How to Paint an Interior Panel Door

When it comes to customizing your home, nothing beats the sturdy, classic beauty of an interior panel door. Although these doors can be quite costly to purchase new, you can achieve the same effect by revitalizing older doors—whether it’s one you already have or one you buy from a used furniture store—with a fresh coat of paint. The following Q&A provides important tips on how to paint interior doors.

Q. Any tips for painting 6-panel interior doors?

A.1. Remove interior panel door and hardware. Carefully put hardware in a bucket and note the direction of the doorknob.

2. Sand with 220-grit using a sanding block on flat areas and a sanding sponge on profiled areas. Be very careful not to break through the paint on corners. Recently I started using a Kilz spray oil based primer for the occasional breakthrough - it dries in 15 minutes and is sand-able. Sand both sides, clean with TSP especially around doorknobs, and then vacuum with a shop vacuum. Finally, run a tack rag over the door. The slightest grit shows with this paint.

3. I used BM Waterborne SI. The only problem I have with this paint is the satin sheen, which is quite a bit duller than semi-gloss trim, but I don't find it objectionable for an interior panel door. I would buy this paint in quarts because it has a short shelf life once opened. It goes a long way. I think it only took 3 1/2 quarts to do 12 doors. Apply as thinly as possible. You have plenty of time to work this paint, so there's no need to rush. Beware of sags in the panel area. When you are finished coating the door, inspect it carefully for a few minutes afterward to catch sags in the panel area. Run your brush under the bottom edge of the door to catch drips - these are very difficult to fix if you miss them. Don't worry too much about puddling in the bottom of the panels - it will flow out nicely.

4. Unfortunately, you have to wait at least a day or two before flipping the door and painting the other side or the fresh paint will stick to your sawhorse. Some painters will drive two large screws into the ends of a door so they can flip the door on the sawhorse and paint both sides at once. I wouldn't reinstall the door for a few days since the new paint is somewhat fragile.

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