Painting a Door

Painting a Door


My front door has been an eyesore since the day we moved in. It was sporting a flat coat of burgundy paint that was applied in a sloppy manner, so there was paint on the window panes, door knob and knocker. And there were places where the undercoat of paint was still visible. It wasn’t a great first impression when entering the house. So, I did what I always do – I painted it. First black, then a refresher coat of satin black and then I changed it to red for a photoshoot. The final coat of red paint was a disaster. With so many coats of paint along with bubbles of sap that have seeped to the surface…it was to the point where it needed to be stripped and refinished to really look good. Given the fact that you could see daylight in a few places through the door, I decided it was time to replace it. (And a better option than spending hours stripping away who-knows-how-many coats of paint!)

I purchased an unfinished wood door that fits the style of our home perfectly. It’s a two-panel door with six small windows. I decided to paint the front of the door black and finish the back (inside) in a dark walnut stainand tung oil. Since I have a brand new door and a clean slate, I wanted to make sure it was done right.

I went to Cashman’s True Value Hardwarestore in East Berlin, PA, to chat with the folks there about what products would be best for me to use. I know a lot about paint, but there are always new prodcuts on the market, so it’s a great idea to ask the people behind the counter to make sure you’re getting the very best product to achieve the very best results. I knew I wanted to use an oil based paint. It’s not my favorite to work with, but it really is the best for the durability needed for a front door.

Since I was painting over raw wood, I needed to use a quality primer. I’ve used Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3on several projects and have always liked the way it performs. It is a waterbased primer, but you can paint over it with oil based paints (or latex, acrylic, etc. if that’s what you’re using.) I’m painting the door in black and the primer was white, so I asked the Hardwarian at True Value to add some tint to it to make it a dark gray. That’ll help me get better coverage on my first coat of paint.

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer  

I started out by sanding any rough spots on the door followed by wiping it down with a cotton cloth.

wiping down door  

Since I only wanted to paint the front of the door, I taped off the sides. The door is new, so the window panes have a sticky plastic coating protecting them and I didn’t need to tape them off. If you’re painting a door you already have, it’s a good idea to take it off the hinges and remove or tape off the hardware. I know that’s a pain and I’ve been known to paint many doors on the hinges, but it’s definitely not the best way and the extra prep work does make a difference in the quality of the final result.

taping door edges  

I used a new 2 ½” angled sash brush with nylon bristles to apply the primer. A new brush will give a nice, clean edge for cutting in around the windows and trim and the angle makes it easier to get into the corners. Since primer can be a pain to wash off skin, I’ve trained myself to wear some disposable gloves to protect my hands.

painting door with paint brush  

Always apply paint with the grain of the wood and in long, smooth strokes. A quality brush and careful application really makes a difference with getting a smooth finish.

painting door with paint brush  
painting door with paint brush  
painting door  

I allowed the primer to dry per the manufacturer’s instructions and cracked open the can of paint. This time, I’m using a 2” angled sash brush with natural bristles. A natural bristle brush is best with oil based paints. Since I am using a brand new brush, I like to pull on the bristles a bit to get out as many loose ones as I can, so they don’t end up painted to the door.

paint brush  

For the paint, I’m using Rust-oleum Protective Enamel in Semi-Gloss Black.

black semi-gloss Rust-oleum Protective Enamel  

Just like I did with the primer, I applied the paint in long, smooth strokes. The nice thing about oil is that it dries slowly, so there is lots of time to work with it. It also levels itself pretty well, so brush strokes are minimal. The dry time is longer and it’s a lot stinkier than latex or acrylic, but the end result and durability are worth it.

painting door  

Because I had the primer tinted gray, one coat of paint was almost enough, but not quite. I allowed the first coat to dry for 24 hours and then applied a second coat of paint. The cleanup for oil based paint is messy, so I just throw away the brush and use a new one for the second coat. The brush can be cleaned with mineral spirits if you prefer that method.

Most paint takes approximately 30 days to reach a hard cure. I would give the door about 12-24 hours to dry before hanging it. Just be gentle with it through the 30 day period.

Take a look at the finished product with the new polished brass handle, which looks amazing against the glossy black paint.

finished painted door  

One more project off the check list!

I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

For more tips on painting doors check out True Value’s project guide, Paint Doors.

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