Pro Tips for Painting Interior Doors

Pro Tips for Painting Interior Doors

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

– Alexander Graham Bell

No one wants to look regretfully at their door! We know that Bell wasn’t talking about the door’s actual appearance, but we are, and we’re going to walk you through making your door look fantastic.

Prep for Painting

The folks at Home Depot know what it takes to get an interior door ready for painting, and here are some of the steps they set out for us:

  • Remove the knobs and all other hardware
  • Clean the door with a degreasing cleanser
  • Fill any holes and repair any damage with sandable filler or spackle
  • Sand the door with 120-grit sandpaper, which will help the surface absorb primer or paint. (If you are painting a door that still has paint from the 1980s or before, test for lead before sanding and take appropriate precautions if necessary.)
  • Remove dust from the area so that it doesn’t get into the wet paint
  • Put down drop cloths

After this, you’ll need to decide whether the door needs to be primed or not. If the door is new and unprimed, it will need a coat of primer. When it was originally painted with latex paint, you shouldn’t need a primer. If the door was painted with oil-based paint and you’re planning on repainting with latex paint, you’ll need to prime it before painting. (If you’re not sure about the original paint, test with a rag moistened with rubbing alcohol. However, if it removes the paint, it is latex paint. If it doesn’t do anything, it’s oil-based paint.)

Then it’s on to the fun part – picking the paint! If you have white trim and you want your door to also be white, it’s best to use the same paint as you used on the trim, or at least color-match the white. But there’s no need to stick with white. Greys are both timeless and timely, and you can easily find a grey that suits the rest of your home’s décor and palette.

And Away We Go

You’ll want to be sure to paint all six sides of your door to prevent cracking, rotting, and expansion from moisture, which could prevent the door from closing tightly. If you’re not motivated to make the bottom edge picture-perfect, use a clear wood sealant instead.

Flat doors, either hung or unhung, are the easiest to paint. You can use either a roller or a brush to cover the surface with long, smooth strokes. Then use a small brush to finish the edges and around the hinge area. Repeat on the other side. If it looks as though a second coat is needed, sand the door lightly, wipe it down with a tack cloth, and repeat.

For a panel door, experts recommend using a brush instead of a roller and painting in this order: panel grooves, panels, vertical center stile (if there is one), horizontal rails, vertical stiles (from left to right, if you’re right-handed), edges. Repeat on the other side.

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