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How to Paint a Metal Front Door

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Metal front doors don’t get damaged by weather, insects, or rot, and they are a big deterrent to burglars. But over time, even the strongest metal front door will lose some of its shine. You can paint over a metal front door to give it back its shine and charm, which will make it look much better from the street.

How to Paint a Metal Front Door

Paint a Metal Front Door

Before Starting

Choose whether you want to leave the front door in place or take it off. You don’t have to take off a metal door to paint it. But removing a door and painting it flat is better because it prevents drips and lets you get to hard-to-reach places.

The problem is that metal entry doors are very heavy and hard to take off and put back on. Also, you need to finish a painting in one day or have a plan for locking up your house safely at the end of the day if you don’t finish.

Even though taking the door off takes some time and work, it is the best way to do it because the door will look cleaner and smoother.

What kind of paint works best on metal doors?

Metal door in direct sun: Use an oil-based exterior paint to paint a metal front door that gets a lot of suns. If you use oil-based exterior paint on a door that faces the harsh sun, it won’t bubble or fade.

Metal door in the indirect sun: If your door isn’t in the direct path of strong sunlight, paint your metal front door with two or more coats of high-quality exterior acrylic-latex paint. Paint with a higher gloss is easier to clean and lasts longer. Paint your front door with semi-gloss or gloss paint.

Many new exterior doors already have primer on them. If that’s the case, you can put the paint right on the door.

Bare metal door: If the surface is bare metal or has bare spots, you will need to use a metal primer before painting the door. You can also use direct-to-metal paint (DTM). DTM paint doesn’t need to be primed to stick to metal.

Interior metal door: You can use high-quality acrylic latex interior paint with good blocking resistance on the inside of your metal door or on the inside of your metal front door (blocking resistance will eliminate two painted surfaces sticking together, such as when the door is closed and in contact with the jamb.)

Think about safety

Any door that was painted before 1978 may have lead paint, which is dangerous when sanded or otherwise roughed up.

1 Before going any further with this project, test the paint with a lead paint test kit.

What You Need to Know

  • Equipment / Tools
  • Foam roller
  • 2″ paintbrush
  • Block for sanding
  • Sawhorses (or 2×4 blocks and table) (or 2×4 blocks and a table)
  • Cordless drill and driver bits
  • Bucket
  • Scrub pad
  • Kitchen gloves
  • Towels
  • Materials
  • Exterior acrylic latex paint
  • Metal primer
  • Tape for painters
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) or a replacement

How to Paint a Front Door Made of Metal

Remove Door

For hinges with pins that can be taken out, put a nail set or an upside-down nail at the bottom of the hinge and tap it lightly up and down. Then manually take out the pin.

For hinges with pins that can’t be taken out, open the door and put blocks under it to hold it up. Get someone to hold the door while you take the hinges off the door frame.

Put the door flat

With the help of someone else, move the door to sawhorses or a big table. If you’re using a table, put short 2×4 blocks under the door to raise it so you can reach its edges better. Cover the 2×4 blocks with old towels to protect the door.

Take away hardware

Unscrew the doorknob, lock, and any other hardware that goes with them. Take off any door numbers, hinges, mail slot frames, or other things that won’t be painted.

Clean Door

Trisodium phosphate (TSP) needs to be mixed with warm water in a bucket to work. Scrub the door well, especially the side that faces the outside, while wearing kitchen gloves. When you’re done, rinse.


Some places don’t let people use phosphates.

2 If yours does, you can use liquid TSP substitute, which works almost as well as TSP.

Sand Door

A metal door needs to be sanded before it can be painted. Doors that have been painted before may have paint that is peeling or cracked. You can scrape or sand this paint off, but be careful not to scratch the metal. Don’t sand factory-primed doors. When you sand or scrape the paint off, clean the door again.

Tape Door

Tape off the parts of the door that won’t be painted with painter’s tape. To make sure the tape sticks, press hard on the edge with your fingernail or a plastic putty knife.


Instead of putting the tape right on the angle where two surfaces meet at a 90-degree angle, you’ll get sharper lines if you move the tape back about 1/16 to 1/8 inch.

Use the primer

If your metal door needs primer, use a paintbrush to apply the primer to small areas or areas that are textured or shaped. Then, use the foam roller to add one to two coats of primer. Between coats, give the primer 30 to 60 minutes to dry.

Paint Door

Before putting the color coat on the door, brush the paint on places that are narrow or bumpy. Use the foam roller on areas that are large and flat. Keep the roller as dry as you can to get a flat coat with no drips.

After letting the first coat dry for about two to three hours, apply a second coat to the door. Read the instructions from the manufacturer to find out how long you should wait between coats of paint on a metal door. In general, you may need to wait six hours between coats of paint, but a metal door will usually be completely dry after 12 hours.

Change the hardware

Replace the doorknob, hinges, and any other hardware when the door is completely dry. Help each other put the door in place while putting it on the hinges.

When You Should Call a Pro

It can be hard to do a good job of applying high-gloss paint because the gloss makes flaws look bigger. For this or if the door needs to be fixed before it can be painted, call a professional painter. Pros can also help speed up the process so that, if necessary, the job can be done in a single day.


How do you seal a metal door that’s been painted?

Look for a clear coating that can be used on metal that has been painted on the outside. A good coating will protect against things like rust, corrosion, fading, UV rays that can cause damage, and other natural things.

How do you avoid brush marks when painting a metal door?

If you don’t want brush marks, use a foam roller or paint sprayer instead of a brush. You can also paint the door when the humidity is low.

Can you paint a metal front door with spray paint?

Metal can be sprayed painted, but only in certain ways. To keep the paint from getting everywhere, you should take the door off and spray it in a safe place. You’ll still have to get the door ready to be painted. You could use a paint sprayer, but that tool is usually more useful for bigger jobs. If you use spray paint from a can, you will probably need more than one can to finish the job.