How to Choose the Best Garage Door Paint

Painting a garage door is an important home improvement project, refreshing a highly visible part of your house that gets a lot of use. The products you choose will make all the difference to the quality of the end-result, both in terms of its appearance and durability!  Exterior surfaces experience all types of weather conditions, and it’s worth it for homeowners to use a high-quality paint product you can trust to hold up over time. Plus, you’ll get to admire the finished product every time you come and go from your home.

Use Paint Formulated for Exterior Surfaces

It may be convenient to re-purpose paints you have on hand from previous projects, but it’s more important to make sure the paint you use is formulated for vertical, exterior surfaces. Exterior paint is engineered to withstand exposure to inclement weather and temperature fluctuations (unlike interior paint), and to perform well on vertical surfaces (unlike deck paint).


A Cautionary Word on Black Paint

Black paint (or dark paint) is a popular choice of garage door color, covering blemishes and complementing many home exteriors. But if you’re leaning toward this option, keep in mind that a very dark color can harm your garage door.

Black paint – or dark paints containing black pigments – easily overheats in the sun which could damage your door and potentially void its product warranty.

Only choose a dark exterior paint color if you are confident the location of your door is shaded or cool enough that black pigments won’t cause damage.

Benjamin Moore AURA Exterior and Benjamin Moore Regal Select Exterior are exceptional product lines for exterior paint projects like garage doors – providing fade resistance, moisture protection, and durability. Benjamin Moore AURA features Benjamin Moore Color Lock® Technology for the longest lasting color. If you choose to stain a wood door instead of painting it, we highly recommend Benjamin Moore Woodluxe Stains available in a range of opacities.

Benjamin Moore’s Woodluxe Solid Stain comes in the same color range as paint, but with lower risk of peeling or flaking over time.

Comparison of Benjamin Moore garage door paint products

Opt for a Soft Gloss Finish

Exterior paints come in a range of sheens from flat to high-gloss. Satin or softgloss will be the best finish options for painting garage doors. Flat or matte finishes cover imperfections well, but they are prone to scratching and scuffing. Glossier finishes dry harder, forming a protective coating that performs well on heavily used objects like doors. Just remember that glossy paint will highlight any existing surface imperfections, making it crucial to complete surface preparation such as sanding and cleaning off grime.

Select the Right Paint for Your Garage Door Material

Garage doors are made out of a wide range of materials, so it’s important to choose a paint formulated to adhere to your garage door’s surface. Common garage door materials include wood, vinyl, and fiberglass – as well as metals like aluminum and steel. 

Painting over paint?

Re-painting an already painted surface that is still in good condition doesn’t usually require primer or material-specific paints like metal paint. Unless the old paint is in bad condition and needs a complete makeover, you will typically be able to just clean and lightly sand the surface and paint over it with a high-quality exterior house paint.

If it’s an old door, you may need to spot-prime bare sections before painting. If the previous finish is glossy, use an ultra-adhesive primer before applying exterior paint. And apply a tinted or light primer before painting if the old coat of paint is much darker than your new choice.


Vinyl is a unique material that can easily be damaged by the wrong type of paint – and it’s difficult for paint to adhere to in the first place. Choose a vinyl-safe paint color either comparable to or lighter than the vinyl’s original color. Applying a darker paint to vinyl can cause the material to overheat and warp. Benjamin Moore AURA Exterior and Benjamin Moore Regal Select Exterior paint are both high-quality paint options for vinyl surfaces, and Benjamin Moore has created a convenient palette featuring 75 vinyl-safe colors for ease of selection.

House with siding in Stonington Gray HC-170, trim and garage door in White Wisp OC-54House with siding in Stonington Gray HC-170, trim and garage door in White Wisp OC-54

Choosing the right primer is one of the most important parts of painting vinyl, as this first layer needs to help the coat of paint adhere well to the garage door. You will want to select a primer formulated for challenging surfaces, such as INSL-X Stix® Waterborne Bonding Primer. This primer-sealer provides unparalleled adhesion to glossy surfaces, and is our go-to choice for materials like vinyl.


