How to Paint a Door

Painting a door can refresh the look of your home with minimal effort. Whether you’re aiming for a bold new color or a clean, crisp finish, the key to a successful door painting job lies in the right preparation and tools. In this article, we will explore three popular methods: using a foam roller, a brush, or a sprayer. We have tried all three and feel that each have pros and cons, but we personally like using a sprayer for the door because they provide the best finish.

Preparing the Door

Before you begin, remove the door from its hinges and lay it flat on sawhorses or a worktable. This allows for easier access to all areas of the door. It also prevents paint from getting all over the floors in your home. Clean the door thoroughly and sand down any rough spots. If it’s an exterior door, check for and repair any damages. Remember to protect the area around your workspace with drop cloths or newspapers.

Using a Foam Roller

Pros and Cons

Foam rollers provide a smooth finish and are ideal for flat doors without paneling. They absorb paint well and can cover large areas quickly. However, they might not be the best for doors with intricate designs or deep panels.


Start by applying primer if your door is unpainted or you’re changing colors drastically. Once the primer is dry, apply the paint in a thin, even coat. Roll in vertical strokes, overlapping each stroke slightly. Be careful around edges and hardware. Foam rollers can sometimes leave a bubbly texture, so it’s essential to use light, even pressure.

Using a Brush

Pros and Cons

Brushes offer precision and are excellent for doors with panels or detailed moldings. They can reach into crevices where rollers can’t. However, brushes can leave brush marks if not used correctly.


Use a high-quality brush with synthetic bristles for water-based paints and natural bristles for oil-based paints. Start from the center of the door and work your way out. Use even strokes and don’t overload the brush with paint to avoid drips. For a smoother finish, lightly drag the tip of the brush over the freshly painted area to even out brush strokes.

Using a Sprayer

Pros and Cons

Sprayers are fast and efficient, providing a professional, smooth finish. We love using and recommend and airless paint sprayer. They are particularly useful for doors with lots of detail. The downside is they require more preparation to protect surrounding areas from overspray, and they can be tricky to use without practice.


Ensure you’re in a well-ventilated area and cover everything nearby to protect from overspray. Practice on a scrap piece first to get the hang of it. Hold the sprayer 6 to 8 inches from the door and spray in a consistent, back-and-forth motion, overlapping each pass by about 50%. Apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat.


Cleaning up after painting a door involves different steps depending on whether you used a sprayer, foam roller, or paintbrush. For all methods, start by ensuring the door is dry and removing any painter’s tape or protective coverings. If you use a sprayer, it’s important to clean the nozzle and internal components with appropriate solvents to prevent clogging.

For foam rollers, remove excess paint by rolling it on scrap paper or a paint tray, then rinse the roller thoroughly with water if using water-based paint, or mineral spirits for oil-based paints.

Brushes require a gentle cleaning with soap and warm water for water-based paints, or a solvent for oil-based paints, followed by reshaping the bristles and allowing them to dry. Properly disposing of any leftover paint and cleaning solutions is also important to minimize environmental impact. Remember to wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area during the cleanup process.

Final Thoughts

Each method – foam roller, brush, or sprayer – has its advantages depending on the door’s style and the finish you desire. Always start with a well-prepared surface and don’t rush the process.

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