Learn how to paint a front door and repair rotted areas. It’s an easy DIY project that will totally transform your entry and up your curb appeal.
One of the things that struck my babes and me when we were touring around the suburbs of Atlanta in search of a new home was the surfeit of black doors. It seemed like every brick house had one.
Now, to me, all those black doors looked classic and stately – a little same-same after a while, maybe – but handsome nonetheless. I don’t remember seeing so many up North, so I found them to be an interesting change. Digging into the significance of a front door’s color, I learned that a black front door brings elegance and calmness to a home and serves as a protective barrier.
All good stuff, right?
Well, not to my babes.
She’s got a superstition against black doors. She heard something bad about them from a friend long ago and it stuck with her. Something about it bringing bad luck and sickness to a home or some such.
Not good stuff.
So when we chose the house we now call Home, I knew I’d be painting the door PDQ.
Besides, our wood front door was rotting at the bottom, so I’d need to repair that, too.
Remember how it looked?
And there’s that rotten wood. Our guess is that they attached the storm door years after the house was built, but by that time, the elements had done their damage.
Overall, the entry needed a lot of work, but step one was to paint that door.
If you recall from our Short Term Goals post, our other plans for the entry area included getting rid of those ridiculously overgrown hedges and replacing that single lantern with two.
We went out to Lowes and got a bunch of Sherwin Williams paint chips. We wanted something lighter and more colorful, but not too colorful – something that would play well with the washed-out brick color.
I’m always partial to blue, so I focused my energy on those hues. As luck would have it, both Handan and I landed on the same color – Stardew – a soft blue that by total coincidence is a near-perfect match for the color of our kitchen island.
And according to the wizards who run the internet, blue means calmness and trust, so trust me – it’s a fantastic color!
Though our front door is now protected by the storm door, we chose an exterior paint. Not only are exterior paints more resilient to rain and snow, but they hold up better to the sun’s bleaching rays. Fortunately, I’m told it doesn’t snow much here, so our door has that going for it. It it does start snowing here, I’m packing up and heading to south Georgia. I’ve had enough snow for one lifetime, thank you!
Since we now live in an HOA, even something as innocent and simple as painting our door must be approved by The
Council of Supreme Elders Architectural Committee. I’m not a rules-y kinda guy, but I’m learning to live within the confines of our HOA. I think as long as we don’t start sticking pink flamingos in our front lawn, we’ll probably be okay.
I’ve even managed to flop around our front yard shirtless while toiling away under the hot Georgia sun on a few occasions without attracting a noteworthy police response, so I think we’ll be okay!
Anyway, before I could paint our front door, I had to repair it, and in order to do that, I needed to take it off of its hinges.
How to Paint a Front Door (and do some other stuff to it, too!)
- Small foam roller
- Small roller tray
- Primer (Zinsser 123 is a good choice)
- Exterior paint (we used Sherwin Williams Stardew)
- Sandpaper or detail sander
- Sawhorses (if removing the door)
- Bondo wood filler (if making repairs)
- CA glue and insta-set hardener or rotted wood restorer (if repairing rotten wood)
Before removing the door from its hinges, I first removed the knob and deadbolt. I had installed the knob and deadbolt seen in all of these pictures immediately after moving in. We’ve become converts to the Smart Locks of the Future.
Well, present, I suppose.
But anyway, with a pudding brain like the one that sloshes around in the balding watermelon I call a head, I need all the help I can get when it comes to keeping the house secure. I have all of our exterior locks integrated with The Cloud, so I can check the doors from anywhere in the world – as long as I have my phone and an internet connection. Better yet, I can lock and unlock them from anywhere in the world. If anyone would like to donate a trip to Bora Bora, I’d be more than happy to show you how I can lock my doors from anywhere in the world.
Huh. Sure are a lot of crickets around here!
Anyway, it comes in real handy when you leave the house and realize some time later that you forgot to lock the front door.
Or so I’ve heard.
Of course, I’d never forget! 🙂
Then with Handan’s help, I removed the door from its hinges, and we carried it outside and set it up on sawhorses. Some people like to paint doors where they hang. I even used to do it. But they’re so much easier to work on when they’re lying flat than standing up, so these days, I always take them off the hinges, even if I’m just painting and not repairing.
I removed the old door sweep. The wretched thing had been worn down to the nub over the years.
Go ahead and feast your eyes on those nearly-bald legs, madam. Some women struggle their whole lives with razors and waxes and never have legs as smooth and silky as mine.
Genetics, ladies. I hit the jackpot when it comes to premature balding of the legs. And if you think mine are smooth, you should see my dad’s. He’s the envy of the blue-haired set in Connecticut.
Okay, okay, eyes up here, madam. There’s rotten wood that needs fixing!
Normally, this would be a job for a rotted wood restorer, but as I did this repair shortly after moving in, and I didn’t have my shop fully set up, I just used what I had on hand, and that was CA (super) glue. Lots and lots of CA glue. I buy it in big bottles – it’s much cheaper that way. I also use an instant hardener – absolutely fantastic stuff. Creates a powerful exothermic reaction that gets so hot it smokes. Just don’t get the glue and the hardener on your skin. It burns like hell, and you get to watch your skin smolder.
Ask me how I know.
Anyway, CA glue and insta-set works wonders on rotten wood.
