Home Improvement

What Type of Paint Is Best for Front Doors? Expert Tips

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Several colorful cans of paint next to each other

Painting your front door is one of the quickest and easiest ways to increase your home’s curb appeal. A fresh coat of paint can give your front entrance an instant facelift and add charm to your home’s exterior.

Whether you want to change up the color or just revitalize faded, cracked paint, properly painting your front door is essential to achieving a beautiful, long-lasting finish.

In this guide, I’ll walk through everything you need to know about the different types of front door paints. We’ll cover choosing the right paint and colors, proper surface preparation, application tips, and care for your finished door.

Why Painting Your Front Door Matters

Your front door is one of the first things people notice when they come to your home.

A vivid, well-maintained door makes a great first impression and instantly boosts your home’s curb appeal.

Beyond just aesthetics, painting your front door also provides important protection from the elements. A fresh coat of exterior paint seals and protects the door from moisture, UV rays, and general wear and tear.

Painting your front door offers a few key benefits:

  • Enhances curb appeal – A newly painted front door immediately makes your home look well-cared for and welcoming.
  • Protects the surface – Exterior paint formulas help seal out moisture that can lead to wood rot and rusting on metal doors.
  • Revitalizes faded color – Over time, sunlight and weather fade even the most vibrant front door colors. New paint restores it to its original glory.
  • Provides a budget facelift – A few cans of paint and some elbow grease can update the look of your front entrance for less than $100.
  • Boosts home value – A recent survey found that a new front door color can increase a home’s value by up to $6,449 (Source).

So if your front door paint has seen better days, keep reading to learn all the steps, tips, and tricks for painting it beautifully yourself.

Choosing the Best Paint for Your Front Door

The type of paint you choose for your front door makes all the difference in achieving a durable, lasting finish.

Exterior house paints are formulated to withstand sun, rain, snow, and temperature swings. Some specialty paints provide extra protection for the unique demands of a front door.

Paint Options for Front Doors

There are three main categories of exterior paint to consider for painting your front door:

Latex (water-based) paint

  • Pros: More affordable, low odor, fast dry time, easy soap and water cleanup
  • Cons: Less durable finish, needs repainting every 2-3 years

Oil-based paint

  • Pros: Extremely durable finish, high gloss, ideal for high-traffic areas
  • Cons: Longer dry time, smelly fumes, mineral spirit cleanup

Specialty paints – Enamel, epoxy, urethane, lacquer, primer & paint combos

  • Pros: Superior durability, scratch resistance, maximum protection
  • Cons: More expensive, application can be tricky

Here is an overview of the pros and cons of each paint type:

Paint TypeProsCons
LatexAffordable, low odor, fast drying, easy cleanupLess durable, needs repainting every 2-3 years
Oil-basedExtremely durable, glossy finish, ideal for high-traffic areasStrong odor, longer dry time, mineral spirit cleanup
Specialty paintsMaximum durability, scratch resistance, protectionMore expensive, tricky application

The best type of paint for your front door depends on what material it is made of:


Oil-based alkyd paints work best for protection and longevity on wood doors. The oil-based formula provides maximum protection against the elements. Be sure to use a primer first (if it’s required) to ensure proper adhesion and a smooth finish.

Two coats of enamel paint are recommended for the most durable result. Consider using a satin or semi-gloss sheen for an attractive look. Gloss finishes tend to show imperfections. Valspar Door & Trim door paint can be a good choice.

Latex paint can also work with proper sanding and priming first.


Oil-based enamel or rust-inhibiting primer + latex topcoat is ideal to prevent rust on a metal door.

Painting a metal front door requires some special considerations to prevent future rust and flaking. Make sure to sand thoroughly to rough up the slick surface, then apply a coating of rust-preventing metal primer before finishing with 1-2 topcoats of exterior enamel paint. This combination provides maximum durability for metal.


Latex acrylic paints recommended for best adhesion on fiberglass. Latex paints are easier to apply and clean up.

An acrylic latex with a satin finish works well for a sleek appearance. Make sure to scuff sand the surface first so the paint adheres properly. Applying two thin coats of paint is better than one thick coat. This paint by Sherwin Williams is a nice choice.

No matter what material your front door is made of, opt for exterior-grade paint with some sheen to make cleaning easier. Satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss finishes stand up well to dirt, smudges, and moisture.

Planning Your Front Door Painting Project

Painting your front door isn’t just a matter of grabbing a brush and applying color. Proper planning and preparation are key steps to ensure the new paint job lasts for years to come.

Here are some tips for planning out your project:

Check the weather forecast

  • The ideal conditions for exterior door painting are dry weather with temperatures between 50-90°F.
  • Avoid painting in direct sun, rain, or high humidity.

Make any needed repairs

  • Inspect your door for rotted wood, rust spots, cracked paint, or other issues and make repairs before painting.

Buy materials

  • You’ll need paint, primer, brushes, rollers, rags, paint remover, etc.
  • Make sure you get enough to cover the entire door with 2-3 coats.

Set aside enough time

  • Rushing through painting shortcuts proper prep and application.
  • Allocate at least 1 full day for proper door painting.

Remove hardware

  • Take off knobs, knockers, locks, and lighting before painting so they don’t get splattered.

Tape off glass

  • Use painters tape to mask off sidelights, transoms, or other glass next to the door.

