how to paint a front door without removing it

If you’ve ever wondered how to paint a front door without removing it, you’re not alone. A freshly painted door can transform the appearance of your entire property, making it look new and modern in an instant. Whether you choose a semi-gloss finish or a shiny door, replacing the old paint should positively impact your home’s curb appeal.

Unfortunately, painting a front door can be complex because you’ll need to move the door around to ensure you cover all of the surfaces. For some professionals, the easiest option is to simply remove the door from its hinges to complete a paint job. However, this isn’t an option for everyone.

You may not be able to leave your door detached from your home for a long period while the exterior paint dries. Plus, removing a door and replacing it can be a complex process if you’re not familiar with dealing with hinges.

Fortunately, you can paint your front door without taking it off the door frame. Here’s everything you need to know about getting instant curb appeal with a newly painted front door.

Preparation: Do I Need to Strip My Door Before Painting?

Before you start to paint a front door, it’s important to make sure you’re adequately prepared. The last thing you want is to discover you don’t have everything you need when you’re mid-way through painting: during this project, you’ll usually need to leave the door open for the paint to dry, making it difficult to run to the store when necessary.

First, it’s worth thinking about how you will prepare your door for painting. If you’ve got a very old front door with a lot of flaking paint, you may want to consider stripping that existing paint before applying your new colour’s first coat.

Before you strip paint using a chemical solution, you must ensure the old paint doesn’t contain any lead. Older front doors did sometimes feature lead in the paint mixture, which can cause dangerous fumes if removed inappropriately. You may need to rely on fine-grit sandpaper or medium-grit sandpaper to get a smooth finish instead.

Top Tips for Preparing Your Door

Below you can find some other key points to keep in mind before you paint an exterior door.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Choose a day to paint a front door when it’s not going to be raining or blowing a gale. You’ll need time standing inside and outside while painting. You’ll also need to ensure the exterior paint on your door can dry fully so it doesn’t end up with streaks.

Move Pets in Advance

Try to get your pets looked after elsewhere or keep them locked up in a different room as you paint your front door. This should ensure you don’t have to worry about animals running loose when in between coats.

Collect All the Right Materials

Make sure you have something to protect the floor under your door when you’re painting and enough brushes and rollers to paint a door several times. Some kinds of doors can take two to three coats for full coverage with any door paint.

Can You Paint a Door While It’s Hanging?

First, you should know if it is possible to paint your front door while it’s still hanging. Painting an exterior door while it’s still up can require some extra planning, as you’ll need to check the weather isn’t going to affect your finished result.

However, if you’re careful and plan properly, it’s not too difficult to figure out how to paint a front door without removing it. Before you begin, keep in mind that you’re going to keep your front door open while the paint dries. This means it’s important to ensure you don’t have to close your door in between coats for any reason. You’ll probably need to stay in the house for most of the day.

A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Paint a Front Door Without Removing It

Once you’ve chosen the right day for painting your doors, follow these few steps, and your door will be ready in no time.

Step 1: Remove the Door Hardware

Start preparing your door for painting by unscrewing all the fixtures on the door. These include the door handle, number, letterbox, and any other hardware attached to your door. You’ll find it’s much easier to remove the door hardware completely than try and get your brush strokes to go around them perfectly without leaving marks.

Whatever you can’t remove from the door, you’ll want to cover with the right masking tape or decorating tape. For instance, you’ll need to protect the glass on your door if it has a glass window. Sticking newspaper over the top of glass panels is a good way to avoid covering them in tape.

Step 2: Clean Your Door

While stripping your door before you paint it might not be necessary, you’ll need to do a major cleaning. When learning how to repaint doors, you’ll discover cleaning the door before you get started can save you a lot of effort in dealing with streaks caused by leftover dust and dirt.

Utilise a diluted household cleaner to scrub the door, and if you observe any mould or algae, contemplate employing stronger cleaning agents. Try to scrape off as much old paint as you can without damaging the weather stripping. Most people will find it easy enough to remove old paint with a bit of sandpaper.

You don’t have to worry about getting every bit of paint off the door unless you’re painting it a lighter colour than the previous choice. However, the door should be as smooth as possible, as it will make painting external doors a lot easier.

Step 3: Perform Basic Repairs

If you’re painting a wooden front door, it’s best to take some time to repair cracks and other problems before you start painting. You can use a basic wood filler to get rid of dents and damage in the door. After all, even the best paint will struggle to go on smoothly if the door is damaged.

