How to paint a front door to give your home a facelift
Because curb appeal is everything
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I know I’m not the only person who has a front-door fixation. Back before everything went digital, you might have owned a framed poster or bought a postcard featuring a dozen or so photos of brightly colored front doors from a particular city, say, Paris. Whereas today, one only needs to scroll through Instagram to see a parade of pretty images of doors that range from simple to elaborate.
With its pop of color and personality, a front door can undeniably boost a home’s curb appeal.
If your own front door isn’t shouting “Welcome” as emphatically as you’d like, maybe it’s time to make a change. Lucky for you, fall is a great season for this kind of project, since the summer’s excessive heat, humidity, and rain do not bode well for exterior painting. A temperature of around 70° F is ideal.
Brooke Elkins, merchant of exterior paint for The Home Depot, says, “Early fall generally has minimal rain and fluctuation in temperature, ensuring paint applies smoothly and can dry and cure to perfection.”
Want to get started? Here’s how to paint a front door.
1. Select a color
First things first: As much as the right shade of color can be a head-turner, the wrong one—neon turquoise or hot pink, for example—can have disastrous results (or at least elicit giggles from passersby).
Also, if you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, keep in mind that color trends vary across the country from region to region. Popular paint companies, like Behr, also release annual color trends.
Kacey Graham, principal designer of Boehm Graham Interior Design in Bedford, New Hampshire, says, “My approach to an exterior front door color selection is similar to my approach from an interior perspective. I like to introduce the house’s color palette from the curb.”
Graham says she often uses Fine Paints of Europe Hollandlac Brilliant collection to achieve the depth of color and level of sheen she’s looking for, noting that a few of her favorites colors are Black 0029, Red Tulip 1001, and Dutch Door Green 3015, all from FPOE’s Classic European Colors collection.
Stephen FitzMaurice, a real estate agent in Portland, Oregon, observes, “Dark blue doors pair well with stucco, wood shingles, and just about any other tone of light-colored siding.” He adds that earth tones are popular in the Pacific Northwest.
Bill Larkin, who has more than two decades of experience painting homes in Greater Boston and is owner of The Larkin Painting Company in Natick, Mass., favors Benjamin Moore’s line of Aura Grand Entrance for its rich, lustrous finish.
If you’re color conflicted and otherwise undecided, take a tip from interior designers and tape a few paint chips to your existing door. Then, see how your front door paint selections look as the light changes throughout the day.
A more technologically advanced way to take the guesswork out of color selection is to use one of the several mobile apps available today. In early 2020, Benjamin Moore launched its Color Portfolio app featuring virtual fan decks, accurate photo and video visualizers, and renderings that allow users to “try on” colors, save selections, and share images instantly.
2. Select the type of paint to use and how much
To ensure a quality exterior paint job, the rule of thumb is to use a water-based paint in a gloss or semi-gloss finish, like those mentioned above.
Elkins from The Home Depot recommends the Modern Masters line of paint made specifically for the front door. Not only do glossy paints flatter architectural highlights, they also stand up better than other finishes to nicks and scrapes.
For a single door, expect to use a gallon of primer such as BEHR White Acrylic Interior/Exterior Multi-Surface Stain-Blocking Primer and Sealer followed by about one quart of front door paint of your choosing.
3. On your mark, get prepped
Do not skip this step under any circumstances! Whether you choose to paint your door in place or remove it from its hinges and lay it down on a flat surface (sawhorses work well), follow these steps before putting brush to paint.
- Remove all hardware.
- Clean the door thoroughly and allow it to dry completely.
- Scrape off any peeling or flaking paint.
- Sand the door (If you’re removing water-based paint, use a fine-grit sandpaper; for oil-based paint, use a medium-grit sandpaper).
- Tape around edges with painter’s tape.
4. Paint and paint, again
Let’s put it this way: Painting your front door isn’t as hard or actively time-consuming as painting a room. You can use a low-nap or foam roller to apply the primer and paint.
However, you’ll want to use an angled brush to apply paint to small creases. Even if you use a roller initially, consider painting with a brush for the final coat to go back over any uneven spots and to smooth out the finish.
Let the door dry for a minimum of 24 hours and then apply a second coat, followed by another 24 hours of drying time.
Once the door is thoroughly dry, remove the painter’s tape and reattach the hardware. Stand back and admire the spiffed-up entrance to your home!
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.