​​How to Paint Interior Doors: A Step-by-Step Guide

When you want to know how to glide through one of the most common DIY interior decor jobs without a worry in the world, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s everything you need to know at a glance: 

  • Preparation is key — give yourself space to work and your paintwork enough airflow to dry properly 
  • Sand until the surface is smooth if you want to achieve the pristine finish you’ve seen in the paint catalogue 
  • You can beat those annoying brush marks by gently wetting the door’s surface prior to painting 
  • Primer is the perfect foundation when you want to give your home a facelift 
  • Smooth even strokes on a brush that’s not overloaded with paint is the way to go 

If you want to give into the details and see why we’re advocating this rather precise approach, keep reading! 

Also read; 10 Tips for Successful Exterior Painting

Preparation, preparation, preparation 

There’s an old saying that if you fail to prepare then you must prepare to fail. While we don’t want to stress you out about the potential difficulties of DIY, preparation is absolutely key here. 

Something as simple as giving yourself enough space to work quickly and comfortably will massively reduce the chance of spillages, drip marks and brush marks.

You’ll also find the process so much less stressful when you have room to move and you’re not climbing over stuff to get into position. 

We keep things simple by clearing a two metre space either side of the door and laying a sheet down to protect the floor. Little drips will always happen, so let the sheet catch them and save yourself some hard work afterwards when it’s time to clean up. 

Keep your doors on their hinges, put your paint pot in a tray and make sure your brush is both clean and dry.

A crusty old brush will add unwanted tints into your paintwork when flakes break off, while a soaking wet brush you’ve just brought back to life will thin out the paint and change how it dries. 

Also read; How Long Does Paint Take to Dry?

Start sanding and don’t cut corners 

A medium grade sandpaper will take any rough edges and tough surfaces from knots in pine doors off, before a finer grade adds the finishing touches. This might be a little dusty and boring when you want to get on and paint, but it’s the only way to achieve the same quality finish you saw in the catalogue. 

Rough wood that hasn’t been sanded down sufficiently will lead to rough, flaky looking paintwork no matter how carefully you apply the top coat. Spend a few extra minutes on this stage and then enjoy an interior transformation that’s everything you wanted it to be. 

Lay out your materials 

You’ll have to put your nice clean brush away and put the lid back on your paint while sanding so you don’t get dust and sawdust everywhere. Now that your door is as smooth as anything, go into the other room and bring your painting kit back in. 

You won’t need a step ladder until you do the very top edge of the door that faces the underside of the door frame, so keep it out of the way until then. Have your paint pot where you know you won’t knock it over and then go and get a damp cloth from the kitchen. You’re almost ready to start painting. 

Lightly wet the surface of the door 

You might think this is a bit of a strange thing to do, especially when we said to make sure your recently cleaned brush is nice and dry so it doesn’t mess up the paint. 

The key thing to know here is that just a little dampness on your door will extend the drying time for the paint just enough to give you the perfect amount of time to apply it.

You’re always going to end up brushing over previously painted sections of the door when you reload your brush — there’s no avoiding that. If the paint dries too fast, you’ll leave brush marks that will spoil the finish. 

Also read; How To Remove Dry Paint From Brick

A little extra moisture added to the surface really will make all the difference and make sure nothing is missed when it comes to the quality of the finish. 

Apply your primer!

applying primer on the door surface

You’re now all set to transform your interiors, with the next step being reaching for your tin of primer. It’s added before the final coat of paint to improve adhesion, increase durability and resistance to knocks and scratches, and to help smooth out the final finish. 

While it can be tempting to skip this step, the results of using primer will always speak for themselves. Think about it as a practice run for the real thing and you won’t mind doing it as much. Just make sure you check the drying time on the tin so you can give it enough time to do its thing. 

If you’re painting on top of existing oil-based paint, you’ll always need a primer. Perhaps a little confusingly you can skip the primer step if you’re painting directly onto latex-based paint. No idea how to tell the difference? Connect with our experts and we can handle everything for you. 

Start painting but remember doors don’t have 2 sides…

They have 6!

A common mistake is to miss the edges of the door, particularly along the top where it’s often out of sight and out of mind.

Paint isn’t just about aesthetics — it’s about protecting the underlying wood from damage, damp and rot in more extreme cases. 

Also read; Interior Wood Paint – How to Paint Interior Wood Work Like a Pro

Work in smooth continuous strokes, gliding back and forth on the wood with a gentle amount of pressure. If you find you’re scrubbing the paint on, your brush isn’t loaded enough.

But if you find big dribbles of paint that keep flowing down the door, your brush is overloaded. 

Take your time and don’t put yourself under pressure to race through the job — you’ll get the hang of it in no time. And if all this sounds too much like hard work, call the experts and we’ll do it all while you sit back and relax. Job done! 

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Advanced Painters

Advanced Painters are professional painters and decorators in the Home Counties. From exterior painting and rendering, to uPVC window spray painting and interior decorating, we produce high quality finishes that will transform the appearance of your property.

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