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Step Up Your Curb Appeal: How to Paint an Exterior Door

Tips for Painting Your Front Door from the Color Experts

From heat and humidity to wind and rain, your front door faces it all–and it often shows. Whether you’re prepping your house to sell or personalizing your forever home, painting the front door is a small renovation that makes a big impression. To help you execute this DIY project with flying colors, we talked to the experts at BEHR and Kelly-Moore.

Get ready to repaint your front door with tips from the pros.

Know What Kind of Paint to Use on Your Front Door

First, it’s important to use the right type of paint to prevent premature chipping, bubbling and other weather damage. As tempting as it may be to carry your indoor color scheme to your exterior, you cannot use leftover interior paint outside. For a durable finish, use a good quality exterior paint in a gloss or semi-gloss that will minimize dirt build up, highlight architectural features and stand up to nicks and scratches.

Behr Logo“When choosing your paint, I recommend a latex paint in a high sheen, like BEHR Premium Plus in Satin, Semi-Gloss or Hi-Gloss Enamel. High sheens are easier to clean and better withstand frequent use.”

Octave Villar | Applications Lab Manager, BEHR


You’ll need approximately one quart of exterior paint per door. The pros also recommend a coat of primer. 

Pro-Tip: It’s important to know whether you’re painting over latex- or oil-based paint. You never want to paint latex over oil or vice versa. This can lead to premature weathering. Also make sure you select a latex- or oil-based primer that matches the type of paint you’re using.

Select a Color That Compliments Your Home and Personality

There’s a lot to keep in mind while choosing a front door color. After all, the color of your entrance can say a lot about your family’s personality and can even make a psychological impact

Kelly-Moore Paints Logo“Homeowners need to consider the kind of design statement they would like to make. If they want to make a bold statement they should consider using a high contrasting color like black, navy blue, dark green, bright yellow or red for white or light neutral houses.”

Mary Lawlor | Manager of Color Marketing at Kelly-Moore Paints

On the other hand, if you’re sprucing up your home to sell or if you live in an area with strict HOA regulations, it’s best to go neutral.

“For a less dramatic statement, homeowners might consider a less contrasting color that coordinates with their siding, roof and any existing masonry on the house," Lawlor said. "One other thing to consider is the color of the area of the home the door will open up into.”

Popular Front Door Paint Colors

“When it comes to a front door, many homeowners want a color that’s on-trend and a product that will withstand the wear and tear of everyday life,” said Erika Woelfel, Vice President of Color and Creative Services at BEHR. 

For a little inspiration, Woelfel recommends freshening up your front door with a warm taupe gray like Off The Grid T18-08 or making a statement with a bold hue like Blue Hydrangea PPU15-13. These front door paint color ideas are available at The Home Depot.

 

Behr Front Door Paint Colors

 

Painting a Front Door in 4 Easy Steps

Now that you’ve decided on a color, let’s start painting. 

Gather your tools and materials:

  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper or sanding block
  • Paint scraper
  • 2-inch paintbrush
  • 6-inch paint roller with ¼ inch nap
  • Paint tray
  • Primer
  • Exterior paint
  • Drop cloth
  • Rags

Pro-Tip: Before you begin, keep the weather forecast in mind. Sunny days with little chance of rain and low humidity are ideal for allowing paint to dry.

1. Prep Your Front Door

  • Decide whether you’re painting your door in place or removing it from the hinges. If you’re removing the door, you can hang a tarp over the doorway to prevent bugs or debris from getting in. 
  • Remove door knobs, locks, knockers and other accessories or wrap with painter’s tape. Removing door accessories gives you a chance to either replace them or give them a nice polish. Also make sure to cover any glass windows with newspaper and painter’s tape. 
  • Clean the door with a damp cloth. 
  • Use a fine-grit sandpaper or a sanding block to sand down any paint chips or imperfections. Wipe down the door once more before painting and sweep away dust and debris. 
  • Fill any holes or deep nicks with wood filler or spackling. Let dry.
  • Lay down a drop cloth to protect the ground and floor before painting.

2. Apply an Even Coat of Primer

  • Cover the door with a coat of primer following the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Use a paint brush to get in the grooves and trim work, then a roller for the smooth surfaces. 
  • Let primer dry completely.

3. Paint the Door with Multiple Coats

  • Paint the detailed areas with a brush once the primer dries.
  • Use a low-nap or foam roller to paint the flat areas. 
  • Cover the entire surface with at least two thin coats of paint.
  • Achieve a “hand-painted” look by running your brush over the flat surfaces while they’re wet.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dry time. 

Behr Logo“Be sure to apply multiple thin coats and give ample time for drying in between. Applying paint in thin coats will give you a uniform finish. It will also reduce your dry and recoat time, as one thick coat takes much longer to dry than two or three thin coats.”

Octave Villar | Applications Lab Manager, BEHR

Depending on the color of your new door, you may want to paint the surrounding trim. You can paint the frame the same color as the door itself or use another color that fits your design.

How to paint the door frame:

  • Sand imperfections with fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Fill holes or nicks with caulk.
  • Wipe away dust and debris.
  • Use painter’s tape to protect siding.
  • Cover with a coat of primer.
  • Paint evenly with a 2-inch angled paint brush.

4. Reinstall the Door and Accessories

  • Rehang the door once dry if necessary. 
  • Replace your hardware.
  • Peel away painter’s tape.
  • Clean glass windows if applicable.
  • Remove drop cloth and sweep up debris.

Enjoy Your Freshly Painted Front Door!

Accent your new door color with a welcome mat or potted plants in contrasting hues, pull up your favorite chair, pour yourself a cold drink – and relax!

Ready to paint the rest of your home’s exterior? Looking for yard cleanup tips? Browse the For the Home section of our blog for DIY projects, home organization advice and more!