Interior Door Painting 101

4 Materials
5 Hours

With renovating a 200 year old house, I’ve done my fair share of door repairs, sanding, caulking & painting and wanted to share some of my best tips & tricks to make painting interior doors less of a headache.

So, our entire first floor consists of beautifully handcrafted 200 year old doors. They were so much work to repair and constantly have issues, so I decided to take the easier route when it came to our upstairs and use simple hollow core doors from a big box retailer. I initially primed them white and have been content for the past year but suddenly decided, change was needed…. and that change is bold! 

I painted my doors black! So let’s walk through the entire process. Like any DIY project first you want to understand what your working with.

Step 1: figure out what type of surface or finish you’ll be painting over. In my case, I just had primed doors that needed no surface prep. However if you are working with latex, you’ll want to use a latex paint or if you have to sand down, you’ll most likely want to prime before painting. 

Fun tip for figuring out if it’s latex paint: clean your door with a light cleaner and once dry, soak a Cotten ball in rubbing alcohol and wipe a small area of the door.. if paint comes off it is indeed latex. latex will also have a rubbery texture.

Step 2: Gather supplies

For this project, I suggest the following :

  • Paint ( I suggest Sherwin Williams Emerald enamel for door painting!)
  • Angled brush
  • Small roller (I use a Purdy white dove)
  • Small rolling tray
  • Tape if needed 
  • Screwdriver (to remove door or hardware)

Step 3: Prepare

Prep is always everyone’s favorite step, am I right? But like all projects, it’s important. So for this step, either carefully remove your doors from the hinges and take to your painting area or if you are just painting the exteriors like I am (leave them on) and just remove the hardware and put it somewhere you won’t lose it (I recommend in a baggie with the screws!). If you need to tape any edges or trim certainly do that before you even wet that paint brush. 

Step 4: Paint in the proper way 

This is important and many people don’t realize there is an entire process and steps to painting a door that should be followed to ensure that the paint job comes out amazing! So let’s go over that now…

I made this template using my door for you to see a visual on the order of painting a door. I’ll also break it down for ya!

1) You paint all of the panels first. If you are painting the whole door, you’ll want to paint the 2 outer sides that face the jambs at this point too!

2) paint the vertical rails- this will start to make more sense as you look closely at the door and see how the wood grain goes different ways.

3) paint the horizontal rails

4) paint the edges – this can involve cutting in if your simply doing the door faces like I did. 

– you’ll want to go in this order for all coats and I promise, it’ll ensure a seamless finish once cured.

Step 5: let your paint dry according to can for recoats and again follow the order of painting.


Step 6: ENJOY!!

This is the best part walk down that hallway and just stare at the beauty you created!! 🖤

I hope those tips were helpful. As always , reach out here or on  Instagram with any questions and happy DIY’ing. 

Be sure to follow me on my socials to keep up with all my projects

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5 of 20 comments
  • Johanne Palange Johanne Palange on Jan 22, 2021

    In the list of materials it says Emerald paint. However, it looks black in the pictures. Whatever: I like the results a lot. I'm going with black. It looks dramatic without being overwhelming. Simple and so effective.

    • See 1 previous
    • Hi Joanne, yes as Mary Beth stated it's a line of paint from Sherwin Williams. I went with the urethane type and you can get any color mixed. Thank you for your kind compliments too!

  • Teresa Bodzassy Teresa Bodzassy on Feb 09, 2021

    I thought you had to take the doors down and lie flat to paint. That's what's held me back and I bought the paint a year ago! I can usually get things down and have trouble getting them up again. Won't there be the risk of runs if painting doors while upright?