Give your home a little pick-me-up—and a much-needed final touch—with this simple guide to painting a front door.

By Tamara Kraus
Updated May 31, 2019
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Learning how to paint a front door—together with picking the right front door plants and some nice front door décor—can completely change the look of a home. A bright front door paint color can make the whole front of the home pop, while a darker or moodier shade can help the exterior feel elegant and sophisticated.

If time—or the budget—is tight, painting the front door is one of the best ways to update a home’s curb appeal with minimal time, effort, or money. These steps for how to paint a front door make it easy, too, so there’s no excuse for not creating a front door that shines.

How to paint a front door

Gather your supplies. You’ll need a drop cloth, a bucket, a sponge, dish-washing liquid, dry rags, a medium-grit sanding sponge, a vacuum, painter’s tape, primer, spackling paste or wood filler, a 1½- to 2-inch angled brush, a high-density mini foam roller, and paint in your chosen color.

For a smooth paint job, take the door off the hinges and lay it over a pair of sawhorses, says painter Brian Bedenbaugh of Blue Sky Painting in Rochester, New York, and the site Thumbtack. If painting outdoors, do so in the early morning or late afternoon (direct sun speeds up drying, which can cause bubbling). Tape cardboard across the empty door opening or install a baby gate to prevent kids and pets from wandering through. Remove hardware and weather stripping from the door and get rid of grime with dishwashing liquid so the paint properly sticks to the door. Wipe down with water and let dry. Lightly sand the surface with the sanding sponge, then vacuum up the dust and wipe clean with a rag. Apply tape to protect hinges and window panes.

Prime the door and fill dents with spackling paste; use wood filler for larger holes. After the primer and filler dry, sand the door and wipe clean. Coat detailed areas, like around a window, with the angled brush. Then use the foam roller on the rest of the door to avoid brushstrokes. Apply one coat, wait four hours or until it’s dry to the touch (quick-drying paints need only one to two hours to dry), and apply another coat, says Rick Watson, vice president of product development for Sherwin-Williams. Let the door dry for about three hours, and enlist another person to help you reinstall (hanging the door properly is a difficult job to do alone).