How to be a Master Metal Door Painter in 7 Easy Steps

You’re about to tackle for the first time painting a metal door. If you’ve already had experience with any painting project, you’re not exactly rarin’ to go, which is why I have prepared this tutorial for you, so you can do a professional job with little fuss, and get a beautiful result. Painting is hard work, the reason you’re on this site, hoping to find information to help you out. You’re in good hands because I’ve been there, so let’s forge ahead.

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Before we get down to the nitty-gritty on how to paint a metal door, here are some benefits you will experience once you’ve completed the job:

  • ​Steel doors are an excellent barrier against weather.
  • They are so durable that you can expect them to last forever.
  • If correctly painted a metal door will need little maintenance over time.
Preparation

I know the learn-as-you-go approach can frustrate the beejezus out of you. How do you avoid those pesky brush strokes marring a perfect paint job? If you’re a perfectionist you want to get it right, and following this tutorial will get you there frustration-free.

Let’s get organized assembling the following:

Prepping the Paint Job

Step 1: Removal

Rusty Hinge

Rusty Hinge

Remove lock hardware, strike and kick plates, door knockers, and hinges (for a detached door).

Remove weather stripping (use masking tape if you can’t remove to protect the weather stripping).

Remove excessive window glazing. Score glazing near window frame with a fresh single-edge razor blade, cautiously scraping glazing away from the surface so as not to cut the frame.

Finally wipe away glazing using denatured alcohol (for silicone), or mineral spirits (for sticky glazing).

Step 2: Cleaning and Masking

Cleaning

Your door’s surface must be clean for optimal painting results. Two methods can be used:

  • A mild cleanser.
  • A fresh rag soaked with denatured alcohol.

Masking

Mask your glass as well as anything else needing protection from the paint.

Step 3: Sanding the Surface

Your metal door’s surface must be free of pits and unsightly scratches. First, sand the imperfections with 80–100-grit sandpaper for better adhesion.

Next, apply an auto-body filler. Let the filler protrude above the damaged surface a little. When dry, sand the area until the entire surface blends into the area around it.

Begin with 100-grit sandpaper to get most of the filler removed. Switch to 150-grit and finally 220-grit or finer. Check for grainy edges or serious scratches.

To refine the appearance of the door surface, spray a little primer to accentuate whatever defects remain. Repeat filling and sanding so the repair is invisible after you prime.

Next, you’ll need to lightly sand the complete door, whether it’s new or not. It will be worth the extra effort when you see how professional a job you’ve done. For this task, use 120-150-grit, or a medium-fine sanding sponge.

Step 4: Sanding the Frame

Use a medium-fine sanding sponge for new frames, and hand-sand for already-painted frames in good condition. Use a power-palm sander for removing loosened paint and heavily-painted edges.

Step 5: Priming Your Door and Wood Frame

As any professional painter will tell you a primer needs to be applied to a new door, particularly the wood frame. Use a universal quick-drying oil-base primer. If your metal door has already been painted, and the finish has taken a beating you need to prime.

It’s not a good idea to apply acrylic-based paint over oil-based paint. You prime first, including the frame’s unfinished wood, and any visible metal. Either an aerosol or regular primer will give good results. Make sure you pick a good-quality primer.

Review your work because once you’re in the middle of painting and see a noticeable imperfection there’s no turning back.

Step 6: Painting Your Metal Door

There are three methods of painting a metal door:

1. Brush Method

Brush Method

This is the most common and cost-effective way to paint your metal door. The drawback is trying to avoid too-noticeable brush strokes. You can make this easier if you use a tradesman’s paint brush.

2. Roller Method

Roller Method

Using a roller is not hard to become skilled at, and is also cost-effective. You can easily control the application by picking the correct-size roller and a short-nap cover. Using the roller method will reveal a refined, smooth-textured finish.

3. Spray Method

Spray Method

For the optimal finish, a spray painter is your best bet. The cons of this method are a costlier outlay for tools; more time required to do the job; and you must have some practice to use this tool effectively.

Step 7: Painting Your Metal Door Frame and Sidelights

To make efficient use of your time, paint the frame as you wait for each coat of paint to dry. If you follow the usual way of painting a metal door, you will use both an interior (inside) and exterior (outside) paint. Finish using one color before moving on to the other.

Two approaches exist for painting your metal door:

  • Start with the interior color, if you dislodged the door from the frame. This is the hardest to paint if the door is still attached.
  • If you’re eager to see results sooner, you can paint the exterior first.The approach to begin painting is to do the header first. Next, paint one side before moving on to the other side, painting down from the header.

Note: don’t forget to mask the hinges and striker plates if you haven’t removed the door for painting. To do the sidelights you can either brush or spray paint (don’t forget to mask them).

Pro Tips

  • • The type of color you use will decide how long your paint job will last: dark colors fade quickly, especially red. To avoid painting too often, pick light colors. Another fade-factor is the finish. Metal doors absorb the sun’s heat, causing the finish to erode. Using paler brown-tinged colors will protect longer against direct sunlight.
  • • 100% acrylic paints are superior to oil-based paints on metal doors. This is because premium exterior acrylic paints better resist the sun’s impact.
  • • Before re-installing your metal door apply a little dab of caulk to fasten the kick plate. It will perform like a gasket, avoiding moisture build-up underneath the kick plate. Moisture can erode the paint and rust the metal.

VIDEO: How to Repaint Steel Doors

Conclusion

I’d like to hear from you if you’ve enjoyed learning about how to paint a metal door. Detailing the step-by-step process has been vital to me because painting is hard, sweaty work, a real calorie-burner (don’t I know because I’ve been there!)

You want the experience of painting a metal door to go as smoothly as possible, and this is what I’ve tried to accomplish in preparing this tutorial for you.

On another note, paint can sometimes be better off of your walls/ceilings, which is mostly the case of popcorn ceilings. If you have this problem, feel free to see our removal tutorial here.

Please add your comments below on what you think of the tutorial. And please share if you’ve derived value from reading it. Thanks!

Emma Clark

Hey there! My name is Emma Clark, a part-time interior designer and full-time mom of one pretty little lady. This blog is the fruit of my extensive experiences as an interior designer and home improvement enthusiast. More so, I'm here to share with you a lot of great ideas on what YOU can do to make your home into a masterpiece: all cost-effective and amazingly creative.

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