How to Paint a Metal Front Door

Metal front doors are durable, secure, and attractive. But over time, they can lose their shine and appeal due to weathering, fading, or chipping. You can restore your metal front door’s beauty and charm by giving it a fresh coat of paint. Here’s how to do it.

What You’ll Need

  • Foam roller
  • 2-inch brush
  • Sanding block
  • Sawhorses (or 2×4 blocks and a table)
  • Screwdriver
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth
  • Metal primer (or direct-to-metal paint)
  • Exterior paint (oil-based or acrylic-latex)
  • Paint tray
  • Mineral spirits (for oil-based paint) or soap and water (for acrylic-latex paint)

Before You Start

  • Decide whether you want to paint the door while it’s still on its hinges or remove it and lay it flat. Painting the door flat will prevent drips and make it easier to reach all the areas. However, removing the door will require more time and effort, and you’ll need to secure your house while the door is off. If you choose to remove the door, use a screwdriver to take off the hinges and hardware, and place the door on sawhorses or 2×4 blocks on a table.
  • Check if your door is pre-primed or bare metal. If it’s pre-primed, you can skip the priming step and apply the paint directly. If it’s bare metal, you’ll need to prime it first with a metal primer or use a direct-to-metal paint that can adhere to metal without priming.
  • Choose the right type of paint for your door. If your door is exposed to direct sunlight, use an oil-based exterior paint that can resist bubbling and fading. If your door is in a shaded area, use two or more coats of high-quality exterior acrylic-latex paint that can withstand weathering and corrosion. For a glossy and durable finish, use semi-gloss or gloss paint for your door. For the interior side of your door, use a top-quality acrylic latex interior paint with good blocking resistance (to prevent sticking).
  • Test the paint on your door for lead if it was painted before 1978. Lead-based paint is harmful to your health when sanded or scraped. Use a home lead paint test kit or contact a local testing company to check for lead.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Clean the door with a sponge or cloth and warm, soapy water. Remove any dirt, dust, oil, or grease from the surface. Rinse with clean water and let the door dry completely.
  2. Sand the door lightly with a sanding block to smooth out any rough spots or peeling paint. Wipe off the dust with a damp cloth.
  3. Tape off any areas that you don’t want to paint, such as windows, hardware, trim, or weather stripping. Cover the floor or ground with a drop cloth to protect it from spills and splatters.
  4. Prime the door with a metal primer or direct-to-metal paint if needed. Use a 2-inch brush to apply the primer or paint to narrow or bumpy areas, such as edges, corners, grooves, or panels. Use a foam roller to apply the primer or paint to larger, flat areas. Keep the roller as dry as possible to avoid drips and runs. Let the primer or paint dry for about two to three hours or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Paint the door with the color coat by first brushing the paint onto narrow or bumpy areas. Use the foam roller for larger, flat areas. Keep the roller as dry as possible to ensure a flat, drip-free coat. Recoat the door with a second coat after letting the first coat dry for about two to three hours or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Remove the painter’s tape carefully while the paint is still wet. Let the door dry completely for at least 24 hours before reattaching the hardware and hinges (if removed) and reinstalling it.

When to Call a Professional

If you are not comfortable with removing or reinstalling your metal front door, you may want to hire a professional painter or handyman to do it for you. A professional can also help you with testing for lead paint, choosing the right type of paint for your door, and applying it smoothly and evenly.

FAQ

Q: How do I clean my painted metal front door?

A: You can clean your painted metal front door with a soft cloth and mild detergent diluted in water. Rinse with clean water and wipe dry with another cloth.

Q: How often should I repaint my metal front door?

Q: How do I prevent rust on my metal front door?

A: You can prevent rust on your metal front door by applying a rust-inhibiting primer and paint, and by keeping the door clean and dry. If you notice any rust spots, sand them off and repaint them as soon as possible.

Q: What are the benefits of painting a metal front door?

A: Painting a metal front door can enhance its appearance, protect it from corrosion and damage, and increase its energy efficiency. A painted metal front door can also boost your home’s curb appeal and value.

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