Leftovers With Annie: How To Paint An Exterior Door

Featured Video Play Icon

Painting a front door is a great way to welcome guests and keep your door looking good through weather and daily wear and tear.

How To Paint An Exterior Door

Watch as Annie from our YouTube show, "Leftovers With Annie" shows you a great way to welcome color outside of your home.


You can remove the door and paint or leave it on, it's really up to you on what you're comfortable with for a project at this scale.  To paint a door when still hanging place a drop cloth underneath.  The last thing you want is having paint get on your floors and having it tracked across your home.  Next, tape off the hinges, hardware and any windows with quality painter's tape.   Using a sanding sponge remove any loose or peeling paint that resides on the door.


Fill in any cracks or dings to ensure a smooth finish on the painted door.  On a wood door, use wood putty or wood filler. Use an epoxy patch product on a fiberglass door. When selecting an epoxy patch, be sure to get one that will work on a fiberglass door. There are many options out there from plumbing to automotive.    Let it dry and then use a sanding sponge to even out the patch product you've applied. Next, use a 180 grit sandpaper on a palm sander to lightly sand down your wood door.  This will scuff the surface so the new paint can adhere to the wood door.  Smooth out any imperfections in the door with the palm sander, especially if you are painting with a glossy sheen.

Wash It

Wash the door with a cup of TSP and a bucket of water and let it dry.  TSP helps paint adhere by cleaning and degreasing the surface.  Let the door dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Prime It

Select a primer that is made for exterior use.  On a wood door or one that has been painted before you can use an exterior paint and primer in one.  On a bare metal door use a rust preventative latex or oil based primer. On a bare fiberglass door use a latex bonding primer sealer.

Paint It

Start by cutting around hinges, knobs and hardware with a brush.  An angle sash brush is perfect for those areas.  If your door has panels or windows, work from the top down in those areas.  Use a roller on flat areas of the door and make sure you roll in the same direction as the grain.  First, paint the center of any panel. Then paint the vertical piece running up the center of the door.  The horizontal sections of the door are next.  Followed by the outer edges. The sides of the door are saved for last. If you have one color in the inside and another color on the outside you want the door to appear to be all one color as it opens. So, for the door that swings to the inside paint the hinge edge with the outside color. The edge with the knobs and the locks should be the same as the inside color.  After the paint is dry apply a second coat for an even finish and you're done!  Make sure the second coat dries before closing the door. Avoid adding any hooks or wreaths to the door for 24 hours.

Published on 3/23/21
Always follow manufacturer's instructions before using any product.
For more helpful tips and advice, visit a neighborhood Ace or visit us online at acehardware.com
These “How-To’s” are provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in Ace Hardware’s “how-to” videos and/or articles is intended to provide general guidelines for projects in and outside of your home.  Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes, local regulations are continually changing. Ace Hardware assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained herein and disclaims any liability for the omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. It is the responsibility of the viewer to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes and regulations for a project and the product being used. The viewer must always take proper safety precautions and exercise caution when taking on any project or using materials of said project. If you have any questions, concerns or doubts in regards to any element of what is displayed in the videos and/or articles, contact a licensed professional.