A guide to painting your doors

Posted: 3 Nov, 2016.

Paint your doors like a professional 

As with anything, the time and trouble you take over painting a door – whether it is external or internal – will make a huge difference to the overall finish. If you want to avoid the tell-tale drips, brush marks and poor finish of an amateur paint job, here is how to paint like a pro.

The ideal place to paint a door

Choose somewhere that is well-ventilated and free of dust, with good natural light. It doesn’t matter what time of day you start, although bear in mind that the light will fade as sunset approaches, and this will vary depending on the time of year. If you are painting outside, check that there is no rain forecast or dampness in the air as this will hinder the drying process.

Lay the door flat

The best way to paint a door is to remove it from the frame, take off all the ironmongery and fittings and lie it down flat on a sturdy surface, such as a tressel table. If it is a new door, it is best to fit it first to ensure that it is the right size before you go ahead and paint it.  Read our helpful How to Fit an internal door and external door guides for more information.

Preparing a door before painting

Prepare the door

If you can’t remove the door fittings then mask them carefully with masking tape, and also cover any glazed areas. Most new glazed doors will come with a paint and peel film already in place. For older doors use masking tape and newspaper. 

Prepare the door for painting before you begin by filling any holes using a good quality wood filler. Sand and de-nib the entire surface of the door and then wipe it down with a damp cloth. Treat any knots with a knotting product to seal them and avoid resin seeping out over time.

Many new doors are already primed so you can proceed straight to the top coat.  If not, use a good quality primer and refer to manufacturer’s instructions for drying times.

If you are painting an unfinished timber door, apply a coat of primer or sealant sparingly and allow it to dry thoroughly before applying the top coat/s of your chosen paint or varnish. 

Number of coats

Painting an internal door

The number of coats of paint you will need will vary depending on the quality of the paint you are using and your personal preference. Typically, two coats should suffice but you may prefer to use more. 

Drying times

Drying times vary depending on a range of factors, including: the quality and type of paint or varnish you use; the environment you are painting in and the surface you are painting. Water-based paints will dry quicker – usually within three or four hours. Solvent-based paint requires significantly longer to dry. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for drying times and don’t overcoat too soon. As a rule of thumb, two coats of water-based paint should dry within a day in good conditions. 

It is a good idea to avoid extremes of temperature when painting. Paint will not dry in cold conditions and if the weather is too hot it is likely to affect the final finish.

Choosing the paint for your door

Choosing the right paint will be determined by the location of the door (internal or external), the level of protection you need and your personal preference. It is worth getting advice from a specialist paint supplier. Bear in mind, too, the age and style of the property, the amount of use that the door gets and the colour and finish that will match your chosen décor.

Brushes or rollers

The choice between rollers or brushes comes down to personal preference. Rollers are generally easier but it’s worth speaking to your paint supplier. Don’t forget to paint the top and bottom edges of the door and you may wish to use a detail brush for smaller areas. Paint smoothly and carefully using even strokes and do not overload the brush or roller. Sand between coats and then wipe down with a damp cloth before applying the next coat.

It goes without saying that you should wait until the paint is thoroughly dry before attempting to re-hang it to avoid destroying your beautiful handiwork.

Taking a thorough approach will ensure you can enjoy your professionally-painted door for many years to come.

For more information on doors and door-related matters, visit our Info Centre.

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