How to paint a door: give your front or internal doors a makeover

Once you've learnt how to paint a door it's a DIY skill you'll use time and time again. Just follow our step-by-step guide and video

Learn how to paint a door and it's a DIY skill you'll use for life
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Yup, there is a right way to paint a door – but once you've learnt how, it's a DIY skill you can use for life. Whether it's your front door or internal doors that need painting, the technique is basically the same. You'll need time and space but it's not a complicated job and you certainly don’t need to pay a professional to do it for you. Colourful internal doors and frames are all the rage at the moment, so consider going for a dark grey or blue instead of standard white. And when it comes to your front door, go as bold as you like (as long as you don't live in a Conservation Area with restrictions on paint colour, of course.)

By following this simple step-by-step guide, from preparing the door for painting, to leaving the paint to dry and cure, you can guarantee a professional finish throughout your home.

For more advice about painting your house, inside and out, see our expert guide.

Painting a front door

If you are painting your front door, the process is exactly the same as for a wooden interior door, but you have the added complication of the weather and security to contend with.

If you have a new door to paint (see our guide to choosing a new front door for advice), leave the old one in position until the new one is ready to hang. This may mean removing the old door temporarily while you size up and cut the new one.

Paint under cover if possible, but always choose a day with no forecast of rain, strong wind or any other adverse conditions that could affect your work.

If you are re-painting your existing front door, remove it from the hinges and remove any door furniture. Masking tape windows to protect them from paint. If you do not have anything to temporarily block the doorway, work in a place where you can keep an eye on the door for security.

Ideally, the paint needs a day to cure but this isn't always possible when the door needs removing. If this is the case, start first thing and invest in good quality primer and paint that will dry in good time.

blue pastel door with white windows and bricks

(Image credit: Darren Chung)

What you’ll need for painting a door:

See our pick of the best brushes and rollers and the best paints for wood.

1. Take the door off its hinges

Before starting to paint your door, take it off its hinges and lay it flat on a paste table. Remove any handles, door knobs and hinges.

2. Prep the door 

Make sure the surface is clean, dry and is free from dust and grease. Scrape off any loose paint, remove any mildew with a solution of one-part bleach and three-parts water, and sand thoroughly.

Apply a coat of primer using a brush and small roller to help achieve a professional-looking finish.

Top tip: If you’re painting an interior door, choose a gloss or satin finish for durability. For exterior doors, like this one, choose an exterior paint. This is Wildlife from Valspar’s Exterior Wood & Metal Trim range.


3. Paint the door

Begin by brushing inset or trim details by hand with a paintbrush so that you can lay an even base coat. Use the brush to feather out the edges of the paint so that there are no drips.

Then, use a small foam roller to apply a smooth, consistent paint application across all of the flat surfaces, including the outside edges of the door.


4. Leave the door out to dry

Allow to dry for two to four hours, lightly sand in-between coats to encourage good adhesion and add a second coat.

Once one side is completely dry, turn it over and do the other side. 

Leave the door for a full day to allow the paint to cure. Then reattach the handles, hinges and knobs and reattach to the frame. 


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Laura Crombie
Laura Crombie

Laura is Brand Development Editor for Real Homes, focusing on video and events. She has written about homes and interiors for the last 12 years and was Deputy Editor and Editor of Real Homes before taking on her current position. She's currently deciding whether to extend the kitchen of her family home in Worcestershire or relocate for a renovation project and bigger garden.