Painting a New Exterior Door

Lead Image
  • 3-20 hours
  • Beginner
  • 200-1,200
What You'll Need
Exterior Door
Drop Cloth
Paint Thinner
Eye Protection
Adequate Ventilation

Hanging and painting a new exterior door can not only provide you with convenient access to your home, but it also serves as an easy aesthetic makeover. Painting a heavy door can be tricky, however, so you will want to follow these steps for a successful do-it-yourself project that you can be proud of.

Pick The Paint

When you choose to paint your new exterior door, the right color is only a small part of what you need to look for in the paint you ultimately choose. You must use a paint that is designed for exterior purposes because they're made to hold up better and withstand a beating from the elements. You may want to go an extra step and purchase a waterproof sealer for your new storm door as well. Many new paints are already waterproof, so you won't need to hunt for a specialty product, but if you are planning to purchase a separate waterproof sealer, follow the manufacturer's instructions for application to the letter.

Upright or Removed

First, you have to decide if you want to paint the door before, or after you hang it. Exterior doors are heavy, and painting them before they are hung can cause a few problems. It’s awkward to maneuver a door around while it's lying down. You might wind up having to wait many hours or possibly even days for the paint to dry before you can paint the other side. Painting a door while it is hung can lead to drips and streaks in the paint. Most experts, however, will tell you that as long as you are cautious and take your time, painting a door while it's hung tends to be the easier method by far.


Use a small brush to paint your door. This will help prevent drips and runs. Start painting on the inside upper panels. Paint with the grain of the door to ensure an even look.


When painting a door you won’t always paint in the same direction. If you’re painting with the grain as you should be the grain may still be running in a different direction on the recessed areas and the panels. Because of this, it’s important to do a good job of blending the areas to prevent any streaking or noticeable brushstrokes that will tend to stick out like a sore thumb.


You want to allow plenty of time for the door to dry. If you notice drips you need to correct these before the door completely dries. It’s much easier to fix this if the paint is still wet. If you wait for the paint to become tacky—or worse, dry—then you will need to sand these areas down and repaint, which will make blending difficult.