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Tips for Painting Exterior Door Surfaces

Tips for Painting Exterior Door Surfaces

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January 26, 2007

Painting exterior door surfaces is an easy project for most homeowners.  It can usually be completed in one weekend and sometimes even in a single day.  The amount of time it will take depends on the type of door, the amount of surface preparation required, and other issues or problems that sometimes pop up during a home repair project.  We'll focus on the two most common types of exterior doors - steel and wood.  The processes are similar, but not exactly the same.

When painting exterior door surfaces of a steel door, pay close attention to the kind of paint that is already on the door.  If the existing paint is oil based then you can apply either oil based or latex paint for the new coat.  However, if the existing paint is latex paint, you must use latex paint for the new coat because oil based paint. If you try to use oil based paint it will not work.  Most painting experts recommend that you use the highest quality 100% acrylic latex paint possible because it is the most durable and can be applied over any type of existing paint. 

Painting Exterior Door

Surface preparation is the next step, because if the surface is not clean and free of debris or loose paint then the new coat will not adhere properly.  You also need to rough up the surface of the old door with sandpaper to get the best bond between the new paint and the old surface.

With wood doors, you have two basic choices to make - do you want to paint it or stain it?  If you choose stain, then the surface should be cleaned, sanded, and smooth before applying stain.  If you choose paint then the surface must also be prepared according to the aforementioned way. It is also essential that any old paint be scraped off. Depending on the color you are applying and the old color already on the door, you may need to put a coat of primer on first.  This is nearly always an extra step that is well worth the time it takes, because the top color will look better and the paint will be more durable over time.  Regardless of the type of door you have - wood or steel - the easiest method of painting exterior door surfaces is to lay the door flat on two saw horses.

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