how to paint an old wooden door

person painting a wooden door with a new paint color
Tools Needed
1 Hammer
2 Phillips-Head screwdriver
3 Flat-head screwdriver
4 Chisel
5 Caulk
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Materials Needed
1 Primer
2 Sandpaper
3 Tack cloth
Total Cost
$25-$75
Find a handyman
Estimated Time
3-4 Hours
Skill Level: Beginner
The total cost and duration may vary when hiring a handyman!

Project Overview

hand with a paint brush painting a wood door

You can greatly enhance the curb appeal of your home by repainting your old doors, and a new coat of paint on those old wooden doors will yield good results. 

Wooden doors, especially at the exterior, need regular maintenance, like routine cleaning, an occasional (and well-deserved) spruce-up and weatherproofing. A fresh coat of paint is an ideal for choosing a new color for your old wooden doors and refreshing your home’s aesthetic appeal.

When you are painting your wooden doors, make sure you are prepared. Arranging all the right materials and tools. Plus, the only way to successfully paint your door knowing different techniques behind everything. This will ensure the new paint on the door is fresh and remains long-lasting.  In light of this, mentioned below are some pro tips you can implement to make your old wooden door look new again.

Step-By-Step Instructions

1

Choose a New Paint Color

different colors of pain in buckets

It can be overwhelming and confusing to choose a new color for your door, whether you are considering a new coat of a neutral color or taking the plunge with a riskier high-contrast hue. Taping a couple of swatches to your wooden door is always helpful. And keep in mind that the colors will appear much different indoors than outside your home.

2

Remove the Hardware

person unscrewing the hinges

It is much easier to attain a professional-looking and superior finish if you take your time and remove the knobs and locks. Although you could tape them off and start painting around them, it is not the recommended approach. And in case you are thinking about new hardware installation, this is the ideal time to buy everything relevant.

Thoroughly clean your door; using a palm sander rough up the all the flat surfaces of the paint. This will provide the primer a rough surface that it can stick to better. You will also need to sand around the trim and in the crevices. To remove dust, wipe your door clean using a dry rag.

3

Remove the Door

person removing a door from its hinges

Remove the door after removing all of the hardware. Carefully wedge a flathead screwdriver or a chisel in all the joints at the top of the hinge pins and between the hinges, then gently tap the chisel or screwdriver handle using a hammer until all the hinge pins are detached.

Remove all the hinge pins, and then get someone to help you take down the door and carry it outside. Using a Phillips-head screwdriver remove any remaining hardware, and be careful to avoid stripping the screw holes.

It can take a considerable amount of time for door paint to dry completely, so it is ideal to make sure you have some sort of temporary replacement to protect the house. You may use a current storm door or large piece of plywood, for keeping out various insects.

4

Prep the Door

person sanding wooden part of a door

Your old wooden door will require priming and sanding. Do not make the mistake of brushing a new coat of paint over an old paint job, the results will be poor and the finishing will appear sloppy.

In order to achieve a smooth and fine working surface, carefully scrape off all peeling pieces, sanding down your old paint until your door’s surface feels even. It is ideal to begin with a piece of medium-sized 120-grit sandpaper, gradually working your way to a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. In case your door is still rough, finish the job using a piece of fine-grade 320-grit sandpaper. To stay safe, always wear safety goggles and a dust mask when sanding.

If your wooden door has cracks, especially visible ones, you should repair them. It is simple; just dab minor amounts of caulk on the cracks and gently work the caulk in using a small putty knife. Let it dry for a couple of minutes, and sand all the repaired spots to ensure they are smooth. Sanding will leave some dust on the surface, get rid of it before priming. Vacuum away all the dust then wipe your door using a tack cloth. Use mineral spirits to dampen the cloth and remove all the dust.

5

Lay your Door Flat

door panels horizontal on a desk ready to be painted

For the sake of convenience, you may be tempted to leave your door hanging while you paint. But it is better to lay it flat to ensure a smooth finish. Lay your door flat on a sawhorse and you will be able to spread the paint swiftly without having to worry about paint sags and drips. You can paint both sides of the door easily in a day, by resting it on lag screws.