Thorough planning and preparation are essential to achieving the best results painting your front door. Don’t skip this important first step!

Preparing Your Front Door for Painting

Proper surface prep is the most important step before painting any exterior surface. Your door must be completely clean and dull for the best paint adhesion.

Here are the basic steps:

  • Remove all hardware – knobs, locks, handles, knockers
  • Scrape away any loose, cracked, or peeling paint
  • Sand entire surface with 120-150 grit sandpaper
  • Fill any holes, dents, or cracks with exterior wood filler
  • Clean with TSP substitute to remove oils, dirt, and grime
  • Tape over hardware holes, glass, and other surfaces you don’t want painted
  • Spot prime bare wood with exterior primer

Extra preparation tips by material:

  • Wood – Fill knots, prime bare wood
  • Metal – Remove rust with sandpaper or chemicals, prime bare metal
  • Fiberglass – Lightly scuff sand to rough up glossy surface

Proper prep is tedious but crucial. The time spent will directly translate to how long your fresh paint job lasts. Don’t skip corners here!

Picking the Perfect Color for Your Front Door

Choosing that perfect pop of color for your front door can be so much fun, but also tricky to narrow down.

There are a few factors to keep in mind as you select a shade that complements your home’s exterior.

Architecture style

  • Select a color in keeping with your home’s architectural character.
  • For example, black or red for a Craftsman bungalow or cheery yellow on a cottage or farmhouse.

Existing colors

  • Look at your home’s siding, roofing, and accent colors and choose either a coordinating or contrasting shade.

Personal preference

  • While trends come and go, pick a color you’ll enjoy looking at every day.

Light Reflectance Value (LRV)

  • LRV measures how much light a color reflects.
  • Low LRV colors absorb light, while high LRV colors are lighter and reflective.
  • For longevity, choose exterior paint colors with an LRV above 45%.

Creative color ideas

  • Match existing trim or siding color for unity
  • Make a bold contrasting color statement
  • Try dark and moody hues like navy, black, or charcoal
  • Use bright, cheerful colors – red, yellow, teal, pink
  • Go for two-toned paint with a different top and bottom color

Take some time to consider the effect you want and choose a paint color you’ll love for years to come.

Here are some popular front door color combinations:

House Exterior ColorComplementary Front Door Colors
White or light grayNavy, red, black, dark green
Brown or tanRed, teal, yellow, bright white
GreenRed, yellow, black, navy
BlueYellow, bright white, green
GrayRed, yellow, navy, black

Applying Paint to Your Front Door

Once you’ve prepped the surface and chosen a color, it’s time to get painting. Working methodically and using proper techniques will give you a smooth finish.

Supplies needed

  • Exterior paint in your selected color
  • Paintbrush (angled sash brush for best control)
  • Paint roller and tray (for flat expanses)
  • Painters tape
  • Sandpaper (150 grit)
  • Mineral spirits (oil-based) or water (latex) for cleanup

Steps for application:

  1. Stir – Thoroughly mix paint before and periodically during application.
  2. Apply first coat – Use a brush for the panels and molding, roller for larger flat areas. Apply paint smoothly and evenly.
  3. Let dry – Allow first coat to dry completely, checking label directions. Cooler temps require longer dry times. Here you’ll find the paint dry times.
  4. Lightly sand – Smooth any raised grains or drips with fine 150 grit sandpaper.
  5. Apply second coat – Again work systematically to achieve full, even coverage.
  6. Dry and cure – Let paint dry thoroughly before closing the door or replacing hardware. Oil-based paints require longer curing times than latex.

Proper application techniques like maintaining a wet edge, brushing from unpainted into painted areas, and backrolling will give you the best looking paint job. Take your time with each coat.

Here are some extra tips for achieving a smooth painted finish:

  • Always paint in temperatures between 50-90°F
  • Work in small sections and maintain a wet edge
  • Use high quality polyester or nylon/polyester brushes
  • Roll paint on thinly and evenly, don’t overload the roller
  • Feather out edges and overlap rolled areas with brush
  • Sand lightly between coats for maximum adhesion

Follow these application tips carefully for best results.

Caring for Your Painted Front Door

Once your front door sports that fresh new paint job, you’ll want to keep it looking its best.

Here are some maintenance tips:

  • Allow paint to cure fully before regular use, typically 2-4 weeks
  • Clean door with mild soap and water, avoid abrasive cleaners
  • Reapply topcoat every 2-3 years to keep protective barrier intact
  • Touch up paint nicks and scratches immediately to prevent damage spread
  • Inspect door annually for any cracks or signs of wear in the paint
  • Use car wax on painted metal doors annually for added protection
  • Revitalize faded paint with new primer and coat to restore vibrancy

Proper prep, application, and care will extend the life and beauty of your painted front door for years to come.

Transform Your Home’s Curb Appeal With a Painted Front Door

With the right planning, preparation, techniques, and maintenance, you can give your front entrance an instant facelift with a fresh coat of paint. Not only will painting your front door boost your home’s aesthetics, but it will also protect and preserve the surface from outdoor elements.

The small investment of time and money to tackle this DIY home project can pay off in increased home enjoyment and value. So grab your brushes and paint swatches and get ready to give your front door the makeover it deserves!

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About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is a home improvement expert, contractor, avid DIYer, and security manager. He is passionate about home repairs, remodeling, and teaching. Read More