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How to Paint a Garage Door

how to paint a garage door. house with newly painted garage door

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It’s easy to ignore the appearance of your garage door if it’s in working order, but your garage door can be the finishing touch to your home exterior look. 

A fresh coat of paint will instantly enhance the appearance of your door while offering protection from outdoor elements such as rust.  

Understanding how to paint a garage door and covering all its panels and angles may look a little intimidating, and outdoor paint jobs are a bit time-consuming because of drying times– but it’s a simple task.

In this article, we’ll go through selecting the best paints and primers depending on your garage door and the best weather conditions for exterior painting

As well as a step-by-step guide of a methodical approach to get your garage door looking beautiful again in just two to three days.

What weather conditions are best for painting outdoors?

What weather conditions are best for painting outdoors?

You want to start painting on a cool day. An ideal temperature for painting outdoors is between 50- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. 

You also want to make sure humidity levels are low and not working in direct sunlight. 

Tip: Check the weather forecast at least a week before you plan to start painting. Try to pick out three consecutive days that fit the correct conditions as closely as possible.   

Different types of garage doors. 

Before you start thinking about the new color you plan to paint your garage door; it is important to determine what types of primer and paint will work best for your door.

You’ll figure this out based on the type of material your garage door is made of. 

There are three main types of garage doors:

  1. Steel or wood: Latex or oil-based paint/primer
  1. Aluminum- Acrylic paint/primer
  1. Vinyl- or has a plastic overlay- Latex-based primer and paint that contains a bonding agent.

Key Insight: Whether you are painting a steel or Aluminum garage door you must thoroughly research and follow a step-by-step guide without skipping any steps. Make sure you choose exterior paint that will fully protect your door from outside elements.

Roughly, how much paint will I need?

Now that you’ve figured out the best weather conditions and what type of paint you need for your door, the quantity of paint is the next step of preparation. 

The standard two-car garage doors will only need one gallon of paint and will provide two to three coats.

However, factors like material, size, and original color you are painting over also affect the amount of paint required. 

For example, if you’re painting over a darker color with a lighter color, you will need more coats of paint than when going from light to dark.

How much does it cost?

Commonly, the price range for painting a garage door is determined by the cost of paint, the size of the garage door, and hiring a professional laborer if you don’t plan to paint yourself. 

The cost to paint a garage door can range anywhere from $100 up to $700

A larger door will require more paint so that it will be more expensive. Likewise, if you choose to paint the door yourself, it will be cheaper than hiring a professional to do it.  

Below is a quick cost breakdown so you can budget before you begin. 


Deciding to paint your door yourself means you’ll need to get all your materials, including paint, brushes and/or rollers, tape, and clean-up supplies. 

For every 250 square feet, you will need one gallon of paint. A high-quality exterior paint will usually cost between $100 and $200 for five gallons. If you want to buy per gallon, the price runs between $38 and $54.

Exterior paints come in different styles and finishes, such as flat colors and semi-gloss. 

They’re all priced differently, so try to decide what look you want before budgeting.

Rollers, brushes, tape, and clean-up products, can usually be bought for under $10. You may also want to consider buying a drop cloth to lay on the driveway and inside the garage to avoid any paint splodges. 


Painting your garage door yourself will cut down labor costs to 0$. You will just have to dedicate a few days to the project.

But if you don’t want to do it yourself, you should expect to pay for four hours of work- excluding drying times

The cost generally varies between $100 and $300, but this depends on each contractor. 

The labor charges include:

  • Preparation and clean-up
  • Removing old paint
  • Applying a primer 
  • Two coats of paint

Painting the Garage Door

Equipment List

  • Hose
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Roller
  • Rags
  • Paint Tray
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Step Ladder
  • 2- or 3-inch Nylon Paint Brush
  • Wire Brush
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Safety Goggles
  • Dust Mask
  • Work gloves
  • Drop Cloth
  • All-purpose Cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Stir Stick

Step 1: Clean your surface: Remove rust, sand, and then wash the surface

Put on your protective gear, gloves, dust mask, and safety goggles, and begin to remove any chipped or rusted areas by scrubbing with a wire brush. 

