How to paint doors

DIY painting is easy, right? The truth is, it’s easy to do a not-so-great job. So, if you’re thinking of painting a few doors in your home, here are some helpful tips to get it right first time.

July 21, 2022

First things first, decide on the type of paint you’re going to use.


  • Highly reflective finish
  • More traditional look
  • Durable - great for high traffic areas
  • Easy to clean


  • Glossy, but doesn’t have the brilliant finish of full gloss paint
  • Durable with good stain resistance
  • Easy to wash
  • Popular in more contemporary homes


This is a ‘flat finish’ and will show up fingerprints and scuff marks, which will also be difficult to remove. This isn’t recommended for doors.

You will need:

  • High quality brush
  • Short nap synthetic roller
  • Paint pot (for decanting paint from a large tin)
  • Drop sheets
  • Masking tap
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Wood filler (for holes and cracks)
  • Drop sheets

The easiest way to paint a door is to remove it from the door frame, remove the handle and hinges, then lay it flat (on the floor, on a table or between two chairs). If you prefer to paint to leave the door in the frame, mask off all the door’s hardware.

If the surface of the door is already painted and in good condition, with no stains or mould, you shouldn’t need an undercoat. Just give it a light sand and make sure it is clean and dry. If it hasn’t been painted before, start with a layer of undercoat and lightly sand when dry.

  • Start with the edges of the door with the brush, but don’t overload it with paint.  
  • The fastest way to paint a flat door (with no moulding) is to use a roller, and then smooth over it with a brush. Don’t brush it too much – a few strokes should be enough to smooth the surface.
  • Allow to dry, and lightly sand any imperfections, then apply a second coat.
  • For moulded doors, always paint inner recesses and moulding first, then move to the outside to finish. Apply the paint in short strokes, then even the finish out with a few long strokes.
  • For doors with glass panels, mask off the glass and use a brush to paint.
  • Remember to remove the painter’s tape while the door is still wet to ensure a clean line and easy removal.

If all this seems like too much trouble, call your local painter and decorator. They have the equipment and the know how to get it done right first time.

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