How to Paint an Interior Door
Painting an interior door not only freshens up the door, but it also gives the room and the home an entirely new look. This project can be staged out at your convenience—one door at a time or several in a row.
Type of Paint to Use
Use interior acrylic-latex paint. Choose eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss sheens. Avoid using flat or matte paint on doors.
Each door is 68 square feet, including front, back, and edges. One gallon of paint covers about 350 square feet. So, you'll need about one gallon of paint for every five doors.
Most paintable interior doors today come pre-primed. If the door is bare wood, it's likely meant to be stained and coated. Clear pine doors and unfinished wood veneer doors should be stained and clear-coated, not painted. If you do decide to paint these doors, they should first be primed with two coats of interior primer.
Paint Door in Place or Remove It?
You can either remove the interior door from its hinges and paint it laid flat or you can paint it without removing it. In general, it's preferable to remove the door from the hinges.
Paint Door After Removing It
Removing the door gives you access to all parts of the door, including the bottom edge and the back (or hinge) edge. Painting flat also reduces paint drips. Plus, it gives you a chance to move the door off-site to a workshop or a separate room so the project doesn't block any rooms.
Painting Door Without Removing It
Painting a door on its hinges eliminates having to uninstall and later re-install the door. Also, a door on its hinges has both sides of the door available for painting at the same time. When painting a door off-hinges, you need to wait until the top side fully dries before you can turn it over.
When to Paint an Interior Door
As part of a larger remodel, it's best to paint interior doors as one of the last steps in the project. Leaving doors off the hinges for as long as possible eliminates obstacles to installing flooring, door casing, and trim. It also means that wall, ceiling, or trim paint won't end up on your newly painted door.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Cordless drill or manual screwdriver
- Drop cloth
- Utility knife
- Sanding sponge
- 4-inch foam roller set
- Paint brush
- Paint tray and liner
- Tack cloth
- Shop vacuum
- Interior acrylic-latex paint
- Primer (optional)
Paint Door by Removing It
Tap out the pins in the door hinges. Place the sharp end of the nail at the bottom of the pin. Tap until enough of the pin protrudes for you to pull it out by hand. With the pins out, slide the door off. Leave the other half of the hinges on the door casing.
Remove Hinges and All Items From Door
Place the door on two sawhorses. Remove the hinges from the door. Also remove the doorknob, rectangular faceplate, rose cover (the round trim), and any door hooks or wall protectors.
Lightly sand the door with the sanding sponge. Sand the front and back, as well as the two long edges and the top and bottom edges.
Use the shop vacuum and tack cloth to clean off the door.
Paint Edges and Panels
With the brush, paint the edges of the door. If the door has panels, paint them, too. Load up the brush with a minimal amount of paint to avoid runs and sags. Watch for drips along the edges.
Paint With Foam Roller
While the paint is still wet, switch to the foam roller. Roll paint on all of the flat surfaces. Along the way, touch up any drips from the brushwork.
Apply Second Coat
Wait about two hours for the paint to fully dry. Apply a second coat.
Paint Other Side of Door
Wait at least two hours before turning the door over to paint the other side. Because pressure on the paint can cause indents, it's usually safest to wait a full day before turning it.
Replace Door and Hardware
Replace the hinges and all hardware. Slide the door back onto the hinges on the door frame. Replace the hinge pins.
Paint Door Without Removing It
Remove All Items From Door
With the screwdriver, remove the doorknob, faceplate, rose cover (the round trim), hooks, and all items, other than the hinges, that will not be painted.
Add Drop Cloth
Open the door so that it is about halfway open. Slide the drop cloth under the bottom edge of the door. Make sure that the cloth extends the entire width of the door and outward a few feet.
Steady the Door
Jam a soft item like a towel under the bottom edge of the door. Test the door's steadiness by pressing against it. It should not move.
Apply Painter's Tape
Tape over hinges. Lay full strips of tape across the hinges. Then pare away tape with the utility knife so that only the hinges are covered.
Now, paint the door as you would if you had removed the door. Some differences:
- The bottom edge of the door will not be painted.
- Be careful when painting near the taped-over hinges to avoid mounding up too much paint.
- Paint is prone to dripping on vertical surfaces, so frequently touch up drips as they develop.
- Both sides can be painted at the same time.
When to Call a Professional
While painting a few doors is usually manageable, painting all doors in a house can be tedious and time-consuming. If you're short on time, professional painters can speed up the job, often completing jobs like this in a day or two.