6

Prime the Door

person priming a old wood door with primer before painting

It is unlikely that your old paint is in good condition; therefore, it is important to prime it before painting. The primer will help block stains, mute dark colors and allow the new paint to stick much better. It will also seal porous fillers and the topcoat will look even and smooth.

7

Look for Flaws after Priming

person applying some extra paint primer to wood door

It would be hard to notice any minor flaws in the patching job on an old surface, but they will be visible after you have applied a new coat of primer. Once the primer has dried check your door again using a strong light. You can cover minor flaws easily with a spackling compound. Using the same brush or roller, sand and re-prime these regions, and feather all the edges to ensure the extra primer blends in.

8

Sand between Coats

person painting a wood door

Irrespective of how cautious you are, you are likely to find bubbles, ridges or bits of lint and dust in a new coat of paint. To get ideal results on the topcoat, hand-sand the complete door both between coats of paint and after the primer.

It might feel like plenty of work, but it will usually not take over ten minutes if your door is lying flat. Sand it using non-clogging 220-grit sandpaper. Sand enough so that the surface feels smooth. After sanding, vacuum the door and wipe it down with a soft damp cloth to get rid of the dust.

9

Finish Smoothly with a Mini Roller

person using a paint roller to apply a fresh new coat of paint on a wood door

If you want to avoid brush marks on the new paint job, the solution is simple which is to avoid the use of brushes. Instead, use high-density mini rollers to spread the paint evenly and smoothly, and you will not have to worry about brush marks or bumpy surfaces that are left by standard-nap rollers. These rollers also have round ends, which help eliminate lap marks and make it easier to paint corners without leaving ridges or scrapes. Paint the different door sections in the following order:

  • Bevels
  • Panels
  • Center stile
  • Rails
  • Outer Stiles

Make sure you edge in around panels and windows using a brush initially, coating the remaining door using a foam roller. Use the roller for both paint and primer as they are able to spread thin coats of paint compared to conventional rollers or brushes.

Conclusion

Even when the paint feels dry on touch, it may stick to your doorstop and peel off later once you open your door. We suggest you wait for a minimum of two days before closing your interior door. Your old wooden door has been painted, now you can reinstall the knobs and locks and reattach it to the frame with hinge pins.

How To Paint An Old Wooden Door

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Questions And Answers

Can exterior doors swing out?
In all standards, yes, an exterior door could swing out. However, they aren’t made that way because it would be considered a safety issue for your home or business, since the hinges would be exposed.
What is the size of the average exterior door?
There are many different sizes of exterior doors. However, the average size of the exterior doors are 80 inches in height and 1 ¾ inch thick. The average width is 36 inches.
How do you frame an exterior door?
This will depend on whether you are making a new opening or using an existing one. This is a project that can be a do-it-yourself project but you should have some home repair knowledge. If you aren't familiar with repair work you can contract someone to do it for you.
Can you get an exterior door in any color?
If you are interested in getting an exterior door in anything other than the basic colors, this is possible. You can custom order an exterior door or have the one you get painted or stained.
How do you tell if an exterior door is left or right hand swing?
This process is actually a pretty simple one. Go up to your door and then see which hand is near the knob. If the knob is by your left hand then the door had a left-hand swing. If your right hand is near the knob it is a right-hand swing.
What is the Brickmold on an exterior door?
Brickmold can be used on your door or on a casing for a window. It is used for homes and business that have an exterior that is brick. The molding is placed around the window or door and then the brick buts up against the Brickmold providing a finished look.
Is it difficult to install an exterior door?
It does take quite the effort and time to install an exterior door. If possible, it is best to have your exterior doors installed by a skilled professional.
Can I change the swing of an exterior door?
You will take the hinges off the door. Then, take the latch plate out. Measure hinge mortises height. Mark new hinge mortises height on other side of your door. Put hinges on new hinge mortises. Reattach the door and faceplate.
Can you paint exterior doors?
Depending on the material that your front door is made from, it is possible to paint your front door. You may need to install many coats to get the paint to cover the prior color.
What is a right hand exterior door?
There are left and right hand exterior doors. The right hand exterior door just means that if your back was facing the door jamb and your right hand was near the doorknob, that would be right-swing or right-hand.
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