If working with a wooden door, look out for cracks or holes. These will need filling with caulk to restore an even surface. If a wooded door is stained, refer to our guide on how to paint stained wood.

Begin sanding down your wood with some fine-grit sandpaper- usually between 180-220 grit. You want to create a smooth base ready for paint application. 

Using an all-purpose cleaner and a sponge, wipe down the entire surface- making sure all grime and dirt are fully removed. 

Rinse the door thoroughly with a garden hose, and then dry the surface as much as possible with a clean rag. Let the door air dry for at least one hour. 

Remember: Thoroughly preparing the garage door will make paint application a lot easier and create a more durable finish.

Clean your surface, Remove rust, sand, and then wash the surface

Expert Tip: A high-powered pressure washer will clean the door quickly and efficiently. PSI rating of 1000 to 1500 should be enough the clean the garage door’s surface. You can rent one at Home Depot. If you choose to use a power washer, pay close attention to the pressure. Too much force from the water or working too close to the surface can dent metals or score the wood.   

Step 2: Cover areas you don’t want to paint 

Once the garage door is dry, stick down painter’s tape to prevent paint from touching any places you don’t want it to. Cover areas like handles, windows, and locks. 

If you don’t intend to paint the trim, then also cover this with tape. Use the drop cloths to protect inside your garage and your driveway from paint splatters; lay one inside and outside the door.  

Step 3: Prime the door 

Now you’ll want to start applying your primer to your door. Make sure you are using a suitable primer for the door’s material. 

Working from the bottom to the top, one panel at a time is the best approach to take when priming. 

If your door has inset panels, prime these first using a 2-3 inch nylon bristle paintbrush. 

Wipe away any excess that’s outside the panels; this will help to secure a smoother finish.

Now moving on to the stiles. Using the same brush or a ¾-inch roller, make sure you get in between the grooves of the horizontal panels. 

Lower the garage door as you go along and stand on a step stool or step ladder to reach the top of the garage.

Prime the trim last, starting from the top corner of the door trim where it meets the wall.

Allow the primer to fully dry for approx. 12 hours. 

Step 4: Paint the door 

Make sure your paint has been carefully mixed with a stir stick, and pour the paint into a bucket. 

Using the step stool/ladder, take out a 2-3-inch nylon brush and start applying the paint to the top panel of the garage door. Continue painting all the panels until they are completely covered. 

Wipe away any excess paint that has overlapped onto other areas of the door. 

Using the same brush, paint, or cut in around the perimeter of the garage door, roughly keeping a 2 inch- 3-inch wide section.

Paint the stiles around the perimeter of each panel. It is ideal to use a ¾ roller cover.

Tip the remaining paint from the bucket into a paint tray and ensure the roller is fully loaded with paint.

Tip: Make sure you pick out high-quality exterior paint for best results. 

Step 5: The garage door frame and trim


Using your nylon brush, paint the inside frame of the door. Ensure you start from the top of the frame. Continue working around the frame until completed. 

Wipe away any excess paint with a tack cloth or rag. 


Painting the trim is a similar process to painting baseboards.

Starting with the top corner of the door trim, paint the side of the trim where it meets the wall. 

Complete this process until all edges of the trim are covered. 

Once all edges are covered, paint the remainder of the door trim.

Pro Tip: Tape off areas around the trim to make sure you get perfectly painted crisp lines.

Step 6: Analyse your work

Check to see if the surface looks fully covered- if it is then you are finished. 

If there are uneven patches or spots where the previous color is showing, apply a second coat. 

If you do need to apply a second coat, just make sure the first coat is left to try for at least 12 hours before beginning. 

Why are steel doors so popular? 

Why are steel doors so popular?

Ultimately, steel is the most popular type of garage door for many reasons. Steel doors are flexible, durable, and offer value for money. 

They are available in a wide range of design options and provide a more practical and cheaper alternative to natural wood.  

Compared to wooden garage doors, steel doors are a lot lighter and are a lot easier to maintain. They are more resistant to weather conditions and won’t warp or crack like that of wood.

