How to paint a garage door: metal, steel, fiberglass or for a wood effect

A step-by-step on how to paint a garage door made from metal, steel, fiberglass or wood. Plus, how to create a wood-like effect...

how to paint a garage door
(Image credit: Getty)

The garage door is a major feature of the front of your home. Discover how to paint a garage door and you can transform the exterior of the house, giving it the curb appeal you’ll enjoy and which will attract buyers when the time comes to sell.

Whether your garage door is made from metal, steel, fiberglass or wood, you can paint it to refresh its appearance as well as help maintain the door in good condition. It’s a job you can do yourself with our guide, but if you prefer to call on a contractor to paint the garage door for you, we’ve got the details on what you can expect to pay.

If you like the idea of transforming your garage into extra interior space for your home, head on over to our garage conversion ideas for plenty of inspiration. And if you’re eager to paint your garage door, just scroll down and follow these easy steps, plus find out everything else you need to know about this home improvement project.

A garage door is sizeable enough to make a major impact on the appearance of a home. And while the interior might be used for your vehicles, as a workshop, for storage or, in some garage conversions, simply be left as part of the facade, because of its dimensions, sprucing up the door by painting it is worth spending a little time and money on.

how to paint a garage door

Georgian white steel panel side-hinged garage door from Garador

(Image credit: Garador)

What kind of paint do you use on a garage door?

Which paint you should use to paint a garage door depends on what the door is made from. Using a primer first will often be necessary (see below), although some paints do not require this. Check the tin for details.

You could use an acrylic paint that is specifically for garage doors. Alternatively, select a paint made for external wood, metal, steel or fiberglass as appropriate depending on what your garage door is made from. 

Bear in mind that in the case of galvanized steel garage doors it is particularly important to check that the paint you are using is suitable as not all metal paints last well on a galvanized surface.

There are specific garage door paints out there:

How to paint a garage door

Before you begin, make sure you have all the tools and materials you require and choose a dry, warm (not hot) day to carry out the work particularly if your garage door faces the sun. The heat may cause the new paint to blister. This is the best way to paint timber and metal garage doors.

You will need:

1. Clean the doors

Begin by cleaning the doors off. A diluted sugar soap solution or simply warm soapy water will do the job – ensure any product is well rinsed off before the doors are left to thoroughly dry.

2. Remove door furniture

Either remove door handles, hinges and brackets or use masking tape to cover them up.

3. Sand and prep

Sand the doors down. In the case of flaking metal garage doors, you might need a wire brush. For timber doors, a fine or medium grade sandpaper will do the job. Ensure there is no loose material left on the doors and wipe down again.

4. Prime the doors

Unless you are using a product that doubles up as a primer, begin by priming the doors. A large paintbrush (between 3in and 5in) is a good choice for this job – it is hard to get in between panels using a roller. Let dry completely having first checked for any paint runs.

5. Paint the doors

Paint the garage doors using a large brush, using a smaller model for the edges of the doors. It should not be necessary to remove the doors for painting, even in the case of ‘up and over’ designs. Paint from top to bottom in the case of vertical panel doors, or from the top then side-to-side with horizontal panels. Two coats will usually be required – allow to dry thoroughly between coats.

6. Leave the paint to dry

Leave the doors to dry for at least 12 hours before using – or for the time stated on the paint you have chosen.

7. Clean up

Clean brushes using a solvent such as white spirit.

White painted garage doors

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to paint a garage door to look like wood

If you want to paint your garage door so that it looks as if it’s made from wood, you will need to work with two different paint colors to create the faux finish. You might want to do a test run on a piece of board before you get started on the garage door to perfect your technique.

Prepare and prime the door as above, then use a matt base paint with a warm mid brown tone. Allow to dry thoroughly. 

Working in a small area of the door first, apply a dark brown paint. Then, take a clean, lint-free cloth and use it to wipe the darker paint, revealing the lighter paint color below until you get a wood effect you like. 

Repeat the process over subsequent sections of the door to create a consistent color from one to another.

Allow the paint to dry thoroughly. You can add a matt clear finish above for extra durability if desired.

Prefer an all-in-one kit that will allow you to give a garage door a faux wood finish? Check out the Giani Wood Look Garage Door Paint Kit.

How to paint glass reinforced plastic (GRP) and fiberglass garage doors

Fiberglass doors can be painted, but they are not structurally as strong as the alternatives, so before deciding to go to the effort of repainting, do check that their condition has not deteriorated beyond repair.

When sanding GRP or fiberglass, wear a mask and go gently – a brillo pad, wire wool or very soft sandpaper will be enough.

Fiberglass can be resistant to paint, so use a good bonding primer and a paint recommended for fiberglass.

Do I need to prime a garage door before painting?

Generally, you will need to prime a garage door before painting. It’s part of the preparation work for the project and helps ensure you get good and lasting results.

A primer will prepare the surface of the door for the topcoat, preventing peeling and flaking of the new paint, and getting it ready for a color change. Using primer is particularly important if you are going to be using a much darker shade than before. It can also be vital for galvanized steel doors, which are difficult for paints to adhere to. 

The exception to the priming rule is where you are using a paint that is designed to be used as primer and topcoat in one (see above).

How much does it cost to paint a garage door?

Paint the garage door yourself and a little time and expenditure can deliver great results. Expect to pay from around $15 a quart (£14 per liter) for the paint you‘ll need for the door. You might want to go for a specialist kit to give your garage door a wood look as an alternative. Take this option and you can expect to pay around $70 (£50).  

If you decide to call in the professionals to paint your garage door, the job should take no longer than a day, depending on the condition of the door and weather allowing. Therefore you’ll likely pay from around $150 to $550 and upwards, depending on the size of the door (£120 to £200 plus, not including paint in the UK). Some companies offer a garage door spraying service too.