How to Paint a Door Properly

Follow these Step-by-Step Instructions for Ensuring a Quality Door Paint Job

By Mark J. Donovan

Painting a door is a great way to add the finishing touches to a room that has just recently been painted. Door painting is easy to do and is a low risk project for even the most novices of DIYers. It’s a small project, costs little to do, and requires little skill. That said, painting a door requires a bit more of an organized process to ensure a quality job. Following the steps below will ensure you get the quality door paint job you desire.

Tools and Materials for Door Painting

For materials and tools you’ll of course need a small quart size can of interior paint. In addition, you’ll require a one to two inch wide quality paint brush, a roller and paint tray, 120-grit sandpaper, tack cloth and mineral spirits.


For best results when painting a door remove the door from the door frame and remove all of the hardware, e.g. door knob and hinges, from the door. Then take the door to a large area where you can easily paint it. A well ventilated garage or basement, for example, works best for small paint jobs like this.

If you don’t feel up to removing the door from the doorframe, then use painters tape to mask over all the hardware. However, do not apply the masking tape until you complete step two first.

Step 2

The second step in painting a door is like all other paint jobs. Preparing the surface you plan to paint. Use 120-grit sandpaper to sand the entire door. Lightly sanding the door will ensure a quality paint job that lasts. Sanding the door surface enables the paint to adhere better to the door. You can either hold the sandpaper in your hand to sand the door or use a power sander. If you use a power sander make sure not to hold the sander in any one place for too long or else you will create marks in the wood.

Assuming you plan to paint the door frame as well lightly sand it down too.

After sanding the door and door frame wipe down both using a tack cloth lightly dampened with mineral spirits. This will remove any dust or oil from the door surfaces to ensure the paint adheres well to the door and frame.

Step 3

If you left the door on the doorframe for painting, now is the time to apply masking tape around the door hardware. Make sure to do a neat job with the taping to ensure clean paint lines.

If your door painting plans include painting the doorframe, paint it first using a one to two inch wide paint brush. After painting the doorframe let it completely dry if you plan to paint the door while it is still attached to the doorframe. This way you won’t inadvertently smudge the paint on the doorframe while you’re painting the door itself.

Step 4

If your door has insert panels, e.g. a six panel door, paint them first using your one to two inch wide paint brush. Make sure to really work the paint brush well into all the corners of the insert panels.

Step 5

For the rest of the door use a paint roller to apply the paint. The paint roller will help speed up the painting of the door and enable a smoother finish. Also use your paint brush to work in any brush marks that may appear on the door surface from your early work. After painting one side of the door you should ideally let it fully dry before painting the other side. This way you will avoid leaving finger prints on the fresh paint.

How to paint a door.

Once both sides of the door are painted use your paint roller to paint the edges of the door. Again, have your paint brush handy to blend in any over-paint when painting the edges.

Step 6

After the door has been painted re-attach the door hardware and re-install the door onto its hinges. If you left the door on the hinges to paint, then remove the masking tape to compete the project.

See the Installing Interior Window Ebook from The Installing Interior Window Trim Ebook provides easy to understand, step-by-step instructions, on how to install interior window trim around a window. Pictures are included for every key step in the process.

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