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I paintied all my interior doors dark gray and I LOVE them! I got a lot of feedback on Instagram, Instagram Stories, and Facebook about sharing some tips/how-tos so I put together a door painting tutorial and some tips and tricks on painting your interior doors. I have painted doors at 3 different homes now so I have a few mistakes and lessons learned to pass along.
First, you’ll want to gather supplies. Here are some of my favorites for painting doors:
- 220 grit sandpaper or deglosser (read below on which you’ll want to use)
- Mini roller frame and rollers
- Mini roller tray
- Small brush
- Paintbrush comb (not required but helps keep your brushes SO much cleaner)
- Paint – this is Benjamin Moore Gray 2121-10. I painted front and back of 11 doors and used about 3/4 of a gallon which left me with 1/4 (a little more than that) for touching up as needed.
- PrimerPrimer – this one worked well under the dark gray paint.
- Sawhorses (if you want to take your doors off)
- Plastic drop cloth
How to Paint Interior Doors
Before you start, decide if you want to take the doors off or leave them on. If you’re doing it completely by yourself and don’t want to mess with taking them off, it’s definitely doable – it just takes a bit longer and is more tedious. I switched all my hinges out for black Schlage hinges so I opted to take my doors off.
Once your doors are off or you’re ready to start, you’ll need to figure out what type of paint is currently on your doors. If it is an oil-based paint you’ll want to sand them down with 220 grit sandpaper if you’re using latex paint.
You can find out if it’s oil or not by using a rubbing alcohol soaked cotton ball and rubbing it on the door. If the paint comes off it’s latex based, if it doesn’t it’s oil. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. If you THINK you know and your doors end up being oil and you paint over it with any type of latex, you WILL regret it. You can still use latex but you need to prep the doors first with the sandpaper. I’d also recommend using a primer before your paint just to get good adhesion.
If your door currently has a latex based paint you can just prep it by cleaning it and wiping it with a liquid deglosser. Using a primer here is optional but recommended again for good adhesion. I don’t usually use one on walls, but like it on doors.
Take all the hardware off the door. You can also choose to paint around the hardware, but it’s super simple to take off the hardware and makes painting go much faster.
Now you’re ready to paint!
*Tip: If you took the doors off and are painting them on a sawhorse, try protecting the door with a soft smooth cloth on the sawhorses. It takes a while for the paint to fully cure and there’s a good chance it will stick when you turn them overtaking off some of your new paint. This is one of the downsides of taking them off. You can wait a while for the paint to fully cure (cure time is different than dry time) or you can just touch up the paint after you hang them (this is what I did since I was painting in winter when it was super cold inside).
Start by painting the inset areas of the doors with your brush, then paint the raised/flat areas and sides with your mini roller. Check for paint buildup especially in the recessed areas and smooth out before it dries. You may need to do this more often if your door is still hanging. Allow to fully dry and then repeat for the second coat. *Tip – set a reminder on your phone for when you can apply the next coat.
Hang your doors back up and touch up any areas that need it. Be gentle with the doors for a few days or until the paint is FULLY cured. This paint I used has a 2 week full cure time!
I didn’t take a good before picture but you get the idea here.
And here are the doors in different rooms with some different lighting.
I am in love with this Schlage Custom doorknob we added to the bathroom door. Since our hallway is all doors we thought making the bathroom a unique knob would be an easy way for guests to know which room was the bathroom.
General Tips for Painting Interior Doors
- When choosing paint, try getting a sample and painting a foam board that you can bring in different rooms different times of day. My house has very different lighting throughout the day as well as a hall and bathroom with zero natural light so I made sure to test the color in all the rooms of the house against the different paint colors in the rooms. At first I had a lighter gray but it was too close to one of the wall colors and I didn’t like it.
- Wherever you buy your paint ask which ones are good for doors. Some paint formulas are better for high traffic areas than others. I love how Benjamin Moore Advance paint cures super hard (we used it on our kitchen cabinets) and levels out beautifully (doesn’t show brush strokes) but it’s pricey. We used acrylic latex for these doors.
- When taking doors off, if doing more than one make sure you are ok with not having a door up for a day. For example, I made sure not to take off both bathroom doors at the same time.
- If you leave your doors on when painting, you might consider protecting the trim with painters tape. Especially on the side with the hinges.
Did I miss anything? Let me know if you have any questions!