How to paint a front door - the expert guide to making a perfect first impression

How to paint a front door is easy if you let these experts talk you through the simple steps

front yard design with grey front door
(Image credit: Numis Marty/Getty Images)

Enjoyment of our homes isn't just about the interior; the exterior is important too. Of course some outside tasks require a professional, yet knowing how to paint a front door is an undertaking most of us could manage if we set aside a weekend.

Whether you're intending to sell your home or not, giving your front door an upgrade with a new coat of exterior eggshell paint in a fresh color will give your home that all-important curb appeal.

'Mid to deep blues have a huge appeal right now and if the tone is right, work wonderfully well with red brick, although always sample first,' says Patrick O'Donnell, color expert at Farrow & Ball.

'Pink can be a striking alternative too. A sophisticated, earth-toned, deeper pink will look elegant and unique. Dark, forest greens also work a treat and are a softer option to pure black, which works well with stucco, brick and stone. Finally, optimistic sunshine yellows will positively exclaim a joyful welcome lies within.'

Still can't decide on the color? 'Choose a shade that compliments the other tones and materials of your home exterior,' adds Tash Bradley, color expert at Lick. 'Take into consideration the brick color, windows and shutters, letter box and also the style of your front door. Look at your plants for inspiration too.'

How to paint a front door - step by step

Painting your front door is a relatively easy task, even for an amateur. But as with every decorating project there are considerations. 'First, check your weather forecast,' says Patrick at Farrow & Ball. 

'Temperatures must not be below 50F or above 86F. Moisture can be an issue, so look out for rain and err towards a dry outlook. Two days should be enough to see you start and complete the project, if using water-based paints, such as exterior eggshell.'

What you'll need: 


Filler (if required)

Screwdriver (to remove door furniture)

Frog tape

A dust sheet


Exterior paint of your choice

Paint brush (a 2" angled brush should suit)

The perfect tool kit

1. Remove or tape the door furniture

Front door painted in Scotch Blue exterior eggshell by Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

If you've invested in smart door furniture like the best wireless doorbell, ideally remove it altogether so it doesn't get marked. If that's not possible, ensure you protect it with frog tape. 

Tape the inside edges of any glass panels too; it's easier to prevent stray brush strokes, than clean up after them.  

Lay a dust sheet on the floor both outside and inside in the entryway too. This will prevent any errant drips from being trodden inside. 

2. Sand the door and fill any cracks

grey front door painted in Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal high gloss paint

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Sand the surface of the door to give it a 'key' for the paint to adhere to, and repair any minor cracks with an appropriate filler.

'It’s best to use a medium to fine surface sandpaper or flexible sanding block on a front door that has been previously painted,' says Marianne Shillingford, creative director at Dulux

'If you have bare wood, use the medium grit first to remove any rough edges quickly and then finish off with the finest grit to get a super smooth surface to paint onto.  Always remove the dust with a dusting brush or vacuum cleaner before you apply any primer or paint too.' 

3. Apply primer and leave to dry

Blue front door with Purlfrost Franklin Victoria stained glass window film

(Image credit: Purlfrost)

'For timber doors, apply one coat of appropriate coloured exterior wood primer,' says Patrick at Farrow & Ball. 'If you're painting UPVC check if the product is appropriate for the substrate. Allow the primer to dry fully before painting it with your top coats; four hours should be enough.'

4. Paint two coats of your chosen shade

Black front door painted in Sandtex Rapid Dry Gloss paint

(Image credit: Sandtex)

Once the primer is dry, you're ready to paint your front door. 'Apply the first coat of your chosen color and, once again, allow to dry following the manufacturers guidelines,' says Patrick. 'Then finally apply your top coat. Once that's fully dry, you can re-affix all your door furniture and stand back to admire your efforts.'

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.