How To Paint A Six Panel Door



Doors are one of the most difficult surfaces to paint.  They tend to show imperfections, scratches, brush marks and other blemishes.  They take a lot of abuse and can easily become damaged to the point where they need to be repainted.  Repainting a door may seem like a tough task, but if you are armed with the right knowledge it can become a very easy and fun project. 


Sometimes the only way you can tell the different between a door that a home owner painted and a door a professional painted was by the materials they use.  Home owners tend to use less expensive brushes and rollers (typically whatever they can find out in the garage).  Often times, your garage doesn't have the correct roller or brush for the job.  


Painting doors requires a 3/16" nap roller cover or a mohair roller.  The short nap of the roller means a smoother finish.  If you use a 3/8" nap roller like you would on your walls you may end up with a bit of texture (stipple) on the door.  


Advice On Painting Doors


If your door is in rough shape, you are changing colors or you are planning on using latex paint over an oil based paint, I recommend priming the door first.  Zinsser 1-2-3 primer is a great universal primer that can be used on interior or exterior doors.


If the door is a brand new metal door with a factory primer, I still recommend priming the door.  Factory primed doors are lightly misted with primer.  This could cause poor adhesion when you paint your door. 


It is much easier to paint the door if it is laying flat.  If possible, remove the door and place it on a set of sawhorses.  This way you do not have to worry about accidentally painting your floor, trim work or spilling paint in the house.


Use at least a satin finish paint.  Any less sheen than a satin will cause your door to mark up easily and will be harder to wash.  Choose a paint that is advertised as a latex enamel.  Enamel paints dry harder than regular wall paints.  This will create a scratch resistant finish which is perfect for doors.


Preparation For Painting A Door


If you have an loose or peeling paint, use a putty knife or scraper to remove the paint.  Scuff sand the door to smooth out the finish with 150-220 grit sandpaper.  Then clean the door with TSP or another household cleaner and let dry.


Materials Needed


Nylon polyester brush (if using latex paint), mohair or 3/16" nap roller, painters tape, drop cloth, hinge covers


Steps For Painting A Door


  1. Start by painting the panels.  Start on the outside edges, as if you were painting the frame part of a picture first, then paint the flat section of the panels.  Less is more when painting doors.  Do not over apply, as the paint can run and get into the grooves, which you may not notice until it dries.  You can either use a brush to paint the whole door or you can brush the frame of each panel and roll all of the flat surfaces.
  2. Continue painting each panel then paint the sides, top and bottom of the door.  Everything besides the panels is flat so you can use a roller to apply a smooth finish coat of paint.  Feel free to use a small brush for detail work or around any glass. 

You may want to apply a second coat of paint depending on how well the first coat covered.  Wait at least 4 hours for your latex paint to dry before re coating it and apply a second coat if desired.  That is all there is to it!  Anyone can paint a door with a little knowledge and time.

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