painting 101: Best Painting Advice to Create a front porch masterpiece
Learn our best painting advice & tips plus a step by step process on how to paint your front door. How do you chose a color? What paint should you use? We answer all your questions right here.
So, you’re thinking about painting your front door. Whether this is out of necessity or just because you need a change, I have some helpful tips that you need to know before your paint your front door. Since I’ve become somewhat of an expert on this topic, I thought I would share my best painting advice from what I’ve learned along the way.
As many of you probably already know, I have a slight obsession with front doors, front porches, and in particular my front door. If you’ve been following along, you may have noticed that my front door has been painted not once, twice or even three times, but a total of four times this past year alone. And it has been transformed for various seasons and holidays countless additional times.
One Year, One Door, Four Colors
I decided I would embrace my obsession and take a moment to share some of the highlights from a year in the life of my front door. I will also be sharing my best painting tips and advice for painting (or repainting) your front door. Here is the simple step by step process I use and some additional information I have researched over the years. Also, be sure to read Pro Painting Tips where Julie shares her kitchen cabinet painting experience and an interview with her professional painters.
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Best Painting Advice I Learned Along the Way
How to Paint Your Front Door
My Best Painting Advice: Choosing your Color and Paint
Before you get ready to paint your front door, you need to do the MOST essential thing and that is: choose your paint.
Most people spend a ton of time deciding which color. Obviously, this is important.
- I recommend scrolling Instagram and searching the hashtag #frontdoor or #frontdoorpaint #frontdoorcolor or #doorsofIG. There are a gazillion different versions of searchable hashtags, but you get the idea.
- Another good idea is to drive around your local neighborhoods paying special attention to homes that are your color. No matter how much you like a door color if you are comparing it to a house of a different color it’s not a fair example of what your house will look like. I know this seems obvious but it’s important, so I am saying it here. Find a house that matches your house color closely and then find a front door color that appeals to you.
Before we get too far along in my front door painting story, take a look at where I started.
Black Door & Trim, Fall 2017
Black Door & Trim, Christmas 2017
The original black door and trim came with the house. And I loved it. Let’s be honest, there is nothing classier or more elegant that a black door. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of the black trim and door. It’s classic and goes with every season. I just needed a change. Unfortunately, I don’t have the name of the paint but I plan to paint it back to black and will choose a very deep pure black in a semi-gloss or enamel.
Best Painting Advice: Get Help from Brands
- You can also utilize the multitude of paint brand websites like Behr, Sherwin-Williams, Dunn-Edwards, or Benjamin Moore to access tons of ideas and photo examples. This is especially helpful when you are trying to find a good color combination with your existing house color. It can be challenging to see how your new door color is going to look ahead of time. These brands have lots of interactive tools to help you choose so you don’t have to do the guess work.
- Having trouble deciding on a color? According to the design experts, the most popular front door colors right now are black, white, grey, wood, blue, red and yellow. If you want to be a little trendier, try a bright yellow, pink or turquoise.
- If you are still hesitating over which color will work, try taping some paint chips up on your door. Every time you come in and out take a minute to examine and reflect how each color makes you feel. If you can narrow it down to two or three colors, try buying small samples which you could then paint small swatches of on the door. Seeing the color in real light beyond the paint chip is the best way to see the actual color and how it will look before fully committing.
- And lastly, don’t forget to look at the color at different times of day to see how the light can affect and change your perspective.
This is my current door color which I painted for the spring season. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to my front door story and how I went from the original black to my yellow door of today.
Color is Lemon Twist by Sherwin-Williams.
Best Painting Advice: What to keep in mind as you decide on your color
- Do you like to decorate seasonally like I do? How will this color go with your Christmas, spring, summer, fall decor?
- Do you have a lot of flowering bushes or shrubs? How will this color work with your existing foliage?
- If you don’t want to paint over in a few months, how will the color grow on you and feel six months from now? Is it trendy and/or is it something that you will get sick of? If so, are you prepared to paint again?
- How will your family (i.e. your husband) feel about the color? This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way. See my pink door pictured below. It doesn’t matter than in some lights it hardly looked pink at all and many people thought it looked white. That wasn’t the point. My husband knew it was pink and that was all that mattered. After I painted it, he made me promise to repaint it within a couple of months. Luckily that was my plan all along.