However, bear in mind that steel is susceptible to corrosion. Rusting along the bottom section of a steel garage door is particularly common in areas where salt is used for de-icing in the winter months. 

Corrosion-resistant coatings are available to help with this but to preserve the life span of your door, wash it at least twice a year to remove build-ups of dirt. 

A quick guide to painting a steel door

Some steel doors, when new, come primed already meaning you will only have to apply an exterior metal paint on top of the primer coat. 

Other doors will come with a protective steel coating on them, protecting against rust, through a process called galvanization

Standard metal paint will not adhere properly to galvanized metal; the paint will begin to pe after a few days. 

We will go through the methods of painting a steel door that is either primed already or a door that has not been previously primed/painted. 


Give the doors and frames a good clean. You can use all-purpose soap and a clean cloth.

You want to remove any stains from the doors as they may alter the color of the finished paint in areas where stains aren’t fully removed. 

Once you are confident all stains are gone, wipe the surface with a clean cloth to remove any residue. Use sugar soap to degrease the door and allow it to dry. 

If your door has been previously painted, you will need to lightly sand the door to get rid of any rust or flaking paint. 

Key Insight: If you end up stripping back the surface to bare metal, the door will need to be primed again. 


Apply at least one coat of metal primer to the metal door and the frame. 

Following the manufacturers’ guidance, allow the primer to completely dry before you continue- this can take up to eight hours

If the door has previously been painted or primed, then you can skip this step. 


For a previously painted door, it is not recommended that you apply a topcoat straight on top of the old one, so you should use an undercoat first. 

Once the paint is open, use a stir stick to thoroughly mix the paint- do this for about one minute to even out the color. 

You can paint a metal garage door with a brush or roller. 

Apply a few coats of paint to ensure the metal is completely covered, but ensure you allow each coat to dry before applying another, which takes around two to four hours.

Keep in mind that applying several thin coats of paint is better than one thick coat. 

For a smoother finish after using a roller, run over the paint with a good quality paintbrush. 

Using a paintbrush will soften any harsh roller marks, giving you a smoother and shinier finish. Let it fully dry for up to 12 hours, and you are all done

Tip: If you plan to use a roller- try to use one with natural fibers rather than artificial ones to produce a smoother application.

We Hoped You Learned How to Paint a Garage Door

Like any paint project, applying the right amount of time is vital to getting the best results for your garage door. 

Check the equipment list to ensure you have the right materials and tools before you begin. 

Set aside two to three days to complete your project, checking temperatures and humidity levels are suitable. 

Carefully research your type of garage door, whether aluminum, metal, or wood, and pick out the appropriate primers and paints for the best possible application. 

Fancy sprucing up your wrought iron door, we have the perfect guide for you!

Also, if you need to paint your house and wonder how often to paint your house, we have just the article for you.

Here’s more helpful tips when painting your garage door. Make sure to watch the video that discusses refinishing a wood garage door.


  • You don’t need to buckbrush or backroll after spraying
Professional painters use airless and air-assisted sprayers for most applications. However, reading the instructions on the back of almost every paint can say that you should back brush/roll in order to achieve the desired look. Failing to back brush or roll can create adhesion issues, cause “flashing”, and can dry at different rates which can affect the finished look. Back brushing/rolling helps work the product evenly onto the surface. However, achieving cabinetry-like or automobile finishings doesn’t require back brushing/rolling when applied correctly.
  • You should always cut first and then roll
It’s good practice to cut your lines first and then roll the walls after. The reason is to eliminate brush marks and create a smooth nap finish from your roller. However there are many reasons painters may roll first and cut after, and it is not uncommon. Keep in mind factors like lighting, sheen level of the paint and the color of the paint all play a part in how the eye catches textures.
  • Paint can cover with 1 coat
Most of the time you need to apply 2 coats of paint to get the desired color and finish. However, some paint products are designed for 1 coat application. If you’re just sprucing up the existing colors, or you’re applying a similar color you can likely get away with one coat of paint. Always read the back of the paint can because the manufacturer’s warranty depends on their application recommendations.
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