Painting smooth interior doors

So you want to paint like a pro? Well, sit back and let me give you some tips and a tutorial for painting a door for starters. Then we’ll work our way around the room.

Our doors are all the six panel type. If you have flat (non-panel) versions, you can skip this post and come back later. For the rest of us, get out your paper and pencils and take some notes (does anyone do this anymore?)

Step 1: The easiest way to paint a door is to start by removing it, then removing all the hardware and lay it horizontally on saw horses. This will eliminate potential drips. But, I’ve painted plenty of doors without removing them. So, it’s your choice.

Step 2: Lightly sand the entire door. No need to bust out the power sander, you can use a sanding block or sheet of sand paper. Be sure to sand down any bumps or blemishes. The main goal is to give your door a little “tooth” for the new paint or primer to adhere to.

Step 3: Time to decide if you need to use primer. Here are reasons you would need to use it:

  • If the door is bare wood or stained wood.
  • If the door is a dark color and you want to paint it much lighter.
  • If the door was painted with oil and you want to use latex paint (how to tell? Rub a small spot with ammonia and if the paint comes off it is latex.)

If you are painting over latex with latex (or oil over oil) and the previous paint job is in good shape you can skip the primer. (This was the case with my door, so I didn’t prime it.)

Step 4: Paint the panels first.

Using a small roller to paint doors can greatly speed the process. Begin by rolling paint on the panels.

Work quickly by rolling on the paint, then use a brush to smooth out the paint and fill in any spots missed by the roller. Follow the arrow directions above when brushing on the paint.

Drag your brush in the same direction as the woodgrain on your door. This will highlight the grain and keep your door looking neat and clean. NEVER run your brush strokes perpendicular to the wood grain. This does NOT look professional.

Step 5: Next roll the inside cross pieces. Start by rolling and painting the center vertical piece.

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Popular Q&A

What kind of paint for interior doors?

Interior semi-gloss or gloss enamel

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