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How to Paint a Metal Door in 4 Easy Steps

Do you have a metal door you’d like to paint? With the right tools and a little bit of elbow grease, you can create any look and style you can imagine for your metal door.

How to Paint a Metal Door in 4 Easy Steps 1

Because it has such a smooth surface, metal can be tricky to paint. If you want to paint your metal door but you’re not sure where to start, here you’ll find a complete step-by-step guide for how to paint a metal door including what tools and equipment you’ll need and some helpful tips and tricks.

Let’s get right to the guide for how to paint a metal door so you can get started on transforming your metal door with a fresh new look.

What You’ll Need to Paint a Metal Door

The right tools will help you get the job done quickly and efficiently with a high quality finish that will make your metal door look amazing for years to come. Here are all the tools you’ll need for how to paint a metal door.

  • Drop Cloths – Drop cloths or old sheets to protect the ground around the area where you’ll be painting.
  • Sand Paper or Sanding Block – To get the door ready for paint.
  • Screwdriver or drill – To Remove hardware.
  • Painter’s tape – For taping around windows in the door or hardware that can’t be removed.
  • Rags – Shop rags or old towels will help you clean up drips or mistakes quickly before the paint dries.
  • Paint Tray – If using a roller or brushes.
  • Paintbrush and Paint Roller or Paint Sprayer – A roller will be faster than just a brush. If using a roller you’ll still need a small paintbrush (around 2 inches) to reach tricky areas like grooves in the door. You can also use a paint sprayer for this project if you have one, it will make painting your metal door even faster.
  • Primer – For best results, you’ll need a good quality primer that is specially formulated for metal. You can also buy direct-to-metal paints that will stick well to your metal door without priming.
  • Paint – Interior or Exterior paint that is designed for metal. If your door is located inside and won’t be exposed to the elements, interior paint is fine. If your door is outside you’ll need an exterior paint.
  • Sealer Some paints require a sealer but not all so check the back of your paint can to see if a sealer is necessary.

The Best Type of Paint for Metal Doors

While learning how to paint a metal door it may be helpful to know what type of paint will work best. Not all paint will stick well to metal so you need paint that is specially formulated for metal surfaces.

You can use either an oil-based or water-based paint depending on your goals and preferences.

Oil-based paints are the most durable but they are less environmentally friendly, have stronger fumes, and tend to be more expensive.

Water-based acrylic paint dries quickly, doesn’t smell very much, and is usually cheaper. A good quality water-based paint will still provide a strong finish that is resistant to fading and cracking but it may be more susceptible to scratches and scuffs than oil-based paint.

Step One: Getting Ready to Paint a Metal Door

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you’re ready to start the process for how to paint a metal front door. Set up a work area with all your tools and protect the area with drop cloths.

Remove the Door if Possible

It will be easier to paint your door if you remove it and lay it down horizontally. This minimizes paint drips and makes it easier to reach tricky spots like grooves in the door.

Removing a door for painting

Keep in mind it might take a couple of days for the door to dry fully so you may need to come up with a way to close the area where the door belongs while you’re waiting to put it back. If it’s not practical to remove your door, you can still paint it without removing it, just take extra care when applying paint.

If you remove the door, lay it down on two sawhorses or a large flat surface such as a table. You can put a cloth on the sawhorses first to protect the door from scratches.

Remove Hardware

Remove any hardware that you can. It will be easier than trying to paint around those handles and hinges. If there are things that can’t be removed, you can tape around and over those areas to protect them.

Step Two: Prepare the Door for Painting

Thorough preparation can make a huge difference in the overall quality of the finished product. Of all the steps for how to paint a metal door, preparation is one of the most important. Take your time to do it right and it will really pay off!

Inspect the Door

Look over the door to check for damage or any areas that need attention. See if there are any spots on the door where old paint is coming up. If there are small areas where you see rust, you can remove it with a wire brush.

Remove Old Paint if Needed

If your door has any flaking or peeling paint, you’ll need to remove it using a paint stripper or heat gun before you can apply new paint. If the previous paint is in good condition without any areas that are chipped, cracked, flaking, or peeling you don’t need to remove the paint, you can apply new paint on top it.

Sand the Door

When it comes to how to paint a metal door like a pro, whether or not you removed old paint, sand the door with a fine-grit sandpaper. Around 400 grit works well. Sanding scuffs up the surface of the door so the paint will stick to it more easily. Make sure to wear a dust mask and safety glasses, especially if using a sander. Sand the door slowly with a light touch.

Sanding old paint off of a door before adding a new coat of paint

Clean the Door

Next, wipe down the door using a damp cloth or a bit of soapy water if it is very dirty. If there is accumulated oil or grease, you can use a degreaser to thoroughly clean the door so it will be ready for paint. This is best practice when it comes to how to paint a metal door

Step Three: Prime and Paint the Door

After careful preparation, your metal door will be ready for fresh new paint. This is the most exciting part because it’s when you’ll really start to see your door transform! Here is how to paint a metal door once you’ve completed the preparation step.

Prime the Door

Primer will help the paint stick to your metal door and provides additional protection against wear and tear.

Apply the primer using a paint roller for the flat areas and a paintbrush for any grooves. If using a paint sprayer, follow the instructions for your particular sprayer.

Paint sprayer nozzle

Apply Paint

Make sure the primer is fully dry before you move on to paint.

When applying paint, start with a roller on the flat areas of the door then use a brush on the grooved areas.

Let paint fully dry between each coat. How long this takes depends on what kind of paint you choose. The paint can label will tell you how long your particular paint needs to dry between coats.

Apply a Sealer if Needed

Not all paints require sealing but some do so make sure to look at your paint can to see if a sealer will be necessary. If using a sealer, you can get spray on or brush on varieties. Let your paint dry for at least 24 hours before applying the sealer.

Step Four: Rehang the Door

Let everything dry fully, then you’re ready to put back all hardware and rehang your door. Once that’s done, you’re all finished! Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. You’ve successfully learned how to paint a metal door.

How to Paint a Metal Door in 4 Easy Steps 2

How to Paint a Metal Door FAQs

How many coats of paint does a metal door need?

A metal door will need at least two coats of paint for thorough, consistent coverage.

Can I spray paint a metal door?

You can use spray paint if you want to, but the finish won’t be as attractive or as durable. Note that using spray paint that comes in an air-compressed can is different from using a paint sprayer and adding your own paint to it. When it comes to how to paint a metal door with the best results, use a paint sprayer, paintbrush, or paint roller rather than canned spray paint.

What type of paint finish should I use for a metal door?

The higher the sheen the more durable and easier to clean your door will be. If your door will get a lot of traffic and touching, a semigloss or gloss paint will work well. Semigloss will stand up to a lot of wear and tear and looks great on doors.

Safety Considerations for How to Paint a Metal Door

If your metal door was painted before 1978 there may be lead in the paint. Dealing with lead-based paint is dangerous so it should only be removed by a professional who is certified in lead paint removal.

If you’re not sure whether your door might have lead paint on it, you can test it with a lead paint test kit before moving forward with the project. When it comes to how to paint a metal door, this safety step is one that shouldn’t be skipped.

Wrapping Up How to Paint a Metal Door

Painting a metal door requires the right approach to get a good result. If you follow these steps you’ll be able to get a fantastic finish on your metal door all on your own. For even more tips on how to paint a metal door check out this article on how to paint a door without brush marks.