Fiberglass, like vinyl, is a difficult surface to paint, as the paint doesn’t easily adhere to it. Unless the fiberglass door has already been painted and you’re just re-coating it, you’ll want to start with an ultra-adhesive primer like INSL-X Stix® Waterborne Bonding Primer before applying quality exterior paint. We recommend Benjamin Moore AURA Exterior or Benjamin Moore Regal Select Exterior, both for their high-quality finish and durability.

Galvanized Steel or Aluminum

Metal garage doors are most commonly made from aluminum or galvanized steel. Aluminum is a non-ferrous metal (not containing high quantities of iron), and galvanized steel is treated like non-ferrous metal when being painted. This is an important distinction, as not all metal paint products are made for non-ferrous metals.

Bare Metal

If you are painting a bare aluminum or galvanized steel door – or stripping a previous finish – use a paint product formulated for non-ferrous metals, like Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec DTM Acrylic Enamel. This direct to metal product contains rust-inhibitive properties crucial for painting metal surfaces. It’s also a dual purpose paint-and-primer – the first coat will serve as your primer, and the second coat of paint acts as a durable finish. Note that if the metal door has a smooth surface, you may need to scuff the metal before applying any paint or primer products.

Finished Metal

Most likely, you will not be painting a bare metal surface even if your garage door is made from steel or aluminum. Metal garage doors typically come pre-finished with a layer of paint. When working with a shiny pre-finish, use INSL-X Stix® Waterborne Bonding Primer for adhesion and apply a top coat of quality exterior house paint such as Benjamin Moore AURA Exterior or Benjamin Moore Regal Select Exterior.


Get this natural wood garage door look with a Woodluxe Transclucent StainGet this natural wood garage door look with a Woodluxe Translucent Stain

Wood garage doors naturally require more upkeep than fabricated materials, which makes choosing a high-quality wood paint and primer especially important. You will want your paint job to last with minimal peeling and flaking – both to maintain its aesthetic and to avoid the need for frequent refinishing. Benjamin Moore AURA Exterior and Benjamin Moore Regal Select Exterior are both high-quality paint options for wood doors. New or weathered surfaces should be primed first with a coat of Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Exterior Wood Primer.

Homeowners can also choose a stain instead of a paint product. Stains range in opacity from translucent to fully opaque, providing different looks and coverage levels based on the type of wood and desired aesthetic. A solid stain is an opaque, pigmented stain that creates a uniform appearance — similar to paint – while also penetrating the wood for a preserving and sealing effect. Solid stains are less prone to peeling and flaking than paint, since paint forms an outer layer that does not sink into the wood. Benjamin Moore Woodluxe Solid Stain is a long-lasting finish, available in the same 3,500+ colors as Benjamin Moore’s exterior paints. The Woodluxe line includes translucent, semi-transparent, and semi-solid formulas as well!

What About Painting Garage Door Trim?

Follow the same guidelines for garage door trim as for the door itself. However, note that exterior trim is typically painted with a low-lustre or satin sheen as opposed to soft-gloss. These in-between options cover blemishes better than glossier finishes, but are still easier to clean than a flat or matte finish. Don’t forget to apply an adhesive primer like INSL-X Stix® Waterborne Bonding Primer before painting if the trim already has a shiny finish or is a difficult material to paint, such as vinyl or fiberglass.

Find the Best Garage Door Paint Products at Ring’s End

Choosing high-quality paint products for your garage door is crucial to make sure your effort accomplishes the perfect look – improving your home’s curb appeal for years to come.

Benjamin Moore’s wide variety of high-quality exterior primers and paints accommodate any type of garage door, and you can shop their collection of over 3,500 colors at Ring’s End. Our paint experts are here to help with any questions you have – use our online chat or text (203) PRO-HELP for additional guidance and painting tips for your DIY project!

Garage Door Paint FAQ

Do garage doors need to be primed before painting?

What’s the best paint sheen for garage doors?

What’s the best way to apply paint to a metal garage door?

Which Benjamin Moore paint colors are vinyl-safe?