Answers to Door Painting Questions

Q. The front entry door to my condo is a metal door with an original-looking medium brown finish to it. It does not appear to have ever been painted. I would like to paint it to match the walls, a grayish white or a complimentary light color. It seems obvious I am going to need two coats, but what technique should I use to paint? I am sensitive to seeing brush marks, but the door has eight recessed decorative panels so I believe I cannot use a roller on the entire door.

A. You can use a roller on it. Use a 4-inch roller, and roll out each piece separately, doing all the recessed panels first, then the rails and stiles. Roll out one panel, and brush it smooth. Then after panels are done, roll out the stiles, which are the vertical pieces, and brush after each. Then do the rails, which are the horizontal pieces. Rails and stiles are the parts of the door that are not recessed panels. Imagine a wooden door - they are the boards or slats that make up the door minus the paneled areas. Use Sherwin Williams Waterborne Pro-Classic or Benjamin Moore Waterborne Satin Impervo, both of these paints level very well and show hardly any brush strokes.

Q. I want to paint my steel front door but how long do I have to wait before I can close it to avoid paint sticking to the jamb or weather stripping?

A. It depends on the paint and the weather; heat and sunshine helps speed up drying. Most steel doors have removable weather stripping. If yours can be removed, take it out and reinstall 24 hours later. If it can't be removed, go by the info on the paint can and add a few hours to be safe. Try painting it early in the morning, right after the dew dries if necessary. Leave at least cracked open as long as you can. Sometimes latex paint will tend to stick even after a couple of days. Your best bet is to leave it open as long as possible.

Q. Anyone have any tips for painting two old aluminum storm doors? They have moderate pitting; generally, they are in good overall shape, they just need to be "restored." I was curious if I could paint them? What steps I would have to take in order to do it right?

A. Wire brush off any loose, flaking or rusty metal. Scrub clean the door thoroughly with a mix of TSP/water, or use a product like Dirtex made by Savogran. Rinse and let dry. Prime it with a slightly thinned down oil exterior oil primer (1 pint thinner to 1 gallon primer) or go the easy route like I do and use Zinsser's B I N. Top coat with two coats of 100% acrylic exterior house paint.

Q. I am about to paint over a couple of four-panel bedroom doors that already have two layers of old paint. I don't want to go to the trouble of completely stripping the doors. I've read just to sand the door to remove the gloss for better adhesion. All the sanding methods I try don't seem to rough up the surface at all. The last layer of paint seems to be quite resilient and isn't letting me scuff it up. What would anyone recommend using?

A. You have two basic alternatives or additions to sanding to neutralize gloss. One is what is commonly known as "de-glosser" but is also variously labeled as "liquid sandpaper" or "paint bond." Simply put, this is a weakened version of paint remover, which softens the top layer of paint on a surface so that paint applied to it will have better adhesion. It has a quick drying rate so you have to work at a faster pace or it will dry out and have to be reapplied. It's best to do smaller areas at a time. The other alternative is primer. A good quality bonding primer may, and I stress the word may, give you the adhesion you need. Oil base primer will bond and cover better but there is a trade off with odor and clean up. Sanding should be attempted if you prime or use de-glosser. As for the peeling areas, both alternatives will help cover these. De-glosser will soften the areas so they blend in better and/or primer will help fill them. Make sure you do sand the peeling areas to remove any loose material.

Q. I recently purchased an older home. The original owner replaced the front exterior door with a new fiberglass door. The paint has peeled away from the outside door edge that meets the door jam. The paint on the rest of the door looks great. Please help! Where do I start?

A. Scrape off all the peeling/loose paint, and sand it down with 120 grit sand paper. Prime that area with an exterior bonding primer. Then touch-up that area, or repaint the whole door.

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