Color is Angels Kiss by Behr.
My Best Painting Advice: Choosing the Type of Paint
This is also important. When you go to the paint store, they are going to try to sell you the most expensive quality of paint. Some companies have special paint made just for doors. That’s because front doors tend to get a lot of exposure to the elements. They also are the focus of a lot of attention. The most important question to ask yourself is this:
- How often do you want to or plan to paint your door?
- Do you want to change out the color or do you want to paint it once and have it done?
- If you want it to last, I recommend getting the highest quality door paint. Period.
- If, like me, you only need the paint to last a few months before painting it again you don’t have to splurge on the most expensive.
- What I do is I choose my paint based on coverage. I want to decrease the amount of work by ensuring I won’t have to paint more than two to three coats.
Here are some different brands I have tried that I have been happy with:
- Behr Premium Plus Ultra – Exterior Semi-Gloss Enamel, paint and primer in one
- Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Smooth Enamel Finish for Trim & Doors – Satin Finish
Here is what my door looked like last fall. I love how the slate blue complements the orange of the pumpkins.
Color is Hamilton Blue by Benjamin Moore.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools
You will need the following:
- Primer – I use Zinsser Smart Prime (for all projects)
- Painters Tape
- Drop cloth
- Paint brush, mini roller and/or foam brushes
- Small handheld bucket or rolling pan depending on your choice of tools
- Small cloth for drips
Step 2: Prep
Prep work is the not-so-fun part of the job, but it can save you lots of regret and more work after if you skimp on this step.
No, you do not have to remove your door to paint it.
- This is especially helpful if you don’t have a storm door and removing your front door would leave your home and family exposed to the elements (and by this, I mean anyone wandering by, insects and who knows what).
- Painting with your door hanging or deciding to remove it is optional.
- The same goes for removing hardware.
- If you are taking your door down, I would recommend removing hardware.
- Since I rely on the security provided by my front door, I leave it hanging and with the hardware intact. I simply do my best to paint around it.
Here is my door painted red for Christmas this past December (2018).
Color is Dutch Tulip by Benjamin Moore.
Best Painting Advice:
- You will want to make sure your ground surface is completely covered with a drop cloth, both inside your house and outside (you may need to do some of the painting with the door open).
- Tape off the edges to protect trim work.
- Tape off windows unless you prefer to use a scrapper.
- I usually tape the windows and scrape the imperfections later.
Step 3: Sand
The first step to repainting your door is to sand it. The amount of sanding required will depend on several things:
- How many coats of paint do you have on there already?
- How much weathering do you have in the form of chipping paint?
- Are there any visible drips or texture brush strokes from previous coats of paint?
- If your door is in good shape and doesn’t have any signs of wear and tear, then you can opt for a very light sanding.
For my purposes I didn’t have to remove any imperfections, so I only had to do a very light sanding.
Best Painting Advice:
Professional painters recommend using very fine sandpaper (220 or higher). If you are just trying to create a fresh surface to start your next coat of paint and you don’t have imperfections to remove, pay attention to this. Using coarse sandpaper can actually do more harm than good because you might create streaks in your painting surface.
However, if you have damage that you need to take care of you may want to start with a handheld electric sander and then make your way gradually to finer sandpaper, ending with a 220-grit. This will take away any streaks and added texture created by the sandpaper.
Step 4: Wipe Down Your Door
Next you will want to wipe down your door with a damp cloth to remove any dirt, debris and dust caused by the sandpaper. Make sure your surface is completely dry before moving on to the next step.
Step 5: Apply Primer
I like to put on one coat of primer. This is especially important if you AREN’T repainting every few months. One good coat of primer will ensure that your next coat of paint sticks well and doesn’t chip over the long run.
Here are more photos of my red door all styled up last Christmas (2018).
Step 6: Paint
My Best Painting Advice:
- Whether you are more comfortable using a brush or mini roller is up to you.
- I have used both and sometimes use a combination of the two.
- I believe that both can work but you can also have challenges with texture and creating a smooth coverage with either tool.
