How to paint a door: expert tips for a professional finish

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Finishing a room is all about the details, and learning how to paint a door will ensure a smooth, up-to-date backdrop in any space.

Unlike painting a wall, a door is rarely a plain, flat surface: there are door cabinets and paneling to negotiate. Then there is also the paint finish.

“Window frames, doors and trim are most often painted with a higher sheen because the glossiest paints are the most durable,” says Ed Edrosa, project manager at BEHR. “The shine also works to highlight architectural features.”

Check out the best tips below to bring your door paint ideas to life.

How to paint a door for a flawless finish

We asked the paint experts at Benjamin Moore and BEHR to help make painting a door seamless, stress-free, and a professional finish. Are the brushes ready?

1. Remove the door from its hinges

When painting a room, it’s a good idea to remove the door from its hinges before painting and place it somewhere on a sheet covering.

If you can’t or don’t want to do this, be sure to protect all areas around the door, including the door frame, hinges, floor, and door handles.

Whichever option you choose, preparation and protection are key to ensuring a clean job.

2. Remove hardware and prepare the door

“If you have to remove the material, take pictures before doing so,” says Helen Shaw of Benjamin Moore. “Put all hardware components in clearly labeled bags to facilitate hardware reassembly.”

She adds, “If the door is in relatively good condition, you can stick the hardware on and paint the door without removing the hardware. This method is less preferred as it can result in brush marks when cutting around the material.

Once you’ve removed the hardware, the last step before preparing to paint is to tape any glazing on the inside of the door or the sections of the door you won’t be painting.

To prepare the door for painting, fill any cracks or dents and sand in the direction of the grain. Doors that have never needed painting may also need priming, for best results. More on that below.

3. Work from top to bottom

“Paint the doors from top to bottom,” advises Ed Edrosa, project manager at BEHR. This will help ensure that you catch drips and drips before they dry.

He continues: “Use a brush to paint a small panel. You can use a brush on the entire surface to avoid the appearance of stippling with the roller.

For paneled doors and frames, use the panel edges as natural breaking points, cutting around the edges and filling in the middle.

4. Prevent drips and drips while you work

To prevent paint drips and puddles from ruining a neat paint job, try these pro tips.

When painting horizontally laid doors:

“Be sure to brush off the inlaid panels,” says Helen Shaw of Benjamin Moore. ‘Check that the panels do not build up after rolling or spraying.’

When painting doors standing vertically:

Helen advises, “Watch out for drips, especially if you’re working with thinned paint. Moisture can keep the product open longer, so check to see if it sinks or sags. Prepare a 2-inch flat brush and a 2-inch angled brush for hard-to-reach places.

5. Wait for the paint to dry

It is important to wait until the paint has cured before adding a second coat, reinstalling or using your door. Ed advises, “Allow enough time for the paint to dry completely before putting the doors and windows back into service. Otherwise, they will stay together.

Although the paint may feel dry to the touch after just a few hours, you’ll want to give it at least a day for it to harden enough that it won’t stick anymore.

Should I prime a door before painting?

Primer is useful for painting a door because it helps paint adhere to the surface and blocks stains. There are several reasons to prime a door before painting.

First, if it’s an unfinished wood or fiberglass door and it’s your first time painting it, you need to use a primer first. This will help the paint stick to the surface of the door, which is especially important because a door is a dynamic part of your home that will often be moved and touched.

Another reason to prime a door is if you’ve sanded a previous stain or finish. Adding a primer will ensure old colors don’t bleed out and give you an even, smooth finish.

Finally, if you’ve filled holes or repaired the surface of the door, using a primer before painting will help ensure an even paint job.

What type of paint should I use for a door?

Choosing the right paint for your door is key to a long lasting finish.

If you are painting an interior door, be sure to choose the right paint finishes. A latex paint with a sheen is a good choice. Gloss, semi-gloss, or eggshell paints are washable, so you can easily clean fingerprints and shoe prints from the door. Ignore gloss unless you are an experienced painter, as gloss paints show brush marks more easily and are more difficult to use.

If you are planning to change the color of your front door or renovate an exterior door, you will need an exterior paint that matches the material of your door. An exterior latex paint will work well for wood and fiberglass.

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