Whether you’re getting ready to put your house on the market, or you’re just bored with your home’s exterior, a simple solution for a cheap, quick, DIY spruce-up is to paint your front door. Adding a punch of color through paint can make a significant improvement if you choose an interesting color.
Here’s a before picture of my front door. Boring, dirty and scratched with some dings thrown in for good measure. Unsightly at best. But we’re gonna fix that.
My house is a neutral color with white trim. Just makes me sleepy looking at it. On the other hand, I’m a bit leery about using too crazy of a color since it’s on the outside of my house for the world to see. I narrow my choices to these three. Unfortunately, the colors aren’t true in this photo, and are a little more vibrant in actuality. If you have a neutral colored house, these three are all great color choices because they stray from the ho-hum white, black and red. They’re unique colors for a front door, but are a little on the muted side so they aren’t too gaudy. These colors are from Sherwin Williams, and the three runners up are–Underseas, Moody Blue and Exclusive Plum. Sort of green, sort of blue and sort of purple.
And the winner is…..Exclusive Plum! (Applause, whistles.) Honestly, the hardest part of the whole process is picking the color. Just remember the beauty of paint is if you don’t like it, you can just repaint. No biggy.
First things first. The key to a professional-looking paint job is always in the preparation. If you don’t take the necessary steps to prep your door, your neighbors may take one look, and wonder why you turned your kindergartener loose with a paintbrush.
This door has some dings and scratches that need to be fixed before painting. If they aren’t repaired, it would be like repainting a wrecked car without fixing the dents first. Yes. Just like that. Not very professional to be sure. Here’s some of what needs to be fixed on this door.
The appropriate product to fix dings in a metal door is Bondo, but I don’t want to invest in that when I have my handy, dandy cure all on hand. Durabond. For more information on Durabond, refer to my post, “Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets“. I’m guessing you could use spackle as well, since it will be coated with exterior primer and exterior paint to protect it. Also, this particular door is under a covered porch, and is protected by a storm door, so Durabond or spackle will certainly do the trick.
Here’s how the imperfections look with a coat of Durabond on them. After it dries, I sand and am ready to go.
Now the door hardware needs to be removed. It’s difficult to get a good result with brush strokes around the door knob or with paint globed all over your deadbolt. Take a few extra minutes, and just remove the hardware to keep that blood pressure under control. Trust me on this one. It’s generally just two screws. I’m sure you can handle that!
Next, use an old brush to remove any loose particles that are inside the now-vacant holes. This eliminates picking up particles with the paint roller, and bringing them into the fresh paint on your door. (Another blood-pressure-raiser.)
The final step before painting is to lightly sand the door to remove any lumps or bumps, and then wipe off the sanding dust with a brush or wet rag, paying close attention to the panels. The door needs to be clean and dust-free in order for the paint to adhere.
Here’s the product from Sherwin Williams that I’m using for my project. A quart is more than enough.
Here’s what you don’t want to do. You don’t want to paint weather stripping as you can see here that the previous painter did. Paint won’t stick to it since it’s flexible, and then you’ll have ugly, flaking weather stripping on your beautiful door like I do. All you have to do to prevent such a nasty problem is run a piece of masking tape over it to keep your paint off of it. Unfortunately, since there’s already paint on this one, I now either have to paint over the old paint or replace the weather stripping. I opt for painting over it for now, and may replace it at a later date.
A mini roller cover that is made of a knit rather than a nylon is what I like to use because it leaves very little texture. This one was purchased at Sherwin Williams. I also use a 2 inch angled brush for cutting in areas that can’t be reached with a roller, like the corners of the inset panels on the face of the door.
Now we can finally begin to paint! You’ll need to use primer for your first coat, and you’ll want to do your door edge first. (I’m using a gray tinted primer that I had on hand since my door’s going to be a darker color.) The only edge you paint is the hinge side. The other edge stays the inside door color. That’s just proper door etiquette.
My tip for painting the hinge side is keep the paint off the hinges, for goodness sakes. If you know your agility with a paintbrush is, let’s say, a one on a scale of one to ten, do your door (and the people who purchase your house after you) a favor and cover the hinges with masking tape first so you’re sure not to get paint on them. Simply remove the tape when you’re all finished. Paint on door hinges is a no-no. (More etiquette.)
So to paint the edge of the door, very carefully cut in around the hinges with a brush, and quickly roll through any paint that makes its way onto the front of the door. If you don’t roll through it, you’ll have a line of dried paint that you won’t be able to get rid of. Let me stress this point—I paint only about six inches of the edge of the door, and then quickly roll through the paint that laps over onto the front of the door. If you wait until you’ve painted the whole edge of the door and then go back and roll through the paint on the front of the door afterwards, it’ll be too late to get rid of the lumps and bumps. After you’ve finished the hinge side, check the inside of the door to be sure paint doesn’t seep around the corner onto the other side. If it does, a wet rag will take it right off.
Here’s my door with the edge primed. Excitement is building.
Next come the panels. The key here is to work very quickly so you don’t have globs and brush strokes. You gotta paint like a Ninja now. First you quickly brush just one panel so you can get into the corners where you can’t get with the mini roller. Don’t worry what it looks like because you’re going to roll over it right away. Here’s what it will look like right after you brush it. I know. It’s ugly.
Now I quickly roll over it so it looks like this. Much better now.
Same thing here.
Ditto for the area around the peep hole. Don’t paint over your peep hole, or you won’t be able to see those nasty solicitors. Side note: Peep holes are simple to install. I’ve put one in every door to every house I’ve ever owned. They’re a life saver. Sort of like having caller ID on your front door.
After the panels have been primed, you’ll want to cut in with a brush at the top of the door on the hinge side if your door won’t open all the way flat because there’s a wall behind it. If you don’t, you’ll end up hitting the trim around your door with your roller trying to get that corner.
Next, brush the bottom of the door (then quickly roll through it as well) just because it’ll make your life easier when rolling the main part of the door.
Here’s what the door looks like now.
Now the rest of the door is ready to be rolled out. If you see chunks in your wet primer or paint, don’t leave them on the door thinking no one will notice them!! They will be noticed. Pick them off, and quickly re-roll that spot. This little guy was promptly removed.
After the primer dries completely, follow the same steps with the paint as with the primer. I add some water to my latex paint, so it doesn’t leave a heavy texture. Do not add water to your paint if it’s oil/alkyd or you’ll have quite the mess on your hands. If you use oil, you’ll want to thin it down with mineral spirits. Important tip: You should be able to see through your first coat, and if you can’t, you’re probably putting your paint on too heavy. If you put it on too heavy, you’ll have a sticky door for a very long time. A very long time. Note the difference here between one coat, and two coats.
So here we go again. To be clear, I use one coat of primer, and then two coats of finish paint. You’ll especially need primer if you have patches. Without it, your patches will show through your two coats of paint.
Also, it’s a huge plus if you can paint on a day when the weather’s nice, and the humidity isn’t like that of a rain forest. I also left my door open all day to dry since I have a storm door to keep the bugs out. The longer you can go without closing the door, the better.
Before and after pics. What a difference a day (and quart of paint) makes!
I painted my front door on July 4th because the weather was fantastic that day. A very special thank you to all of our devoted men and women who serve in the military. Thank you Veterans!
This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.