Depending on your climate and the amount of sun exposure, your home's exterior doors (front and back doors) will probably need to be painted every 5 to 10 years. 

If your exterior doors are looking faded with little scratches or you would like to paint them a new color, follow the steps below to paint an exterior door.


Tips & Tricks for How to Paint an Exterior Doorphoto courtesy of Robert Donovan
Clean your exterior door with soap and water before painting to remove all dirt, dust, and debris.


Brush On or Spray On?
Decide whether you want to brush on the paint or spray paint your exterior door. 

If you decide to spray paint your door,  you must remove the door to move it to a well ventilated area and you will need to have spray painting equipment and saw horses to rest the door on. 

The good part about spray painting a door is that you will not have brush marks and you will get an even finish. 

If you decide to apply the paint using a brush, you will most likely see the brush marks, but you can paint the door without removing it from its hinges. 

Keep in mind that if you remove your exterior door you will need to cover the hole with plywood overnight while one side dries and another night if you paint the other side also. 

If you decide to brush on the paint, you should start painting in the morning so the door's edges have time to dry before having to shut the door at night.


Tape Off
If you are painting your exterior door while it is still hung, tape off your hinges.   You can use a knife to cut the painter's tape around the edge of the hinges to create an exact fit.

Instead of using painters tape, consider covering your hinges with rubber cement, then cut around the edges using a knife and peel off the rubber cement after you are finished painting. 

Whether spraying or brushing, you also need to remove the door knob for a professional finish. 

If your exterior door has glass, cover the glass in newspaper and tape down the edges.


Lightly sand your exterior door using 120 grit sandpaper. 

Repair any spots that are damaged using wood filler and sand again.

Use a tack cloth to remove all sanding debris before painting. 

Make sure to sand very well if you are painting water based paint over oil based paint.


Paint one light coat of primer on your exterior door. 

If you chose to spray paint, paint a scrap piece of wood to test the equipment and practice painting before painting your door. 

If you are painting with a brush, start by painting the raised panels of your doors, then paint the grooves around the panels. 

Always paint in the direction of the wood grain instead of across the grain. 

After painting the raised panels, paint the rails (horizontal pieces) and then the stiles (vertical pieces). 

Paint all 4 outside edges of the door last.


After the primer has fully dried, paint the exterior door the same way you painted the primer. 

You will most likely need two coats of an exterior paint (make sure you do not use interior paint). 

Use several light coats of paint instead of heavy coats since heavy coats are prone to creating drips.

Ensure each coat is fully dry before applying another coat.


Leave Door Open
If you painted your door while still hung, do not close the door until the edges of the door are fully dry per your paint manufacturer's listed dry time.





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