How to Paint Your Front Door Like a Pro

Painting your front door a new color is a fast, easy way to update your entry and add to your home’s curb appeal. You’ll want to make a good first impression with a professional paint job – no drips or visible brush strokes. With the right paint, supplies, and a bit of patience, painting your front door is a DIY job you shouldn’t be afraid to tackle yourself. Planning ahead will make it easier to complete the project in a weekend. We’re here to help, with answers to common questions and a step-by-step guide to the best possible front door paint job.

What kind of paint is best for a front door?

In addition to being exposed to the weather, exterior doors take a beating with everything from kids and pets, to packages and bicycles constantly going in and out. Dust and pollen accumulate on the surface so front doors require regular washing as well. High-gloss, semi-gloss and satin paint finishes are the best finishes. Not only do they provide a rich sheen, they stand up to scrubbing.

Three images of front doors painted in different colors

For durability, choose a type of paint that’s formulated to stand up to the additional wear and tear of an exterior door, including extreme heat and cold, wind, rain, and UV damage. At Ring’s End, we recommend Benjamin Moore’s ADVANCE High Gloss paint. This water-based acrylic alkyd paint is preferred by professional painters because of its quality and performance. Alkyd paints adhere well to almost any surface; this type of paint will dry slowly and level up evenly to minimize the appearance of brush marks. Whether you want an airy aqua color like Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue, or a classic navy front door color like Hale Navy, ADVANCE provides lasting color retention. 

Don’t forget the storm door! Painting the storm door to match the front door is a stylish touch. 

Preparing for Your Front Door Paint DIY

Skill with a paintbrush isn’t the only factor that will make your DIY front door paint job a success—preparation is key!

First, set up your work area; front door paint has a long drying time. Try to create a dust-free zone that’s neither too hot nor too cold, and never paint a door in direct sunlight. When the temperature is over 90 0F, or the air has very low humidity, the paint will dry before it has a chance to level itself (leveling is the paint’s process of smoothing itself out, which helps hide brush marks).

Ideally, you should remove the door from its hinges and place it on a table or sawhorses. While it is possible to paint a front door while it is hanging, it’s easier to achieve a beautiful smooth finish with a door that’s laying flat. 

Front Door Painting Supply List

Supplies and tools you'll need from home: 

  • Vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment

  • All-purpose cleaner

  • Rags

  • Sawhorses or work table

  • Denatured alcohol (not rubbing alcohol)

  • Putty knife or scraper

  • Orbital sander

Painting a Front Door, Step-by-Step

1. Remove Door Hardware

We don’t recommend painting the door without removing the hardware, especially the knocker. Even though masking tape can keep the hardware clean, it is difficult to paint around it without leaving brush marks. Remove the hardware and keep all the parts together in a bag.

2. Clean the Surface of the Door

Front doors get dirty with dust, pollen, and oil from hands touching them, so it’s important to get the surface clean. Scrub the door with all-purpose cleaner, wipe thoroughly with water to remove all residue, and let it dry fully. Doing this the day before painting is ideal.

3. Sand and Scrape

Sanding down a front door before painting

If your door has any loose or peeling paint, remove it with a paint scraper. Then use the denatured alcohol to find out if the old paint is oil-based or latex-based. Put some of the alcohol on a white rag and rub the door. If the paint comes off it’s latex-based and you should sand it with fine-grit sandpaper. If it doesn’t come off, it’s oil-based and you should use medium-grit sandpaper.

4. Mask With Tape

Carefully cover any hardware or window trim that you want to protect with painter’s tape.

5. Apply Primer

Priming is an important step. A quality primer hides the old paint on your front door and gives the new paint a surface to grip onto. Apply two coats, and sand the door lightly after each coat of primer. Make sure there are no drips or pooling paint in either coat of primer, or they will show in the finished door. Follow the primer’s recoating instructions to make sure it is dry before moving on to paint.

Should you paint a front door with a brush or roller?

A quality front door paint finish requires high-quality painting tools like Wooster Brush Company’s brushes and cabinet rollers. Small paint rollers with a flat surface or “nap” and rounded ends are the professionals’ choice for painting doors.

Rollers spread a longer, thinner coat of paint to minimize bumps, and the round ends can paint grooves while avoiding overlap marks.

A 2.5″ angled trim brush is perfect for painting panel edges and catching drips.

6. Apply Paint

Front door paint can be applied using brushes or rollers, but professionals use rollers for a smooth finish. If your door has panels, painting the panels first gives you the best results:

  • Use the roller’s curved edge or the angled brush to paint the molding profiles around the panel edges

  • Paint the center of the panel with the roller

  • Paint the areas between panels with the roller following the grain, either horizontally or vertically

  • Paint the areas along the side of the door, moving the roller vertically

  • Paint the edges of the door last

Apply light coats of paint and watch for drips so you can clean them up with the brush as you go. You will need at least two coats, perhaps three, for a professional finish.

7. Let the Paint Dry Thoroughly

It’s important to let the first coat of front door paint dry for 24 hours before applying a second coat.

8. Install Door Hardware

Once everything is fully dry, remove the painter’s tape and carefully reattach the hardware. Grab a friend to help you lift the door into place and reattach the hinges; then stand back and admire your home’s new look!

Order Front Door Paint Online

Ring's End offers ADVANCE High Gloss paint and all Benjamin Moore paints for online ordering, shipping anywhere in the U.S.! Place your order online for fast and convenient shipping right to your front door.