How to Paint a Metal Exterior Door

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Things You'll Need

  • Phillips head screwdriver

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • Paint roller

  • Paint roller pan

  • Paint sprayer

  • Scraper

  • Steel brush

  • 240 grit sanding paper

  • Oil-based primer

  • Oil-based paint

  • Disposable latex gloves

When you meet someone new, there's no way to make a second first impression. The same holds true for any home or business. One of the first things you see before entering the space is the front door, so time spent giving your metal exterior door a fresh coat of paint is time well spent. Although painting a metal exterior door is not complicated, it does take a moderate amount of planning and preparation.


Step 1

Remove the door from its hinges, and set out in a well ventilated work area on a pair of sawhorses or similar stable supports. Scrape away any loose paint, dirt, and debris using a wire brush and/or paint scraper, as necessary. It's important that no loose or cracked paint remains on the surface, so you may need to scrub the door with soap and water for best results.

Step 2

Remove all of the door's hardware, including lock sets, hinges, knob, strike plate, weatherstripping. and kick plates. This is also a good opportunity to replace the weatherstripping, if it's worn or damaged. Complete weatherstripping kits are widely available in home improvement centers, such as Lowe's or Home Depot.


Step 3

Choose a roller or sprayer, depending on the surface of your door. A roller is typically the best choice for flat surfaces. However, if your door has a more detailed surface, such as decorative panels or scrollwork, setting up a sprayer will be well worth the extra effort.

Step 4

Cover the door with a coat of quality oil-based primer. Although water-based primers and paints may be used on metal—and offer advantages such as easier cleanup—oil-based products offer superior adhesion and durability, according to Painting Your Primer drying times vary by product, but Valspar and Benjamin Moore products, for example, require 24 hours.


Step 5

Apply the first of two coats of paint to your door. When dry, as per the manufacturer's instructions, lightly sand with 240 grit sandpaper to remove any streaks or rough spots, brush surface clean of any dust or debris, and apply a second coat of paint. When you're satisfied with the quality of the finished job, re-install the hardware, re-hang, and enjoy your door's fresh new look.


Although care should be taken when using any form of paints, primers, and solvents, oil-based products contain much higher concentrations of potentially harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and should only be used in well ventilated areas.


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