How to Paint a Front Door


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I stalled on this project for two years. my front door needed painted badly, but I didn’t want the work involved to do it. Our door needed stripped and sanded. Out of all the DIY projects we’ve done over the years, stripping paint is my least favorite. However, with the sheen on our door it was necessary. And so friends, I bit the bullet and got er done! This is how to paint a front door, based on my experience.

This weekend I finally decided to rip the bandaid off and go for it. And now I want to share how to paint a front door from personal experience. There are so many different ways to do it out there, and this was the one that worked for me.

This was the door when we moved in:

This was after I painted the lights (find out how I did that here) and painted the door trim:

And this is today:

Learn from my mistakes

I’m going to be completely honest, I have no idea what our door is made out of. It’s not solid wood, and it’s not metal. So where does that leave us? I haven’t a clue. Just to be safe, I knew I was going to have to strip and clean this door within an inch of its life to make sure the paint would stick.

When I painted the inside of this door black a few years ago, it turned out horrible. Anytime a nail scratches against it the paint comes off. If you wash a spot, the paint comes off. But I did it in haste and on a whim. I used semi gloss wall paint on the door and didn’t do any prep work. It’s not pretty friends. About once a month I get out the black paint and touch up the scratched and worn off spots. I didn’t want to have those issues on the outside of the door, which will get the brunt of all the seasons, as well as a lot more banged up, exposed, and rubbed against.


After taping off the door surround, I used a spay can of Citristrip, and generously sprayed it over the entire door and let it set for 45 minutes.

After that I got busy scraping away.

Truthfully, not as much paint and sealer came off as I had anticipated. Still, I spent over an hour scraping away at every corner of the door, using paper towels and toothpicks, yes friends, toothpicks, to get in the corners and crannies. It wasn’t the highlight of my day by any means.

Once I got as much of the stripper and debris off as possible, I sanded it with a mouse sander and medium grit sand paper. After that I again, wiped the whole door down.

Once I vacuumed the door, you also read that right, I used the toothpicks again to clean out the corners, and then I scrubbed the entire door down with hot water and dawn dish soap.

After I was done scrubbing, I hosed it off with a high power water stream.

From their I took a dry rag and wiped down the door as dry as possible. After that I left to air dry for another hour and then began painting.

I put one coat on it, let it sit for an hour, and then placed a second coat on. It only took two. I let it sit for 24 hours and then sprayed it with Valspar Project Perfect Top Coat in low sheen satin. I did two layers and it used up the whole can.

And yes, I’m well aware we’re missing the door handleset. While I was painting around it Travis looked at the handle and said, “That thing is old and worn out, let’s get a new one!” I ordered this modern beauty and am excited for it to come in a few days and then the door will be complete!

What do you think?! Would you attempt to paint your front door?

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