove any visible lines on the door using a dry cloth.

The same as with your primer, allow enough time for each side of your door to dry before flipping it to work on the other side.

We recommend at least two coats, but you can use three or more if you wish to improve the color saturation.

The recommended order to paint the door sections goes as follows:

  • Panels
  • Center Stile
  • Rails
  • Outer Stiles

Step 4: Drying and Reattaching the Door

Once your door dries completely, begin the reinstallation process. You’ll know if your door is dry when the paint no longer feels tacky when you touch it. Replace all your hardware and reattach your front door, aligning the hinges while sliding in the hinge pins until they are fully secured.

Charming colorful front door entrance

How to Paint a Front Door: Conclusion

We’ve shown you how to paint a front door in this guide. And as you can see, painting a front door is pretty straightforward, but the most important thing is not to rush the drying process. Once you’re done, you’ll have a beautiful newly painted front door you can be proud of for years to come.