The Proper Way to Paint (and Stencil) a Front Door

Alicia W
by Alicia W
6 Materials
2 Days

This is my sister's front door. While it looks okay from afar, the closer you look, you can see it needs to be painted. The color also needs to be changed and we need to make it special.

I begin by applying painter's tape around the window, door handle and lock.

My sister loves color and she wanted to make her front door unique (like she is) but wasn't sure how to do that. While we discussed her options she mentioned that she loves the look of paisley. That's when I got the idea to paint her front door with a paisley pattern.

The door had been white and she had painted it yellow; however, she didn't prep the door before she painted so the yellow paint was really streaky and you could see the brush marks.

I used 180 grit medium sandpaper over the entire door making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies.

After sanding, I wiped the door clean with blue Dawn and water. This not only removed the sanding dust, it also de-greased the door. Sanding and wiping down the door is a very important step.

After wiping the door, I sanded again and wiped again.

I also used the brush to paint inside the details of the door panels.

Even though she loves color, we decided to paint the door black. Using Krylon Colormaxx acrylic latex paint in Satin Black, I started at the top of the door. I used a paintbrush to paint around the entire window frame.

I allowed the door to dry then apply a second and third coat of paint. I allow those coats to dry 24 hours.

Working my way down the door, I use a sponge roller to paint the flat areas of the door.

It is critical that you allow the door to dry between coats otherwise, when you apply another coat, you will remove the paint underneath. This part was hard for me because I just wanted to get. that. door. painted.

The following day, there were a few spots that weren't covered. I applied paint only to those spots using a brush.

Now it was time to stencil. This stencil is from ArtMinds which I purchased from Michael's. I taped the stencil to the door using painter's tape.

For the stencil color, I used ArtMinds outdoor exterior paint in "Concrete".

I also used a stencil brush by ArtMinds.

If you've never stenciled before here are some tips:

  1. Add a small amount of paint to a plastic plate.
  2. Dip just the tips of your brush into the paint
  3. Remove excess paint from the brush by pouncing or dabbing the brush up and down on a paper towel.

You don't want the brush too wet or the paint will leak under the stencil. This is dry brush technique.

As you can see, I turned the stencil in different directions each time I used it. Along the edges of the door, I position the stencil so there were parts of it not completely on the door.

Apply the paint to the door by gently pouncing the brush against the door. Pouncing means tapping the brush against the your surface in light, rapid strokes. Again, you don't want too much paint on the brush or it will leak under the stencil. You can always add more paint if you need to.

Once the stencil is completely painted, remove the stencil from the door.

While the door is not painted a bright color, the paisley makes it unique - which makes it exactly what my sister wanted.

She does have a screen door which hides a good bit of the door when it's closed; however, you can still see the top of the door through the screen door and when you open the door - - - Wow!

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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 4 questions
  • Dorothy A Erickson Dorothy A Erickson on Jun 08, 2018

    how do you prevent streaking and brush marks

  • Paulette Rogers Paulette Rogers on Jun 13, 2018

    Is it a wood or metal door? Should I do anything different if I have a metal door?

  • Ljh49913975 Ljh49913975 on Nov 06, 2020

    If I don't need to re use the stencil right away, should I leave it on til the paint dries to prevent smearing/runs?

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2 of 51 comments
  • Mwood Mwood on Aug 14, 2018

    Actually, I was looking at the license plate flowers! I absolutely LOVE that idea as I have a few dozen plates lying around!

  • Kathy Bitzan Kathy Bitzan on May 14, 2022

    Great idea. My doors are steel I think. Anyway the door hangers don't fit, so I can't hand a wreath. Bummer as I decorated an old purse I bought in Mexico Years ago. Filled with some flowers and thought it was different. But can't hand on door so it hangs out back on my porch. Since im stenciling the wall above my bed, i thought hey you should stencil a wreath on the door. Anything so it isnt so flat and ugly. No window. I'm not sure why people would use such ugly doors on their home. So that's my next project when my room is done

    Lol. I am wondering how many coats of the stencil paint you had to do. I practiced on a TV tray of dark brown and it took 3 coats so it could be seen.