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How to Paint Interior Doors

A contractor painting a wooden door

Table of Contents

Doors are the entrances and exits to rooms, and they have a very significant aesthetic to your home. Whether it’s giving your door a fresh coat or repainting it, a new look would give your house the small change it needs.

Painting doors can be very intimidating; preparation is required, whether they are wooden or the cabinets from your bathroom. With just the right steps, you could get any door in your house, and even your neighbor’s looking brand new.

So, continue reading this blog post on How to Paint Interior Doors, for a simplistic step-by-step guide to getting you started on your new endeavor.

Where do I begin?

You’re probably holding your waist, starting at your door, wondering where you’ll begin. Don’t let this overwhelming feeling bring you down, as with just a few steps and checklists, this could become your favorite DIY activity.

Know your door

A wooden panelled door

Before you can consider getting into How to Paint Interior Doors, it is crucial that you know which type of door you’re dealing with and the type of paint on it if it has one.

There’s a wide range of interior doors, but below is a quick overview of the most popular choices.

Interior doors:

Type of Interior DoorProperties 
Flush doorsThe most simplistic type, flush doors have flat and plain surfaces and usually come with a solid, stave, or hollow core. 
Panel doorsPanel doors have a pattern that either runs vertically or horizontally. Typically the panels on the doors are usually raised. 
Cottage doorsUsually made from oak, a cottage door is a hard door style. Cottage doors have vertical planks that run down the entire door length. 
Ledged doorsLike their cottage counterparts, ledged doors have the same vertical plank with a horizontal ledge on one side. 

Current Paint Coat

If your interior door has any paint on it, it’s vital that you know what type of paint it is. Before painting, run a test to see the kind of paint on your door.

Dip a clean cloth in rubbing alcohol and rub it against the door surface. If the paint is left on the cloth, the paint is latex paint, and if not, it is oil-based.

If you have an old house, it is important to check for led as paint used then contained led. You can buy a led testing kit and follow the necessary steps to remove the paint safely.

🔁Roundup: Dip a cloth into some rubbing alcohol and choose a patch on your door. If there is paint on your material, it’s latex paint. If not, it’s oil-based.

How to Paint Interior Doors: Type of Paint

To get a durable paint finish, selecting the right paint is essential. However, when choosing your paint type, have an idea of what type of finish you require.

Flat or matte paints

These give the least shiny finishes and require the least number of coats to cover imperfections.

Although they hide imperfections and marks, they aren’t recommended for their high durability.

⚠️Be careful: Flat or matte paints can be damaged by thorough cleaning, so they are advisable for areas that aren’t subject to much activity.

Eggshell paints

Eggshell paints provide a more shiny look than matte paints.

They are more durable than matte paints but are used in areas with low activity.

Satin paints

This type of paint is often picked for its easy cleaning compared to an eggshell finish.

They can be used in areas with lots of activity but leave more brush marks than eggshell or matte paints.

Semi-gloss paints

These are shiny and reflective and are easier to clean. They are mildew resistant and can be used in areas subject to high moisture levels such as behind your toilet.

Gloss paints

Glossy paints provide the shiniest and most durable paint coats. They are easily washable and can handle a good scrubbing.

They are used for areas with a lot of action, like doors and cabinets.

🧠Bear in Mind: They leave many imperfections when not properly handled and require good prep work.

How to Choose Your Paintbrush

Invest in a good paintbrush for the best finish. Bad quality paintbrushes leave brush bristles and paint streaks behind.

Brushes come in all sizes and tips. Angled brushes are suitable for painting decorative surfaces such as panel doors. 

A selection of paintbrushes for article how to paint interior doors
Paintbrushes:
Natural BristleThey’re defined as top-quality brushes that are designed for oil-based paints.
Synthetic BristlesThis brush is made from nylon or polyester and is primarily used for latex-based paints. Thicker paints may cause bristles to shed.
Flagged BrushThe bristle tips on a flagged brush are split. They are usually used with latex paint as they hold more paint and leave fewer paint streaks.

Should I Remove my Door Before I Paint?

Whether you choose to remove your door or not before painting is entirely down to individual decisions. However, it is essential to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both of the options.

Leaving your door attached has some advantages. For instance, leaving the door attached can save you a lot more time as you will be able to paint both sides of the door while one side dries, whereas removing your door will not allow you to do this.

However, painting your door while unhinged makes you pay more attention to more minor, more defined details, like even paint coats or small dents or holes.

Bear in mind that detaching the door can create implications. Removing doors from their hinges can cause the frames to shift, meaning the door may not fit when put back.

