How to Paint a Steel Entry Door - Part 1

A yellow painted front door with windows.
What You'll Need
Interior/exterior latex metal paint
Primer paint
Medium grit sandpaper
Masking tape
Warm water
Cleaning cloths
Drop cloths
Old clothes

Painting a steel entry door is a cost-effective way of sprucing up the curb appeal of your existing home. It is best to plan it for a time when you will have at least a couple of days when the door doesn't need to be closed for extended periods while the paint dries. Also, make sure an adult will be home so that the door can be left open and that the weather will be warm and calm. You may actually want to allot a couple of different weekends to do the job. While it doesn't take to actually paint, allowing for sufficient drying times is critical.

This project is a little different than painting interior or exterior walls in terms of the materials needed, and more preparation should be taken. Overall, it is a small amount of work that will have a big payoff.

Step 1 - Select Your Materials

When choosing primer and paint, be sure that you purchase a material that is designed for both interior and exterior use. Latex paint is best, but if you are unclear about what to get, ask a sales associate at the paint store. Also be certain that the paint is designed to be used on metal surfaces. Not all paints can be used on all surfaces, so if you buy the wrong kind, you may wind up needing to repaint long before you want to.

Make sure that you have medium grit sandpaper available as well; you will need to roughen up the existing finish on the door so that the surface is primed for the paint to adhere to when it dries. There are "liquid sanding" products available on the market, but it is unclear if these are as effective as sanding with sandpaper.

Step 2 - Prepare the Door

Start by removing all hardware from the door including door knobs and locks, kick plates, and security chains. Mask off any features that are not easily removed such as glass or windows in the door or mail slots. Then, wash the surface down with warm, soapy water to remove dirt, dust, and debris. Rinse it with clean water and allow it to dry completely.

Using the medium grit sandpaper, give the door a quick—but thorough—sanding, ensuring that you get all of the panels, edges, and trim pieces. Basically, sand anything that you will be applying paint to. Wipe the door down again with a wet cloth and allow to dry completely.

Step 3 - Prepare the Work Area

Start the project early in the day so that you have plenty of time to work. Spread a drop cloth underneath the door, slipping it under so it covers the floor on both sides. Also put on an old outfit so you don't worry about ruining your clothes.

Once all your prep work is done, you can proceed onto part two.