How to Prime a Metal Door for Painting

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It's frustrating to see the results of a bad paint job wielded by your hand. If you're unhappy with the way a metal door looks before or after painting, it may just have to do with the priming. When you prime a metal door, painting almost always looks better, and you also ward off rust for a longer time.

Things You'll Need

  • Fine sandpaper
  • Cleaner such as TSP
  • Metal primer product
  • Paint brush or roller
  • Prepare a metal door by removing as much flaking paint as you can, and then sand it with fine sandpaper.

  • Clean the door with a cleansing product like TSP. Some people get good results cleaning with mineral spirits or a glass cleaner, followed by plain water.

  • Take the door off its hinges if you can, for ease in working. Lay it across sawhorses.

  • Realize that many metal doors come with a factory-applied primer, leaving you to just spot prime any bare metal. If not, plan to prime the entire door with a metal primer product like Rustoleum. Many rust-inhibiting products are oil-based.

  • Get a tinted primer, if you want. Basic primer comes in white, but you can have tint added to match your shade of paint.

  • Use a roller or paintbrush to apply primer so that paint adheres to the door better. Work quickly because the paint will start to get tacky and then you will have problems.

  • Wait until primer is completely dry before painting.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't want to tape up a doorknob, remove it from the door until after painting.
  • Dampen rollers and brushes before using to reduce tool marks on the metal door.

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