- That’s why I say it is up to you.
- Some people swear by a brush (use an angled one to get into the corners) and some love a roller.
- I have finally mastered the mini roller and really like it.
- I make sure I get a very firm foam roller and am careful not to over coat the roller with too much paint.
- If you do it will leave a sticky texture.
- You can turn the roller on its side to get into the molding and edges and pull it across the surface. This tends to work well.
- I use a mini foam brush then to come back over any drips of missed spots.
- You can also do this with a brush, but I have trouble getting the coverage I want and avoiding brush strokes.
- Each method has its challenges, so it really is up to you which technique you are able to master.
Step 7: Painting Multiple Coats
You will likely have to paint two, three or even four coats of paint (not including primer) in order to create a beautiful finish. Leave plenty of time for each coat of paint to dry in between coats. When I painted my black trim white, I had to paint five coats. Just be prepared. Setting your expectations in the beginning can help you avoid getting frustrated.
Step 8: Clean Up & Decorate
More Best Painting Advice Resources Are Available on Our Blog:
An invaluable resource for our best painting tips is Painting Adventures.
Also, check out: Learn Expert Tips to Paint Like a Professional.
Red isn’t just for Christmas. Look how cute my red door is all dressed up for Valentine’s Day.
Here are some additional questions I have been asked in the past and my best painting advice:
How much paint do I need?
You can easily complete your door with a quart of high-quality paint such as the examples above. I always like to have extra, so I don’t stress out. But I’ve finally relaxed and realized that unless I want to have tons of extra cans of paint lying around a quart is plenty and you will still have a bit left over for touch-ups.
What kind of paint should I use if my door is metal?
Primer: It’s a good idea to use an exterior grade, oil-based primer.
Paint: What is recommended is an Enamel Oil-based paint like Rust-oleum Protective Enamel or equivalent.
What is the best finish to use?
The best finish for a front door is gloss or semi-gloss. The same goes for exterior trim. Semigloss paint gives a smoother surface than lower sheen finishes and gives that extra degree of shine providing more of a visual impact. Glossy paints will also stand up better to nicks or scrapes compared to flat or eggshell paints.
Here’s how you can make red work even for spring.
I added multi-colored flowers that matched the bright intensity of the red to make my door look the part no matter what the season.
When is the best time to paint?
If your door is showing signs of ware this would be a good time to paint. Or, if you are simply in need of a change this is also a great time to paint. Other than that, look for a day when the weather forecast calls for a clear sunny day with reasonable temps to allow you to be outside comfortably and will be conducive to allowing paint to dry.
How long do I really have to wait between coats?
The good news is that if you are using latex paint you can apply your second coat as early as two hours later. A two to four hour wait time is recommended depending on how heavily you apply the paint. This is awesome especially if you want to take down your door and put it back up the same day. You could feasibly squeeze in two coats, possibly even three if you were dedicated. However, oil-based paint requires 24 hours in between coats.
Note: Drying time can be affected by the weather. Hotter, drier climates will dry much faster. You can use the touch test. If your surface doesn’t feel tacky anymore after the two-hour mark you can feel free to paint your next coat.
Spring 2019 – Yellow Door & White Trim
I knew I wanted to change things up for spring. So, I took my time deciding on the color. I polled my followers on Instagram. I spent time narrowing down the color to three favorites then spent time picking exact paint hues for each possible color. I considered each color option with how it would look against the existing gray of my home and how it would look with the stonework. At last I chose my color. You know it’s a winning choice when your neighbors each take the time to tell you how much they like it.
I ushered in spring with a bright assortment of flowers. Enough to bring a mood boost to those dark and rainy days. But once the rain had stopped, I was ready for a fresh, clean take on summer. Here is how I created a less is more decor for my front porch and door with clean lines, new modern planters and ferns. Even my husband is loving the fresh new look.
Best Painting Advice: First Impressions
You know what they say: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Whether you want to change out your front door every season like me or you just want your house to look its best, painting your front door is a great place to start. I hope my helpful painting tips make the job easier. And I hope you are inspired by the many looks of my front porch to create and recreate your own beautiful first impression.