How to Paint a Front Door

If you are planning on selling your home in the future or you just want to improve your curb appeal, the best first step is to repaint your front door. Your door is the first thing that most visitors will see, so it is important that it is in good repair. If your current door has seen better days, then you may choose to apply a fresh coat of paint. If you are interested in doing this project yourself, then consider the tips and advice discussed below.

General Steps for Painting a Front Door

If you have a standard wood door, then follow the guidelines below, which will be broken down into several steps: prep, sanding, priming, and then painting.

What You’ll Need to Paint Your Front Door:

  • Paint
  • Fine-grit or medium-grit sandpaper
  • Scraping tool
  • Painter’s tape
  • Flat paint brush
  • Angled paint brush
  • Mini paint roller

Prepping Your Door for a Coat of Paint

1. The first step is to prep your door, so you will have a clean painting surface. Begin by removing all accents and the parts of the door that you don’t want to paint, including the doorknob, handles, door knocker, etc.

2. In order to have a clean and smooth painting surface, you need to wipe both sides of the door. Use a cloth and a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar or gentle dish soap. Remove all of the dirt, dust, and debris that collects on all doors over time.

3. If your door is peeling and flaking, you will want to take a scraper and get all of that loose debris off of the door. Don’t scrap too hard, or you could damage the surface. You will likely see the loosest paint around the door jamb. 

Sand and Tape

4. Next, you will want to sand down the entire door to create a smooth painting surface. The tools you use when sanding will depend on your door. If the door was previously painted with water-based paint, then use fine-grit sandpaper. If it is oil-based paint, then medium-grit sandpaper is best.

5. If there is any hardware on the door that you don’t want to remove for one reason or another, then make sure to cover those areas with painter’s tape so you don’t drip paint where you don’t want it.

6. Prepare your paint brushes and rollers. The painting tools you use will depend on the size of the door. Typically, you can use a flat paint brush or a mini roller for the majority of the door’s surface and then an angled brush around the hardware and in the nooks and crannies. 

Prime and Paint

7. Before you get the paint, start with a coat of primer. The process of priming is important because it will hide the old coat of paint and provide a brand new surface for your new paint. Plus, primer helps your paint to stick without issue. 

Prime both sides of the door if necessary. Make sure that your coat of primer is flat and even, or it will cause problems when you add your beautiful paint.

8. Let your coat of primer dry on the door for 24 hours.

9. Finally, you are ready to paint. Most experts recommend adding two coats of paint to ensure that your colors are striking and vivid. Wait 24 hours between each coat. Again, use your mini rollers and flat brush to make the wide strokes and then an angled brush for the finer details. 

10. After the second coat of paint is applied, try to wait 24 hours before interacting with the door too much. At that point, you can remove the painter’s tape and reattach the hardware.

Considerations for Different Types of Doors

While the steps above are generally the same regardless of the material of your door, there are some differences for steel and fiberglass doors.

Differences for Steel Doors

For steel doors, consider 150-grit sandpaper for the sanding stage. An acrylic paint is also best as it will stick better and be more resistant to fading from sunlight.

Differences for Fiberglass Doors

Like steel doors, fiberglass will need a stronger sandpaper. Go with 220-grit sandpaper. Before you paint, clean the door thoroughly with acetone. After that dries, wipe it with a mild detergent and then rinse. Check the label of your paint to ensure it is okay for use with fiberglass. 

Alternatives to Painting the Door

Although relatively straightforward, the project of painting a door can be a bit time-consuming. With that in mind, if you are not up to the task, you do have some options:

Hire a Professional Painter

If you love your current door, but it needs a fresh coat of paint, then consider hiring a professional painter. A good painter will have all of the necessary tools and knowledge to make the job quick and easy. On average, the cost of this project will be $125-$225.

Buy a New Door

If you don’t have the time to wait for an estimate or for the painter to come to your home and complete the project, then you might want to consider simply buying a new door. The cost will depend on if you just want to buy the door or also want to have it professionally installed. The door itself can cost between $125 to $1000, depending on the material. If you want it installed, then it will likely be an additional $1000 or more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to questions that homeowners often ask about painting front doors.

Q. When is the best time to paint my door?

A. Painting projects are typically best during the spring or fall, when there are reasonable temperatures that allow the paint to dry more easily. Choose a weekend, so you have enough time for the two required coats.

Q. What color should I choose for my door?

A. When choosing the color of a door, you can either go with a shade that will blend in with the rest of your home or choose a unique color that will bring character to your residence. If you are unsure of what color to choose, then follow the trends. Some of the most popular colors for front doors are brown, black, slate blue, and olive green. Experts even say that these colors may even fetch a higher price if you decide to sell your home.

Of course, different colors can have different meanings. For instance, the color red is supposed to mean that you are hospitable. Black usually signifies elegance. Orange gives off the vibe that yours is a fun house. Choose a color that fits your home and your personality.

Q. How much paint will I need for this project?

A. In most cases, a standard gallon of paint will be more than enough to apply the two coats of paint necessary to complete the project. Since doors can be different sizes, take a moment to read the side of the paint can to review the coverage rate recommendations to ensure that you have enough for a larger door.


In the end, while the painting project for your front door may take a few hours, it is a relatively easy and straightforward process. Consider the tips discussed above, and you will have a beautiful freshly-painted entrance to your home.

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