Paint your front door...the right way!

Thank goodness I got this chore done last week when it was in the 60s. Yesterday we had rain, sleet, ice, snow AND thunder...all in a thirty minute span.  And then MORE ice, sleet and snow.  I am sooooo ready for spring this year!

When I bought this house, I had a plain ole' metal "builder" grade door.  I hated that thing. Not only was it ugly and had zero character, but I might as well have had a window open on cold windy days. Miserable.  

So years ago I bought and installed an awesome fiberglass "mission style" door. You could buy the little shelf thingy that went under the window, but I liked the simplicity of it without the shelf! It has a "fake" wood grain on both the interior and exterior sides. I love that it lets a tad of light in, and I am able to see who is at my door without having to install an ugly peep hole.  I removed the entire frame of the existing door and bought and installed this "prehung" door.  "Pre-hung" doors come in the frame and you just slip it into the existing framing...sounds easy, huh? New frame, trim and exterior brick mold...lots of foam insulation...and this puppy is air tight! 

I painted it black. Occasionally I get a bug and contemplate painting it a bright funky color...maybe a pretty teal color.  But my home exterior is a very "traditional" red brick, so I decided to stick with a traditional Blah, I know...

But over the years, colors tend to fade...and doors get a lot of wear and tear.  People may never see your laundry room or bathroom or closet...but they will see your front door EVERY time! Keep it in good shape!

This Christmas I put one of those "rub on" decals that said "Merry Christmas" across the door.  When I peeled it off a few chips of paint came with it.  No biggy...the door needed to be painted anyway!  Perfect opportunity to go with a bright funky color...right?

Nope. Black. Again. I'm boring, I know!

So today I am going to share with you how to freshen up your front door...whether you stick with a blah color or decide to go with bright and funky!  Makes no difference. (I say go with the bright funky!)

Usually I paint interior doors and trim with oil-based paints but I decided to go with a latex interior-exterior paint.  No earth shattering reason....just did. I bought a premixed black because black is a really tough color to have custom mixed and besides...I just want plain ole' black. 

Before you start painting, make sure you give the door a good cleaning...if nothing more than a wipe down with a damp lint free cloth to get the dust off.  Scrub with water and a mild detergent if it is really dirty. Just make sure you wipe it down with clear water to remove the detergent residue! Paint will not stick to some soap/cleaner residues and it will not stick to oils and dirt!

The first thing I had to do was deal with the "chips" from the decal. If you just paint the entire door, chips and all, the chips are still going to "show" through.  The best way to deal with that is lightly "sand" the spot with steel wool to feather out the edges a tiny bit.

Then take a small brush and dab a little paint over the area.  Don't "glob".... just kind of "prime" the area with a coat of paint.

If you have rust on a steel door, you need to sand the rusted area smooth, wipe it with mineral spirits and then prime it with a primer specifically designed to seal the rust BEFORE you paint. Ask...they have it!

This is also a good time to remove any old kick plates, door knockers and such you might want to get rid of. Just remove them, fill any holes with wood filler, let it dry, then sand and prime.  This may add a little time to the process, but this is the time to do it!

Some kick plates and knockers are applied with adhesives...just pop them off and then use mineral spirits to remove the adhesive stuck on the door.

And of course, if the door is "raw wood" or has never been painted, you will want to use a good exterior primer on the entire door before applying your paint! You will want to tape BEFORE you do this!

Tape off any windows, peep holes, hinges, knobs, etc.  I have found the green "Frog" tape is totally awesome.  A little more expensive than regular ole' masking tape, but really worth it in the long run.

TAPE OFF THE HINGES! Nothing is uglier than painted hinges...unless they have already been painted...then whatever! Easiest way to tape a hinge is to lay a piece of tape over the entire hinge, then take your utility knife (with a VERY sharp blade) and trim the hinge...presto! Also, make sure you run a piece of tape down the edges of the door you won't be painting...that way you don't risk making a mess on the inside white edge of your door when you are painting the outside that funky bright color!!!

TIP!!! I see people make this glaring mistake ALL the time.  What color do you paint the edges of the door, if the front and back are two different colors?  Here is the rule...stand directly in front of the side of the door you are painting and open your door a tad....the edge you see should be painted the same color as the side you are painting.  

Example...if I am standing outside looking at the outside of my door while it is open, I see the "hinge edge." Therefore, the hinge edge is to be the same color as the front of my door.  If I am standing on the inside, facing the inside of the door, I see the "latch edge."  Therefore the latch edge would be the same color as the inside of my door.

This "rule" applies to all doors...paint or stain...interior or exterior! Hope that makes sense!

Not a huge biggy for me because I have painted all the interior doors black...but I used oil base on the inside, so I taped off the edge.

ANOTHER TIP!  I know I have probably posted this tip before, but it bares repeating.  When opening a new can of paint, stain or finish, take a small nail and a hammer and punch little holes along the INSIDE rim of the open can.  That way, when you pour the paint or wipe your brush on the edge, any paint that settles in the rim will drip back down into the can, rather than end up on your face and walls when you hammer the lid back on. And it keeps paint from gumming up on the edge and making it impossible to open the can again in the future!

Okay, so the door is clean, the "chips" and rust are primed, everything is taped off, and we are ready to paint.

There are several good references on the web as to "how to" paint a door...which direction to brush or roll. The best advice I can give is ALWAYS paint WITH the grain!  In my case, my doors all have "fake" grains. Not all doors do, and if yours does not, you can use this reference I found here...

For ALL doors, especially "flat" doors with no grain, I highly recommend the 4" sponge rollers.  I use a brush to get in the corners and such, but then I go back and roll as much as I can.  Brushes are good, and a good brush can make a world of different.  But the little foam rollers leave a nice "smooth" finish. And remember, latex paints dry a LOT faster than oil-based, so the paint doesn't have a lot of time to "level" other words, smooth out on it's own. If you leave brush strokes, there is a good chance they will be there when the paint dries. 

And the REALLY awesome thing...sponge rollers are cheap and you can toss them rather than clean them!

Again, I always add a little Floetrol additive to latex paints (Penetrol for oil-based) just to help the paint go on a little smoother! 

Now paint!  Follow the chart if you have to, but again, go with the grain!

I only had to put one coat on my door since I wasn't changing the color.  If you are changing your color or the door has never been painted, you need to put on two coats!  Follow the direction on the paint for dry time!

TIP: When painting doors, or anything you have taped off, CAREFULLY remove the tape while the paint is still wet. I usually do this right after I clean my brush.  If you wait until the paint dries, you risk "peeling" the paint off the surface.  Huge mess...just trust me!

And there you have it! A fresh front door ready for that spring decor...provided it ever warms up again!

Check out the tutorial HERE on how to paint your address on your front door...the RIGHT way!