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How to Paint Your Front Door

Guess what? Painting your front door isn’t hard. You can do it in an afternoon!

Does your front door need a new coat of paint? We’ll walk you through all the steps it takes to paint your front door. And guess what? It’s easy! Plus, painting your front door is a great way to explore color and give your entrance a dramatic makeover. It’s all done in just a couple hours!


Is the door already painted? If so, you need to figure out what kind of paint is already on the door – oil or latex. To do this, use denatured alcohol on an area. If the paint comes off, it is latex. This is important to know because latex paint can’t be applied directly over oil. Primer is needed.


A person pouring country blue paint into a small paint holder while sitting on a white drop cloth.
  1. In general, latex is better than oil point. It holds color better and clean up is easier.
  2. Buy a high-quality exterior paint in satin or semi-gloss finish.
  3. When choosing a color, look at all the colors on the house exterior–even flowers and landscaping. There are many different ways to approach color: traditional, neutral or bold. A door can be fun to experiment with bold color. If you don’t love it? Just paint again!
  4. Buy samples and swatch out on the door. Or, pick up swatch cards and evaluate. Some bigger paint brands now offer stickers that can be applied to a wall or door. These are available online.



supplies needed to paint such as brushes rollers paint and paint thinner
  1. TSP phosphate-free cleaner
  2. Sanding sponge
  3. Spackle or wood filler
  4. Tack cloth
  5. Water bucket and rags
  6. Painter’s tape


woman cleaning the door prepping it for paint
woman drying off door after cleaning it

Note: Ideally, it’s better to take the door off and work with it flat on sawhorses or a table. Removing it is not necessary, but easier for working.

  1. Wash down the door with TSP. It’s a phosphate-free cleaner made for paint prep. You can find it online or at hardware stores.
  2. Wipe down with clean water.
  3. Repair holes and imperfections with spackle or wood filler, if necessary.
  4. Use a sanding sponge to rough up the surface and even out imperfections.
  5. Use a tack cloth to remove any dust or debris from sanding.
  6. Tape off windows, hardware and edges.
  7. Remove weather stripping around door frame.


woman mixing country blue paint with paint stick
  1. Paint raised panels first.
  2. Bright colors require extra coats of paint.
  3. Use high-quality brushes with soft bristles to avoid leaving paint strokes.
  4. Avoid working in direct sun or wind to prevent latex paint from drying too fast.
  5. The can or container will have a temperature recommendation for working. Paint should dry at that temperature for at least 8 hours.


  1. There is a big difference between dried paint and cured paint. Your door should cure for several weeks. During that time, treat it gently.
  2. Do not reinstall weather stripping until the door’s cured.
  3. Remove tape pulling away from you to avoid peeling paint.


woman getting ready to paint

We want to see your front door makeover! Share a picture and any tips you might have in the comments below.

Do you want to learn more about Seasonal Front Door Decorating?

Meet Robin!

woman with white scarf smiling and opening front door

Robin grew up on a farm in the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin. After years living “in town,” she recently moved back to the country where she is renovating an old farmhouse. She’s an expert on window blinds and drape installations, color consultation and blind repair. Her flagship store, “House to Home Designs” is located on the historic Square, downtown Monroe, Wisconsin. Read More

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