Learn how to paint metal doors. Do your metal exterior doors need an update? Paint is the easiest way to freshen up your home. Get easy tips for painting your doors without brushstrokes.
You might also like this post on painting interior doors.
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I’ve painted a ton of doors in my life, but metal doors are probably the hardest to get right.
Maybe it’s because they’re typically exterior doors (or doors that go to the garage) and they get heavier use than interior doors.
Skipping the prep work results in your doors being all scratched up in a few months.
Here’s how I paint metal exterior doors.
How to Paint Metal Doors
- Primer (this is the KEY to a good paint job!)
- Chip Brush
- Paint in satin or semigloss
- Foam roller (if desired)
- Painter’s tape
I painted this door and room in Mattasaurus Rex by HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams in satin.
Tips for Getting a Finish without Brushstrokes
- Paint against wet edges only. This means that if you paint a section, you need to paint next to it. Skipping around will result in visible brushstrokes because the paint partially dried and then you touched it. Let it dry and then come back to it.
- Use a good brush. The brush that I linked to is the best for everything! The bristles are smooth and don’t leave brush strokes the way cheaper brushes do.
- If you’re using a shinier paint like semigloss, you will need more coats of paint than you think. A more matte paint like satin will need fewer coats, but won’t be as durable. However, it hides flaws better, so it’s often my choice for old doors.
This is the most important part of painting metal doors. The primer is applied with a chip brush, not your expensive brushes.
Chip brushes are super cheap, but the primer self-levels, so don’t be worried about the uneven coat.
- Clean the door thoroughly, even if it looks clean. Dirt and oil from the skin will make the paint not stick as well.
- Let the door dry.
- If repairs are needed, now is the time. Fill any screw holes if needed.
- If you’re replacing the hardware, remove it. If not, use painter’s tape to cover it.
- It’s best to leave the door open during this process if possible.
- Use a chip brush to apply primer to the entire door with this primer. It’s a shellac-based primer and sticks to everything, including metal.
- Let it dry. (This primer doesn’t take long to dry at all.)
- The chip brush can be soaked in ammonia to clean or you can just throw it away.
Painting Metal Doors
The door I painted was flat with a window in it. Most people leave the plastic window trim unpainted, but that’s a personal pet peeve of mine because it looks unfinished.
If you have that trim it needs to be primed too. Be careful to not get it on the window.
If you have a metal door with panels, paint the inset parts first as directed in this post about painting exterior doors.
- Open the door to have access to the entire surface.
- If desired, you can use a foam roller to make the process faster. Just use thin coats and let them dry between each coat.
- I typically just use a paintbrush because doors are quick to paint.
- Paint any detailed parts first. For my door, that was the trim around the window and around the doorknobs.
- If your door is flat, pick a corner and start painting, keeping a wet edge as you go.
- Continue until you finish. Your first coat is going to look pretty bad.
- Let it dry completely.
- Apply another coat in the same manner and let it dry.
- From here, you might need another coat or you might just need to touch up spots where you missed.
- Remove the tape from the hardware while the paint is wet.
I also chose to paint the trim the same color in this room, but it’s not necessary in most cases. In this small office space, the white was too distracting, so I painted it to blend in.
Cure Time for Paint
Your freshly-painted metal door will need about a month to fully cure, so be careful with it during that time. (All paint takes this long to fully cure, by the way.)
If you have dogs that scratch the doors, try keeping them away from the door as long as possible.
The door can be shut when the paint is dry though.
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