How to Paint a Front Door

painted front door with text "how to paint your front door" overlaid

Why you Should Learn How to Paint a Front Door

If you want to make a change to the exterior of your home, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money painting your front door is a great option. Learning how to paint your front door is a great skill to have. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to repaint your front door and it’s a great way to add a pop of color or personality to your home.

Choosing a Color to Paint a Front Door – Inspiration

If you’re thinking about painting your front door, I encourage you to start looking at other homes in your neighborhood or on Pinterest. What colors do you like? Do you like bold turquoise? Maybe a robin’s egg blue? A house in our neighborhood has a pink door and it looks so good! Maybe you’re more reserved and want to go with a simple black?

I also encourage you to look at homes that have similar colors to yours. That pink door looks great on my neighbor’s white house, but would look horrible against my light brown brick. You can Google or Pinterest search “blue front door with yellow brick” to get ideas.

Skyline Steel by Sherwin Williams paint sample

If you are extra stuck, you can also look at coordinating colors for a paint color you may already have on your house. We painted our soffits Skyline Steel by Sherwin Williams and one of the coordinating colors they have is Secret Cove, which is where I started.

red door with three painted swatches, gray, light blue, and light green

Choosing a Color – Test Samples

You need to test samples on your door! If you go to any hardware store you can ask for samples of each color you’re thinking about. They are usually around $3 and absolutely worth testing first. If you are still going through a lot of different ideas, just pick up a bunch of the free sample chips. Tape them all over the door, stand back, and you should be able to immediately decide which colors won’t work for you.

I thought I would maybe go gray. I painted a sample and immediately thought absolutely not. The Secret Cove color also looked a little too baby blue for me, so I went one shade darker. (Edit: I painted this door during Covid when it was hard to pick up samples. I wasn’t able to get a sample for the color we chose for this post and I didn’t end up loving the color. I painted it again a year later. Save yourself time and pick a color you love!)

Choosing a color can be HARD. It doesn’t seem like it would be, but color looks different in the morning and afternoon. It will look different based on its surroundings. A paint chip sample may look totally different when actually painted on your door. Colors on your computer screen will also look absolutely different in person. Do you think Secret Cove painted on my door looks like the paint color in the image above the door? The difference absolutely shocked me.

Silken Peacock by Sherwin Williams

opened paint can lid with blue paint on it

We ended up trying Silken Peacock by Sherwin Williams. It is one shade darker than Secret Cove. We thought that Secret Cove looked a little too baby blue on our door. They also didn’t have any more sample paint at the store, so I just spent $20 for a quart of exterior paint and went for it.

I don’t mean to scare you with all this, but to encourage you to just take the leap and just paint your door. It is almost impossible to predict what the color will look like once it’s fully painted on your door. Just take a deep breath, paint the door, and if you hate it, paint it again.


painting supplies on ground: paint brush, roller, can opener, mixing stick, painters tape, and sandpaper
  • Exterior Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • 6 Inch Roller (if you have large even sections)
  • Tape (optional)
  • Sandpaper

Clean & Prep your Front Door for Painting

cleaning red door with blue rag.

Before you paint your front door you absolutely have to clean and prep it. You want to paint directly over old paint and not over dust or grime. If you don’t adequately clean your door the paint won’t adhere well and may bubble and peel in the following years. Take ten minutes to wipe down your door with a good soap and give it a rinse with a hose.

You may also want to sand away old paint drips, dings, or any other unevenness on your door. If there are deep scratches, you may want to fill them in. For best results, you should paint a smooth and clean door.

When to Paint a Front Door

Unless you have a storm door you have to be a little picky about WHEN you choose to paint your front door. When you paint your front door you will have to leave it open for a few hours for the paint to dry. Timing this can be tricky, but I have some suggestions.

First off, you have to paint it during a time when you’re okay with having the door open. Heating, cooling, and bugs can be an issue here. February in Ohio is not a good idea. Neither is August. Check the back of your paint can, it will have temperature minimums and maximums that you can paint during.