I just flooded the whole area. Note that I’m using the thinnest CA glue, so it really penetrates into the rotten areas.
Once I had it good and soaked with CA glue, I poured in some hardener.
That white stuff is boiled and hardened CA glue that has reacted with the hardener. The rest of that wood is now hard as a rock.
I sanded the excess CA glue in preparation for the wood filler.
Ahhh, Bondo – my favorite wood filler. This is the 70s muscle car of wood fillers. Other wood fillers perform like Yugos in comparison.
Bondo is a two part filler that uses a red cream as a catalyst.
I mixed it up quick and set to work. Bondo sets fast – you only have at most a few minutes to work with it before it begins to harden.
Artistry was not an option. I just gooped it on and spread it around.
I let it harden for about 30 minutes. I could see that it would need a second coat in one spot.
I used my detail sander to remove the excess before the second coat.
Then I mixed up another small batch and spread it on to fill the remaining gap.
Thirty minutes later, I sanded it again until the filler was flush with the rest of the door.
With the rotten wood fixed and filled, I moved the sander to the rest of the door. Scuffing up the black paint would help the new paint adhere better. I think I was using 100 grit sandpaper for this, but anything would be fine from 60-150 grit.
After running the sander over all the flat areas (I quickly hand-sanded the recessed parts), I cleaned the whole door with Krud Kutter Gloss-Off. I like to use this stuff whenever I can when painting over an existing glossy surface. It does a great job of removing shine by creating tiny etches all over the finish when applied.
Okay, we’re finally at the “how to paint a front door” part. That didn’t take too long, did it?
(Don’t answer that.)
Even though many paints come as paint-and-primer-in-one these days, it’s a good idea to use a dedicated primer for something as high-use and exposed as a front door. If you want the best adhesion, you can splurge for Zinsser BIN, a shellac-based primer. I didn’t have any in the basement, but I did have Zinsser 123, so I settled for that. With the sanding and deglossing prep I did, it would be more than adequate for the job.
You don’t need a thick coat of primer – just enough to cover the surface a bit to improve adhesion. In other words, you don’t need this much:
Hey, what can I say? I got a little excited, okay?
Anyway, with the repaired area primed to the bejeezus, I dialed it back for the rest of the door.
When the primer was dry, I started painting. The key here (as with all painting) is multiple thin coats. I put a total of 4 thin coats of paint on this front door.
Painting doors is a breeze with foam rollers, and they leave the smoothest finish outside of spraying.
For the recessed parts, I used the tip of the roller.
I didn’t worry about getting full coverage on the first coat. Thin coats, little bit at a time, build it up slowly.
It’s torture for me to paint like this. I grew up in the school of “one coat, thick as hell.” But trust me, it’s worth it if you want a paint job that will last!
When the final coat was dry to the touch, we moved the door inside to dry further in the air-conditioned house. You may have heard that it gets a tad hot and humid here in the summer, and that can make outdoor painting a maddening endeavor.
But, hey! Look at that repair job! You’d never guess that wood was rotten and falling off.
Okay, so normally in this situation, I’d just go out and buy new hinges in oil-rubbed bronze like I did when painting our interior handles. But these hinges are some wackadoodle hybrid of square and rounded corners the likes of which I couldn’t find in any store.
After a fruitless search, I gave up and decided to paint them.
But this is the only picture I took. 🙁
Just before reinstalling the hinges, I added a new door sweep.
With Baris and Handan’s help, I re-installed the door, and then I re-installed the knob and deadbolt.
Now I can once again lock the door from anywhere…including here:
Okay, so if you’ve read our Easy DIY Fall Wreath post, you’ve already seen the newly-painted front door in action. Here are some more pics, and in them you’ll notice a few other changes.
Yep, the Hedge from Hell has been banished to the underworld.
We removed the old single lantern and installed two new ones. I covered the old lantern’s junction box with a piece of cedar I cut and stained, and then I mounted a flagpole on it.
Stardew is a beautiful color – especially on our front door! It complements the brick perfectly.
We love having the storm door there – it lets tons of light in, and the dogs like to sit inside and watch all the action in the neighborhood. The only downside is taking pictures of our front door through it! So to better show the door in all its painted glory, I did a little Photoshop magic to remove the storm door from the following photograph.
As much as I’d love to have that look all the time, we’d need to do a lot of repair work if we removed the storm door. Whoever installed it….oh, don’t get me started – you know the deal with these contractors! Besides, the storm door keeps our newly-painted door nice and dry, so we won’t end up with more rot!
For those following along, here’s how we stand with the short-term project list.
The Navage Patch Short Term Goals 2020 Checklist
Install radon mitigation system Bring power and light to the basement Install hardwood floors on the first floor Phase 1 Pantry makeover – DIY pantry shelves Install hardwood floors on the first floor Phase 2 Stain the staircase posts and handrails Kitchen remodel Install kitchen backsplash Build workbenches Build dog feeding station Build floating shelves Paint interior walls, trim and bedroom ceilings Dining room chandelier makeover Dining room makeover(this post)
- Change living room fan
- Change foyer chandelier
Paint interior door knobs
- Baris’s room setup & related projects (in progress)
Floating desks for Baris’s study Office setup & related projects Change front door lantern and install a second one(this post) Paint front door(this post) Remove big shrubs near front door
- Replace the ghost window