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How to Paint Your External Doors

There are many reasons a homeowner might decide to give the gateway (or rear entrance) to their home a fresh lick of paint. 

These are the doors that often serve as your first impression for visitors and guests. An external door is an introduction to your home and if that introduction is looking a little worn and shabby, then it might be doing your home a disservice. 

This is particularly true if you’re thinking of selling your home and want to make a first impression so grand that the guests in question will want to make that home their own. Whilst you might have thought about how to decorate your entrance hall, the finish of the external doors is also worth consideration. External doors are also more convenient to paint because there is less chance of leaving a mess (which is important for carpeted homes) and they are generally larger in stature, so require less fiddly work. 

Here, we’ll take all budding DIY enthusiasts (and reluctant DIY sceptics) through the job with care and attention, focusing on wooden doors and uPVC or composite doors. 

 

yellow painted front door

Photo by Evelyn Paris on Unsplash

Painting a Wooden External Door 

Tools required

  • Paint brushes and rollers
  • Paint (primer and final coat)
  • Screwdrivers
  • Chisel
  • Cloth
  • Sawhorses
  • Patience 

Step 1 

If possible, remove your door from its frame before beginning. 

It might leave your home exposed to the elements for a few hours, which can be particularly frustrating if you’re painting during the winter months, but by removing the door first, you’ll be making sure that you get no paint on the frame itself, or the door hardware. 

It might seem like an unnecessary extra job at first, but it’ll mean less work in the long run. Be sure, however, to arrange a replacement door in the interim whilst the paint dries, particularly if it’s slow-drying. To remove your door, you can either use a screwdriver to remove the door at the hinges, or, using a chisel or flathead screwdriver, you can remove the hinge pins by wedging your chosen tool between the pins and tapping the handle of your tool until the pins pop loose. 

Once the door is free, rest it on a pair of sawhorses, or something similar, and remove the rest of the hardware using your screwdriver. 

Step 2 

If your wooden door is particularly old then it might require a little bit of extra care and attention before painting can begin in earnest. 

This is even more important when the door has an existing paint job, as you’ll want to completely remove all traces of it before applying a new coat. A new coat on old paint will look sloppy and uneven. 

Before you get your sandpaper out, start by using your fingers to peel off any bits of paint that are sticking out. Next, use a medium strength sandpaper or hand sander to sand down the old paint job until the whole door has an even, smooth look. Finish off with some fine-grade sandpaper is the door still feels a little rough. 

Once the door is looking ready, go over any cracks with wood filler or builders caulk and work it in with a putty knife. Leave it to dry for a few hours, then sand off the spots until they are flush with the rest of the door. 

Finally, make sure you remove any rogue sawdust from the scene and wipe the door with a slightly damp cloth to remove any traces. Once that’s dried, you’re ready to go! 

Step 3 

Apply your primer coat with a wide, flat paintbrush or roller using a fair amount of paint, but not too much, as otherwise, you’ll get lumps. 

Cover the front first, then all side edges, before giving it at least an hour to dry and flipping it over to do the back. If the primer dries in lumps, sand those lumps away with a fine-grade paper to smooth everything out. 

The primer coat will prevent your door from absorbing too much moisture and will ensure a longer-lasting, more even coat, so it is vital, particularly with wooden doors. 

Step 4 

Give the primer coat a few hours to dry (see the paint tin for recommendations) and then start stirring the paint for your final layer, making sure the paint runs smooth and drips easily off your brush or roller. 

Start from the top of your door with a wide brush at the corners and use a small roller for the panels. Always go over your brushed areas with a roller before finishing if possible to prevent lines from forming. How many layers you’ll need to apply will depend on the paint so always read the information before starting. 

Step 5 

Leave the door outside (if possible) to dry until it no longer feels sticky to the touch. Once you’re comfortable with the finish, remount your door with the help of a friend or family member (those things can be incredibly heavy after all!) making sure the hinges are aligned and the door sits comfortably in its frame. Congratulations. 

Admire your handy work and make yourself a cup of tea. 

well earned cup of tea!

Painting a uPVC External Door 

Whilst it might lack the vintage, ‘real’ glamour of wood, uPVC is becoming more common due to its easier maintenance and lower cost, when compared to wooden, glass and composite doors. The material is undeniably less attractive than wood, but you can mask the plain looks with a fresh coat of paint with relative ease. You’ll have to make sure you buy paint specifically engineered to work with uPVC, but that shouldn’t be too hard to find at any local hardware store. 

Tools required

  • Paint brushes and rollers
  • paint (primer and final coat)
  • Allen key
  • Cloth
  • Sawhorses
  • Patience

Step 1

If possible, remove your door from its frame before beginning. Removing a uPVC door requires a little more effort than removing a wooden door, however. Using an Allen key, you’ll need to loosen the screws underneath the hinge covers. These covers can take a little persuasion to pop or slide loose, so don’t be afraid to apply a little force. 

Loosen these screws (on all hinges) and you should be able to simply lift the door off the hinges and place it on your prepared sawhorses. If you’re having too much trouble, however, it’s safer to paint uPVC doors that are already hung than it is to paint hanging wooden doors, as the paint is easier to remove if you accidently get some on the door frame and the hinges are already covered. 

Step 2 

If you’re painting your uPVC door for the first time then you’re good to go. If you are painting over an existing paint job, however, things are going to get a little tricky. You can’t just sand it away, so you might need to use methylated spirits, mixed with a little bit of water and liquid soap. Use a cloth to coat the door and leave it to dry overnight. In the morning, the paint should peel away with little effort with a coarse cloth or even a toothbrush! 

Step 3 

Once the door is clear of any old paintwork, you can comfortably follow steps 3 and 4 of the wooden door guide above. Your uPVC door might require a few extra coats, however, with one primer coat, at least one or two undercoats and then two finals coats. The paint will be water-based, however, so clean up is quick and easy. You might be surprised what a difference a decent paint job can make with your external uPVC door. Indeed, from a distance, many might even mistake it for a wooden door worth twice as much!

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