Painting A Front Door - Home Decorating & Painting Advice

Painting A Front Door


Painting a front door is an easy weekend project, and one thing that will certainly cheer any entry is a fresh coat of paint. Gray, taupe, and black are conservative choices that always work, but there’s no need to stick to a neutral. You can be brave and opt for a bolder hue — green, yellow, red, blue, anything goes! Have you thought about painting your front door this weekend?

The job can be done in place and doesn’t require removal of the door, which makes it an easier project to tackle over the course of two days. A freshly painted front door is sure to increase the curb appeal and update the appearance of your residence with minimal effort.

Supplies you’ll need: painter’s tarp, angled paintbrush, foam roller, paint tray, painters tape, primer or deglosser*, outdoor paint.

Here are the basic steps for painting a front door in place:

1.   Select a few paint samples and purchase testers in the colors you’re considering. Paint large test swatches on paper, cardboard, or poster board and allow it to dry. Examine the colors suspended on the front door in different light to decide which shade looks best in both morning and afternoon.
2.  Determine if the paint on the front door is oil or water based paint with this simple trick: soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and rub it across the existing paint. If the paint comes off, it’s latex, if it doesn’t, then it’s an oil based paint. This is important to know for Step 4 and 5
3.  Tape off the doorknob, knocker and other hardware with painters tape in preparation. Protect your entry floor with a painter’s tarp.
4.  If your door is stained wood, or was previously finished with oil based paint, it will need a coat of primer before you paint. Coat your front door with one coat of quality adhesion primer. Note that water based primers and paints allow for expansion and contraction outside among the elements far better than oil based paint, so work with water based primers and water based latex or enamel paints designed for outdoor use. For this door I chose Glidden paint’s Black Magic in the high gloss indoor/outdoor formula.

5.  If your door was previously painted with latex paint, degloss it first with a deglossing product to prepare it for another layer of water based paint. Use a foam roller to apply the paint quickly then a quality angled 1 1/2 or 2″ paintbrush to do the trim, raised panels, or millwork. Using thin coats helps to avoid drips and also speeds up the drying process. Some paints cover in two coats, often it takes three, but it’s best to work with thinner coats so that the layers dry quickly.


6.  If you encounter minimal brush strokes or drips between coats, use a fine grit sanding* wedge to knock down those edges. After two (or perhaps three) coats of outdoor paint, step back and admire your beautiful new front door!

As always, safety first!  Please refer to the Product Label, Technical Data Sheet (TDS) or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for safety and detailed application instructions.

*WARNING! If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to
Open Glidden Color Coach
Glidden Color Coach