August 2007 Issue
How to Paint a Door
Painting pros offer tips to help you spiff up your home's front portal.
Painting the front door may be one of the most important home-improvement projects you'll ever undertake. (Where else in the house do people repeatedly stare at your work for as long it takes you to answer the door?) The following are some tips on doing the job like a pro.
Select an exterior paint formulated for doors and windows.
Steve Revnew, director of marketing for the Sherwin-Williams Co. in Cleveland, says such products are formulated to prevent sticking and, like other exterior counterparts, to weather the elements. Joe Kowalski, manager of organizational development for ICI Paints in Strongsville, adds that semi- and high-gloss paints hold up better in high-traffic areas.
Take the door down by removing the pins from the hinges.
"It really weakens the door when you keep taking the hinges off," Kowalski says.
"Dull down" the previous paint job.
Revnew recommends wiping down the door with a mild household detergent, then lightly sanding it until the paint appears "flat." "The duller the surface, the better the anchor for the new paint," he says. Kowalski advises using trisodium phosphate — or TSP — a powerful cleaner available at paint stores, or a more ecologically friendly substitute, for "dulling down" painted aluminum and vinyl doors to avoid scratching the door itself. Remove any loose paint from scratches and nicks and apply an exterior primer appropriate for the surface to bare spots. Revnew says unpainted new doors may not require a brush with a primer — many are "pre–primed" at the factory.
Use a brush.
Kowalski explains that people tend to apply a lot of pressure on a roller to get the paint into recesses around panels and other decorative areas, a technique that actually puts too much paint down and results in runs. He prefers a 2–inch angled brush with synthetic bristles for the task. (It's better for getting into all those nooks and crannies.) If you insist on using a roller — say, on a six-panel door —Revnew suggests first painting the panels with a brush before finishing with a short–nap roller. For best results, he recommends applying two coats.