How to Paint a Door

How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comEach time I tackle a painting project, I get a LOT of questions in regard to my method. Paint is an easy, inexpensive way to transform your home, but the process can sometimes be confusing. I paint a lot of doors around here and it seems like many of you would like to know more about what that process looks like, based on the influx of questions and messages I’ve been receiving lately. Consider this your super-detailed tutorial and guide for achieving beautiful painted doors… without the brush marks! I’m breaking down the tools, paint type, drying time, and more…

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How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comThis is our guest bedroom door. Emmett just replaced our old builder-grade door with this beauty! If it looks familiar, that’s probably because it’s the same style we used in the guest bathroom renovation. One by one, we’ll replace all of the doors throughout our home with this three-panel style. That means, as we cross projects off our to-do list, I’ll be painting a lot of doors. Before we dive into the painting tutorial, check out this post for more information on how I select interior doors and hardware.

How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comTo get started, gather up your tools. These are my preferred tools for the job…


How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comA few tips before you start painting your door…

  1. Use a QUALITY, self-leveling paint. Emerald Interior is always my preferred choice.
  2. Use a durable and visually pleasing finish for doors and millwork… my preference is semi-gloss.
  3. Test swatches before committing to a color.

How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comStep 1 // Clean the door. My door arrived pre-primed, so the only thing I needed to do in terms of prep was to wash it with a degreasing dish soap and rinse with a clean, damp cloth to remove any soap residue. I scuff sanded to make sure there were no imperfections in the primer coat and wiped the dust off with a clean, damp rag.

How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comStep 2 // Mix up your paint and get started. Even if you just purchased your paint, give it a quick stir to make sure the color is evenly incorporated. You want to minimize any streaking or color differentiation.

How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comStep 3 // Begin with the brush. I use my brush to get into the paneled areas. I also paint around the hinges and hardware (if it isn’t removed). This paint has excellent coverage, so no need to apply in thick layers. You’ll be able to see brush marks while you’re painting, but as the paint dries (especially in a semi-gloss finish)– it will level out, don’t worry!

How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comStep 4 // Bring out the roller. After you’ve brushed the difficult areas, it’s time to roll. High density foam rollers are specifically made for cabinetry and doors. They leave no texture and as a result, the paint dries very smooth. Roll the paint on the flat portions of the door in thin, even layers.

How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comStep 5 // Allow the paint to completely dry… then repeat. Once the door is covered in layer one, allow it to completely dry before repeating the steps (Emerald calls out four hours before recoating). I typically like to apply two coats before calling it done. Again- Emerald Interior has very good coverage and is super durable.

If the first layer looks splotchy as it dries, don’t panic…  the second coat will even everything out! You also can’t judge the texture or finish until it’s totally dry. This is how my finished painted door looked…

How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comIsn’t the color SO pretty? Halcyon Green SW 6213 is my new favorite light green (click here for my other favorite green paint colors). It was really hard to capture the correct color because the light in this bedroom floods in, changes often, and was reflecting off the trees which are also changing colors right now for fall. It looks more green in person!

I photoshopped some door casing in, so you could get a better visual of how it will look once we’re finished with carpentry. I’m trying to decide if I should go Extra White SW 7006 (my go-to white for trim), or keep it the same as the door color (photoshopped below). I’m thinking I’ll keep it all the same, or monochromatic!Our closet doors for this room got delayed, but as soon as they arrive, I’ll have four more doors to paint, then I’ll move onto millwork and wallpaper. Here’s to hoping we can finish this room before the holiday season.

How to Paint a Door - roomfortuesday.comAny questions on painting doors? Or painting questions, in general? Leave them for me in the comments below! Painting is actually a really fun and relaxing project I don’t mind doing. Anyone else? I think because it’s instant gratification! Lucky for me, I have a LOT of doors to paint over the course of the next couple years. Haha!

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  1. Love the green! It really highlights that beautiful hardware. I definitely vote for green trim! I should probably use this as inspiration because I have a few doors that could really use a fresh coat of paint…Happy Monday!

  2. Hi Sarah, Have you ever painted doors that were previously stained ? If so can you spell out the preliminary steps?

  3. What do you do with the border of the door where it meets the trim? We had our doors painted and now they stick every time they open? Just wondering for next time! Thanks!!

  4. Does This also apply to exterior doors? Do I need to apply a poly to the top to prevent scratching?

  5. Beautiful door, color, and hardware!! I’ve got a million-feels like-doors to paint. We replaced all the doors in our house. I’m curious if the paint roller works the same on doors with that grain texture? I thought I would have to take them all down to paint so seeing you paint in place is 👍. Do you do anything different when painting exterior doors other than using an exterior paint? Thank you so much for the tutorial!

  6. When painting bedroom doors do you paint both sides or just the inside door.

  7. I love that color! Do you use the Emerald Interior for trim too, or do you have other suggestions for good trim paint? My husband and I bought a 1920s house with all original trim (that needs a fresh coat of paint). We’ve only painted one room so far, and I’m not really happy with the trim paint we used (didn’t cover or level well), so I’m trying to decide what to use for the rest of the house.

  8. Hi. What do you recommend to do differently if your door already has paint? Just prime and paint over? Or strip first?

  9. Hi Sarah, what finish is the door knob?

    1. Hi Ann! It’s vintage brass.

  10. Hi, I’ve noticed two different styles of door panels on your blog all 3 panels but different design. Is one style from a previous home or do you have two styles in your current home? ie. the style in the colorblock hallway and the style in the guest bathroom

    1. Yes, exactly! The color blocked hallway was in our previous home… the square 3 panel doors are in our current home. Hope that helps to clarify!

      1. Your antique brass Door hardware are to die for. Do you have photos of the levers on the closet doors in your home?

        1. I don’t have close ups, but you can see them in some of my room reveal posts :)