I encourage you to close your door and paint just what you can see for the first coat. That way you will have an idea if you actually like the paint and I use it as a bit of a “warm up” for my painting skills. I painted our first coat at around 7PM.

You have to let the paint dry several hours before you can do a second coat. (Check your paint can!) I decided to paint the next morning because I knew I would have to leave the door open and early morning was a time when bugs and my child were the least active.

front door opened with baby gate in place, cat looking curiously out of the gate

I put up a gate in our doorway to keep our cats/child in, opened the door, and got to work. My paint said it was dry to the touch after two hours. I painted the edges first and then the inside. This allowed the edges to start drying as I was painting the door.

Tape or Cut In?

paint brush painting the bottom edge of the door

If you feel like taping, go for it. I personally don’t like taping. Whenever I’ve done it, I find that the paint bubbles under it and bleeds through the tape. I feel like I can’t trust it to do its job and it also takes time to tape before painting.

If you want to skip taping, you can try “cutting in”. You press the paint brush onto the surface and bring it just to the edge of where you want to paint. I always keep a damp rag in my other hand while I’m painting. If I get paint on the door knob for example, I just wipe it away while the paint is still wet. The result is a super clean line, without any prep!

Take off Hardware

close up of lock and handle on door being painted around

At this point you will have to decide whether or not to take off the door handle and lock. I don’t suggest going to bed or leaving the house without putting it back on. Plan accordingly.

I painted around the hardware, which worked out perfectly fine.

Before you Start – A Few Painting Tips

  • Read the can. Your paint will only adhere as well as you read and follow the directions. Follow their dry times and temperature suggestions!
  • Avoid getting paint drips and small “puddles” on the moulding. Make sure that everything brushes smooth.
  • The paint will start drying as soon as you apply it. If you brush over it and it starts to get gummy or really shows your brush strokes, stop and you will have to come back to it on the next coat.
  • Always try to work from a wet spot. Meaning you want to blend the area you’re going to paint into the area you just painted. Don’t hop around from place to place on the door.
  • If you ever spill latex paint USE WATER. Once it dries it becomes so much harder to get off. Use a wet rag or if you’re outside and have access to a hose, hose it down into the grass or something that won’t be stained. I dropped and broke open a sample container all over my patio. I scooped up what I could and then used a hose.
  • You will probably need a second, maybe a third coat of paint. Wait for the suggested amount of time before painting again. If you are having issues keeping your door open, you can do the second or third coat with only the parts of the door that show when it’s closed. Makes things a little easier.

Finally, Let’s Paint

swatch of new blue paint painted on red door

If you have a door that has larger sections of flat area, you can roll these areas. Rolling gives a smoother more even look without the risk of having brush strokes. I would choose a smaller roller, around 6 inch. You can wrap it in cling wrap between coats to prevent it from drying out.

You should use a paint brush to paint over the moulding and any other tricky areas that you aren’t able to roll. Because my door has moulding and a large glass pane, I didn’t really think there were many areas that I would easily be able to roll. So I just painted everything with a paint brush. Do what you gotta do!

Once your first coat is dry, evaluate. The paint may need a little bit more time to dry depending on your conditions and you may want to sand if your paint seems a little streaky.

Final Thoughts

final view of the porch with new painted blue door, bench, hanging basket, mailbox, and light.

Take a step back to the front of your yard and take a look at your hard work! Maybe you made a big change and went bold or for a totally different color. Just take a moment to observe without judgement. Sometimes these bigger changes take a while to sink in.

At first I didn’t like our door color. It was a big change from the previous red. I thought it would turn out more teal and gray. I gave it some time. Facetimed some family members and had a few neighbors comment on how much they loved the new color. After a few days it started to grow on me.

Painting the front door was an easy and cheap project. I will probably get a new idea and paint it again, and again, and again. I asked my husband how many layers of paint the door could probably handle. He just smiled and shook his head and walked away.

(Update: I did in fact paint it again a year later. I wanted a color that was a more of a deeper blue. I ended up using Endless Sea by Sherwin Williams and I love it!)

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