Once you’ve applied your wood filler, wait for it to dry, and go over the whole thing again with some sandpaper to get a smooth surface. If you’re painting a metal front door, you might not be able to repair and smooth the surface as easily.

Step 4: Prime Your Door

Once you’ve gotten all the flat parts of your door as smoothly as possible, the next step is priming it to be painted. Wipe the door over with some methylated spirit, removing leftover dust and giving your door a much-needed final clean.

Leave the whole thing to dry, then cover the door with a coat of primer: this will help protect any wood left bare after removing the old paint. If you’re dealing with a metal front door, a primer can sometimes help you adhere the paint to the metal.

If you’re going to be changing from a dark colour to a lighter colour, you may need to apply an undercoat to avoid having to apply many coats of your new paint colour.

Step 5: Paint Your Door

a worker repainting his room

Once the separate primer dries, you’ll be able to apply your new door colours to the mix. Start slowly with the panels, then paint the horizontal and vertical sections. You’ll need to make sure you’re painting every nook and cranny fully, allowing the paint to get into the grooves of the door.

After you’ve finished the first coat, step back and allow the paint to dry. If the colour needs another coat, you’ll need to wait for the painted surface to dry thoroughly before you start painting again. Going one coat at a time will reduce the risk of splotches and streaks.

Once you’re happy with the finished result, remove the painter’s tape or masking tape from the door while it’s still wet to stop the colour from cracking.

Step 6: Apply the Finishing Touches

Once your door is fully dry, the last stage is applying the fixtures, like your door handle, back to wherever they’re supposed to be. In some cases, you might also want to apply a fresh coat of gloss or finishing protection to the door. However, if you get the right paint from day one, you may already have protective elements built-in.

If you want to paint the inside of your door, you’ll need to keep the door open while applying this paint. Remember, you’ll need to use paint specifically intended for outdoors when painting the outside of your door and paint intended for indoors when painting the inside.

It is possible to get colour matching to improve your chances of making the right first impression with a fully-unified front door.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on a Front Door?

Learning how to paint a front door without removing it can be tricky, but it’s actually much easier than it seems. One thing to keep in mind above all other tips is you’ll need to make sure you have the right paint. The last thing you want is to admire your painted door for a day and then discover it begins to deteriorate in the rain.

When shopping for tape and paint, look for paint capable of withstanding the elements. You can use different kinds of paint to paint a front door, but the most common option is latex paint with a semi-gloss design.

If you are uncertain about the appropriate paint to use for painting your door, it is advisable to seek advice from a professional. They’ll be able to give you plenty of guidance on how to paint a front door and which kinds of paints you can use. They can also point you towards the best painter’s tape to use with your door print to prevent the colour from running over.

Choosing the Right Door Paint

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your door paint:

Brush or roller?

Choosing between a roller and a paintbrush can be tough. A paintbrush is more likely to leave brush strokes on your front door or storm door. However, a roller can also leave roller marks, and you may struggle to get into all of the corners and edges of your door.

If you’re careful with your painting, you should be able to get good coverage with a brush and a roller, to avoid brush marks. You can use the brush for the smaller edges and the roller for the larger, flat surfaces on the door.

Door Colour

a couple choosing colour

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for choosing a colour for your interior or exterior door. You may be guided by what kind of exterior paint is available. Sometimes, exterior paint doesn’t have as many colours to choose from. It’s worth thinking about the kind of look other people on your street have gone for.

Remember that a lighter colour over a darker shade will require more than one or two coats. Experiment with shades at your own risk, and don’t be afraid to check out bright colour options.


Remember, it’s important to prepare the surface correctly, whether you’re using spray paint or latex paint for your front door. Purchase a separate foam roller and brush so you can prepare your door without mixing substances.

You’ll need to use your painter’s tape again when applying primer to your door, so make sure you get plenty to protect your glass, door handle, and anything else you can’t remove.

Painting Your Front Door Without Removing It

A freshly painted front door can definitely improve the overall aspect of your house. With the right painted front door, you can immediately make the right impression on anyone who comes to see your property. However, removing your front door to paint it can be a little overwhelming.

The good news is you can learn how to paint a front door without removing it relatively easily. Using the steps above, you should have a beautiful, well painted front door in no time!

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