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How To Paint A Door

Needing to revamp your interior and exterior doors for Summer? Create a welcoming entrance to any room with our specialist tools, techniques and trade door paint.Here is The Paint Shed’s guide to achieving the perfect finish. 

Prepping your surface

To do a truly professional job with the very best finish, remove the door before painting it. Unscrew the hinges on the door – unscrewing the hinges from the door pillars first. Removing the hinges makes it much easier to paint the door and also ensures that paint won’t get on the hinges and spoiling the appearance. Having control over where you paint the door also ensures that you can manage the lighting and drying conditions. Two factors which can significantly impact the finished look. 

The front door will be heavy once the hinges are no longer holding it in place, so some wooden wedges placed at ground level may be required during this process. You’ll probably need help to lift it onto some sawhorses or whatever you are using as a painting platform. For interior doors, if you can’t or do not wish to remove the door from its hinges. You can simply place a plastic sheet or sheet of paper under the door to catch any paint drops and prevent a messy clean up. 

For internal and external doors it is important that all the other hardware is removed, including the door knocker, peephole, letter box etc. Removing the doorknob usually involves taking out four screws - two that hold in the latch and the two that retain the doorknob. Store any locks, knobs or features in a safe, easily accessible place. They can be reattached once your paint has dried. 

Cleaning the area  

Start by cleaning the door, any household cleaner will do. Pay attention to removing any grease, particularly around doorknobs where it is most likely to accumulate. Once the door is fully clean,  start on removing any old paint from your surface, you can use a paint stripper or remover both will help create a seamless base for your new paint.

Sanding your door

 Next, sand the door carefully, removing any old flaking paint, bubbles, old paint drips etc. Use a course abrasive followed by a finer paper such as 180-grit should be used and close attention paid to the crevices in the individual door panels. To a large extent, the final finish will depend on how carefully the door is prepared. You want the door to feel as smooth as possible before painting, but if it is too polished the paint will not stick as well. Good paint adhesion is  reliant on a small amount of grip, so try not to over prepare your surface. Once this is done fill any dents with a sandable filler,overfill to compensate for any shrinkage. Resand these areas and then use an old paintbrush or a tack rag to remove any dust from the sanding process.

Preparing your materials

Before priming and painting we recommend that you prepare all of your materials in advance. This way you will be sure you have what you need and you know what tools to use in what order. If what you are painting is flat door without panelling or molding, a small roller or 4 inch paint brush should suffice. For painting panelled doors a smaller 2 inch brush is required for more intricate areas. Source a sponge anything you can use to dampen the door prior to painting, this will slow down the rate in which the paint dries, giving you more time to perfect your strokes and cover any brush marks. Lastly your primer can be just as important as your paint, remember to pick one that is compatible with your paint, sands well and levels out evenly.

Priming your door

Prime all six sides of the door with appropriate primer, including the inside, outside, left and right edges as well as the top and bottom. Remember, bare wood surfaces that are not primed will absorb moisture. Now visually inspect the door looking for surface cracks and repair with a caulk gun and a putty knife. It’s important that you use ‘decorators caulk’ and not silicone for this, as most paint does not adhere to silicone. Re-prime the spot after the caulk has dried, this will encourage an ultra-smooth paint job.  Follow by lightly sanding.

Painting your door


For best results, a door needs to be painted quickly, efficiently and in the right order. It can be a race against time but if your door is properly prepped and dampened, you will be able to paint with confidence and ease. Start by using an angled sash brush, paint over the primer first and then into the corners of the raised panels. Starting with the top panels, work down to the lowest panels. Brush left and right, followed by up and down to spread the paint evenly. Use paint sparingly and don’t let the paint puddle. A 4-inch roller can be used to apply the paint to the raised panels, rolling with the grain of the wood. 

For a professional finish, the door will need several coats of paint. Many thin coats are better than one thick coat of paint. It’ll normally ‘cure’ faster and look better too. Just remember to let every coat dry properly before the next coat is applied – the darker the colour the more coats that will be required.


At The Paint Shed, we offer selection of paint for exterior wood  and tools and accessories at low trade prices.

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