Paint a Wooden Front Door

Spruce up your faded wooden front door with a fresh coat of paint, and restore your home’s warm, inviting appeal.


Step 1: Remove the door and all of the hardware. Wedge a chisel or flathead screwdriver in the joints between the hinges and the top of the hinge pins, then lightly tap the screwdriver handle with a hammer until the hinge pins come loose. Pull out all the pins, and then have someone help you carry the door outside to a pair of sawhorses. Use a Phillips-head screwdriver to remove the rest of the hardware, being careful not to strip the screw holes.

Door paint can take some time to dry, so make sure that you have a temporary replacement to protect your house. You can use an existing storm door or even a large piece of plywood, which will help keep out insects.

Step 2: Old wooden doors need sanding and priming. If you brush a new coat over an old paint job, it will result in a sloppy-looking finish. To get a smooth working surface, scrape off any peeling pieces and sand down the old paint until the surface of the door feels even all over. Start with a medium 120-grit piece of sandpaper, and then work your way up to 220 grit. If the door still feels rough to the touch, finish with a fine-grade 320-grit paper. Always wear a dust mask and safety goggles when sanding.

If the door has cracks, repair them by dabbing small amounts of caulk onto the cracks and working the caulk in with a putty knife. Let the caulk dry, then sand the repaired spots until they’re smooth.

Good to Know: Get rid of any dust from sanding before priming. Vacuum away extra dust, and wipe the door with a tack cloth. Dampen the cloth with mineral spirits to remove stubborn dust.

Step 3: Apply paint and primer in a dust-free area so that no particles ruin the door surface.

Brush on a single coat of primer with a wide paintbrush, covering the front and all side edges of the door. Primer prevents the door from absorbing moisture and helps smooth out its texture. Once the primer has dried on the front of the door, flip the door over to prime the back. If the primer drips or goes on chunky, lightly sand the surface to smooth it out.

Step 4: Once the primer has dried completely, stir your paint. Paint the door from the top down, using a wide brush for corners or crevices and a small roller for flat panels. Make long strokes with the brush, and clean any visible lines on the front door with a dry cloth. Just as with the primer, let each side of the door dry before turning it over to work on the other side. Add at least two coats of paint to the door, using three or more if you want to increase colour saturation.

Step 5: Let your front door dry before reinstallation. Once the paint no longer feels tacky to the touch, replace all hardware and have someone help you reattach the door to its frame with the hinge pins. Align the hinges together while replacing the pins.



  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • 2 Sawhorses
  • Phillips-Head Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • Dust Mask
  • Safety Goggles
  • Caulk
  • Putty Knife
  • Tack Cloth
  • Wide Paintbrush
  • Exterior Paint
  • Small Paint Roller


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