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  • Writer's pictureDevon Kmet

How to paint a metal exterior door

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

The front door to our home is one of the first things people notice when visiting or driving by. Metal exterior doors are also weatherproof, deterrent to rot, keeps the bugs away and keeps us safe. With that being said, even the best door will lose some luster over time. The good news is that with our tips on how to paint a metal exterior door, your front door will look brand new and your curb appeal will get a boost.

Before you begin painting your exterior metal door

There are a few things to consider before you paint your door;

  • If your home was built prior to 1978 and your exterior metal door is from the original build, it may contain lead. You can check this with a lead paint test kit, most hardware stores carry them and are inexpensive.

  • You will want to decide if you are leaving the door on the hinges or removing it. We recommend removing the door if possible as it will allow for easier application and a smoother finish. If you plan on removing the door, keep in mind that the door will be very heavy so it may take more than one person. Also, if you are unable to finish the project in one day you will need to put something up in the meantime for security and to keep the elements at bay.

  • The best door paints for exterior metal doors are high quality exterior acrylic paint with gloss to semi-gloss paint sheens. If your door is brand new it may already have primer on it, if not you will want to buy an exterior primer for the door as well. You can skip the primer if you buy a DTM (direct to metal) paint which will stick to metal without primer, but this option is a bit more expensive.

  • Before you choose a color you may want to consider getting some ideas. Drive around a few neighborhoods to see what colors jump out at you, look online for inspiration and see what is trending.

What equipment and materials you need to paint a metal exterior door

Equipment and materials you will need;

  • Foam roller (trim size roller)

  • 2” paint brush

  • Fine grit sandpaper/sandpaper block

  • Saw horses or a way to keep the door off the ground while painting

  • Screwdriver or drill

  • Sponge

  • Dusk mask and safety goggles

  • Hammer

  • Paint tray

  • Painters tape

  • Paint

  • Primer if needed

  • Degreaser

  • Towels

Step by step guide to painting an exterior metal door

Step 1. Remove the door from its hinges. You can do this by placing a screwdriver under the hinge pin and lightly tapping with a hammer until it comes out. Repeat with all hinges and remove the door. Keep in mind it is heavy so make sure you have help if needed. (If you are leaving the door on you can skip this step)

Step 2. Once you remove the door, lay it onto the saw horses or table. Remove any weatherstripping. Remove all hardware (door knob, locks and hinges) or place painters tape over anything you do not want painted. If you have windows on your door you can place newspaper over them with painters tape to protect them from getting painted.

Step 3. Wash the entire door with a degreaser or cleaner and dry completely with towels.

Step 4. You will want your dust mask and safety glasses for this step. Lightly sand the door with either sandpaper or sandpaper block to remove old paint. Wipe off all debris with a damp towel and dry completely.

** If your door is brand new and primed do not sand the door, skip this step.**

Step 5. Apply primer using the short trim style foam roller. If you have panels on your door you will want to use the paint brush first in those areas then the roller on the flat areas. You will usually need at least 2 coats of primer. Make sure the primer dries completely before moving on to the next step.

**If you have a primed door you can skip this step.**

Step 6. Paint your door. Follow the same steps you did with the primer. You will want at least 2 coats of paint. Make sure you allow for proper drying times in between coats.

Step 7. Once everything is dry you can remove the painters tape. Replace all the hardware and weatherstripping on the door and re-hang the door.

When to call a professional

Painting can be a large task for anyone to take on. Removing a large metal exterior door is heavy and without the proper help or tools you will want to call in a professional handyman to help with the job. Give our Professional painters a call, we will be able to get the job done quickly and efficiently allowing you to be worry free.


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