Step by Step: How to Paint Interior Doors:

To get started on how to paint interior doors, you’ll need a few household items and others that you could get in a hardware store or online.

We are always looking for a bargain, but you need good quality tools for a quality paint job when painting your doors. Investing in good tools is essential, as they might also come in handy during your next project.

Before your begin:

Paints contain VOCs(Volatile Organic Compounds), harmful to human health. To minimize the risk of adverse health conditions, you need to wear safety equipment and ensure the room is adequately aerated.

Remove any items close to the door that may be subjected to splatters when painting. Cover the area under the door or the place you’ll be painting on with rosin paper and hold it down with painter’s tape.

Remove Original Paint Coat- Solvent

Use the appropriate solvent to remove the current paint coat. Oil-based paints come off when mineral spirits are used to rub off the paint, and latex-based paints can be removed with rubbing alcohol or ammonia.

The solvent softens the paint, allowing you to scrape off the paint using a scraper, and you can use a cloth to wipe off the remaining paint.

Liquid de-glossers can be used to remove the paint layer, especially where sandpaper can’t reach.

Remove Original Paint Coat- Sandpaper

Use 80-120 grit sandpaper( to sand the surface of the door. This efficiently removes the paint but can be very messy.

A vacuum cleaner or a tack cloth will remove the dust and paint particles after sanding.

Remember to sand along the surface of the grain or in one direction if you are unsure. Sanding the door surface also gives the paint a rough surface to adhere to.

Fill Your Holes

Wood fillers are used to fill in any holes or cracks on the door. You can also use wood putty or sawdust mixed with wood glue.

Sand the filled surface to leave an even surface and clean up using a tack cloth.

Clean the Surface

Use a strong cleaning agent such as TSP to clean the door surface thoroughly. This removes any dirt, dust, grease, and grime that may have built upon the surface.

Check to see that the paint or primer you will use can be used after using the TSP solution. Some primers cannot be used after TSP solution has been used to clean the surface.

Wash it after with warm water and soap solution to remove the cleaning agent. After it dries, rinse with warm water to remove any soap solution left.

Cover or Remove Hardware

Use painter’s tape to cover up door handles or hooks on the door before painting.

You can alternatively use a screwdriver to remove them.

📝Remember: Label and store handle and hooks safely to make it simple when putting them back.

Prime the Surface

If your door is already new or you’re simply refreshing a previous coat with the same paint type, this step can be skipped.

Priming is necessary if you are working with a new un-primed door or painting a door with oil-based paint and using latex paint.

Priming helps to create a surface for the paint to attach. It fills the wood pores to create an even surface for a smooth finish.

Use a roller or 4” paintbrush to apply primer on the larger surfaces and work your way down a 2” paintbrush for the edges.

🔥Hot Tip: Start with the edges and work your way towards the middle for an even spread.

Use a brush to cover wet drip marks and sand any dried drops to leave you with a smooth surface ready for painting. If you had to sand your surface remember to use a tack cloth after sanding.

Paint the Door

Thin the paint with the appropriate solvent to make it less viscous. If you are using mineral spirits or paint thinners, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area.

Dip most of the tip of your brush into the paint and paint in short, light strokes. Use a paintbrush to paint over drips along the edges of the brush. You can also use it to feather the edges of the paint strokes to even out the hard edges.

Leave the first coat to dry as indicated on the paint can. Applying more paint before the first coat cures can cause your paint to peel.

Following the same steps set out above, apply your second coat. Gently sand over any dried drip marks and retouch any blemishes with a light layer of paint.

🎓Experts Tip: Don’t be shy to press the paintbrush or roller on the surface. This will get paint into pores or crevices you might have missed in the first coat.

Clean Up

The whole painting process is bound to leave you with paint spots here and there and accumulate wood particles from sanding. Most of these will collect on the rosin paper, and you can remove it to leave a relatively neat surface.

Assemble the door hardware placing each item in the respective places. Clean your doors carefully- you don’t want to damage your freshly coated interior door.

After this, you are set to go! Hopefully, our guide on how to paint interior doors has been helpful, and you can rejuvenate all your inside doors!

Conclusion on How to Paint Interior Doors:

Ready for your next DIY task? If yes then check out our range of blog posts from painting garage doors to brick and concrete, baseboards to ceilings, and even your siding too!

Interested in the difference between interior and exterior paint? Or are you wondering if you can use exterior paint indoors? We have a wide range of guides to kickstart your DIY careers!

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