Your home’s front door is its most inviting feature and the main focal point from the outside, and there’s no better way to nail a great first impression than with a fresh coat of paint.
Painting your front door is a DIY project that’s simple to do, yet delivers big impact with instant curb appeal. Whether you choose a paint color that complements the exterior palette, or one that stands out in a strikingly bold contrast, you’ll want to start the painting process by latching onto these important steps to get a lock on a smooth, beautiful finish.
When You Can Skip the Primer
You might assume that primer is needed when painting a front door, but that’s not always the case. There are instances when foregoing primer and skipping straight to paint is your best bet.
- If you choose a self-priming paint, such as Aura Exterior or Regal Select Exterior High Build by Benjamin Moore
- It’s important to avoid building up too many layers of paint. Extra coats can soften the overall durability of the painted door making it easier to scuff and dent.
- Too many layers of paint can affect the door’s fit and function, or even cause unwanted “blocking,” i.e. when paint sticks to another surface, like the door jamb, and peels off as soon as the door is opened.
When Primer is a Must
Wooden doors with peeling paint and exposed wood must be cleaned, sanded, and primed. Depending on the condition of the remaining paint, you might choose to spot prime only the areas with checking or peeling paint. If several coats of paint have peeled, you may have a thick ridge or edge of paint where it transitions to exposed wood. You can minimize this by applying several thin coats of primer to the bare area, then sanding lightly between coats. This will help level out the finish and the existing paint evenly on the door.
Surprisingly, metal doors only require a coat of primer if there are visible signs of rust. If you can see rust-colored pitting, discoloration, or flakes of corrosion, remove the rust with a wire brush or sandpaper, then apply one coat of rust inhibitive primer.
Many metal doors are fabricated with galvanized metal rather than ferrous metal. Oil-based or alkyd paints applied to galvanized metal will adhere initially but will peel in a short amount of time. The galvanized coating contains zinc, and will react with the alkyd paint in a process called saponification. If you have a galvanized metal door, use acrylic, water-based paint.
Vinyl, Fiberglass or Laminate Doors
Because of their smooth finishes, these synthetic surfaces lack the absorbency for many paints to adhere to over the long term. We recommend cleaning the door thoroughly with TSP (detergent) and then applying one coat of STIX Primer, which is designed to be a bonding primer, not a high-hiding primer. Although one coat of STIX may appear thin, transparent, or see-through, we promise, it only takes one coat to be effective (and remember, you want to avoid applying too many layers of paint).
What type of paint should be used on exterior doors?
It’s time to bust the myth that metal doors require an oil-based metal paint, when in fact high quality acrylic water-based exterior paints are a better choice for front doors. This is because water-based coatings are more flexible and can expand and contract as the door heats and cools. This translates to better gloss retention over the long term.
Alkyd, or oil-based exterior paint is more brittle and will not hold their sheen as long as a high quality exterior acrylic. The only instance where you might use an oil-based paint would be if you are dealing with a ferrous metal door with visible signs of rust.
Because front doors are high traffic areas, choose an exterior paint with a gentle luster or sheen (semi-gloss, satin and soft-gloss are all good choices) that will be more resistant to scuffing and keep shining through daily wear and tear.
Product Feature: Aura® Exterior
Experience rich, full color and unprecedented durability. Aura®protects against cracking, peeling, fading, and is also mildew and stain resistant. Bonus, it can be self-priming in some instances.Shop Aura Exterior
What about the inside of an exterior door?
We get this question a lot! Many homeowners think they need to paint the inside of an exterior door in an exterior paint, but it’s not necessary if you’ve done advance surface preparation properly. Then you are free to paint the inside of exterior doors with the same paint that matches your interior doors and trim.
Other Tips & Tricks for Painting Your Exterior Door:
- Never apply paint in direct sunlight or when the door is hot. This will cause the paint to dry too quickly and leave more application marks.
- There’s no such thing as too much surface preparation. We recommend washing the door with TSP and water, rinsing well, and then sanding. Prior to painting, the sanding dust should be removed with a tack cloth.
- Extend the lifespan of your painted door by washing it once a year with a mild solution of dish soap and water, then giving it a good rinse. Dish soap is mild enough to remove any dirt and grease, yet won’t damage the gloss of the paint.
Successfully painting your front door hinges on following the proper steps. Once you do, you’ll see how a freshly-painted door enhances your home’s curb appeal and welcomes admiring looks from the rest of the neighborhood.
YOUR NEXT PAINT JOB STARTS HERE! JC Licht is the Midwest’s largest dealer of Benjamin Moore, the highest quality paint on the market. For paint, tools and tips in-store or online, visit shopjclicht.com.