Should I Paint an Exterior Door With Flat or Semi-Gloss Paint?

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Exterior paint, particularly if it's being used on a front door, needs to be both durable and attractive. Sheens run from flat to semi- and high-gloss. Flat paint may be suitable for a garage door, but any high-traffic entry, such as your front door, usually looks better painted in satin or semi-gloss. However, if you really want to put a flat paint on your front door, newer brands of flat or matte paints are stain resistant and washable.

Exterior Paint Sheens

  • Exterior paint is available in several sheens, depending on the manufacturer. High-gloss paint is not commonly used and is available in either water- or oil-based formulas. It is generally reserved for metal exterior accents like wrought iron or front doors. Semi-gloss paint is a popular choice for exterior trim, including doors. Low-sheen or satin is a versatile finish; used for siding that's in good condition or for trim. Flat paint is ideal for most types of siding and trim, but typically a poor choice for doors that see a lot of use, because it's not as stain resistant.

    Usually, the higher the sheen, the more stain-resistant and washable the finish. An exception are paints marketed as washable flat or matte paints, which have an extremely low sheen and look flat. Higher sheens reflect light and accentuate imperfections, while non-shiny paint deflects light and minimize imperfections.

Painting Exterior Doors

  • Garage, side and exterior doors that get little use may look best painted to match the siding. Painting a large area, like a garage door (which often faces the street), with semi-gloss paint creates some glare from sunlight, especially if it's textured or rough. The best choice for these doors is a quality flat exterior paint. Front doors don't have to match the rest of the house trim. They are often painted in a different color and gloss as a focal point. If your door is in good condition, it will probably look best painted with semi-gloss paint in a welcoming or fun color.

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