Do you have a front door that needs updating? This tutorial will show you how to refinish a front door, making sure it’s perfectly finished and installed. Make your house curb appeal ready by updating an old front door and bringing it new life!

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If you have ever watched any home improvement show, you know that curb appeal is a big deal. A makeover to the front of your house can make a world of difference and help your home stand out around the neighborhood in a good way. The front door is one of the first things people see when they visit your home. So, learning how to refinish a front door is smart if you’re looking for a quick and affordable home makeover.

It’s actually very easy to refinish a front door. It just takes a few supplies and a little bit of planning ahead!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Supplies:

Supplies you probably have at home:

  • An old door – you’ll want to make sure this door is up to code and in good shape, i.e. not rotten, termite ridden, etc.
  • All purpose cleaner and sponge
  • Painter’s tape
  • Hammer and screwdriver – be sure to notice whether a flat head or Phillips head screwdriver is needed for the hinges
  • Sawhorses (optional, but helpful!)
  • Painter’s tarp

Supplies you’ll need to purchase before beginning:

  • Paint – I recommend door and trim paint that doesn’t require sanding or priming. Only a small can is needed.
  • Sand paper or electric sander – only if your paint selection requires it
  • Small and medium roller paint brush
  • Small and medium detail brush – high quality!
  • New hinges and fixtures, if desired

Here’s how to refinish a front door, step by step!

Step One:

Prep is as important as the actual project, so take some time to set up your workstation. Set up two sawhorses or another elevated space that your door can sit on while you work. Cover with a painter’s tarp, if necessary. Gather the rest of your supplies and keep them handy.

Step Two:

Remove any old nails, screws, etc., from the door.

Step Three:

Take the front door off of the door frame. Depending on the age of the door and hardware, you may have to unscrew the hinges completely to get the door off. First, try to remove the pin that holds the door in place. To do this, place the screwdriver upside down under the pin. Then tap it with the hammer to remove the pin and the door will come off.

Otherwise, you’ll have to use the screwdriver to unscrew the hinges from the door and door frame. If you are replacing the hardware completely you can also remove the hinges this way.

Step Four:

Use painters tape to tape off any areas that you don’t want to be painted. For example, glass panes, door handles, the back of the door, etc.

Step Five:

If you’re working with someone, this can be done at the same time as step four.

Wipe down the door using an all purpose cleaner and sponge. This isn’t 100% necessary, but if you live in a dusty place (like the desert) or the door is more than 5-10 years old, there is likely a good amount of dirt and grime on the door that you don’t want trapped under your paint.

Step Six:

Begin painting! A roller brush and regular brush will have different textures, so we found for our door that it was best to use the rollers for all of the areas that we could and then just use the brushes in the smaller areas. Be sure to use a light amount of paint. When we used the rollers, they almost felt too dry, but when you pushed into the door and rolled across the surface, there was easily enough paint on them. It’s better to have too little paint and add more than too much.

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Step Seven:

Touch up areas that were missed with the roller brush, including areas lined with painter’s tape.

Pro tip for painting around tape:

You always want to dab along the edges of painter’s tape. If you paint over it normally, there will be too much paint, and it will likely seep under the tape and you won’t have crisp lines. If you get paint on any glass parts of your door, use a razor blade to scrape it off once it’s dry.

Step Eight:

Once the first coat has tried, repeat steps six and seven.

Step Nine:

Allow door to dry completely so that you can touch the paint.

Step Ten:

If you’re replacing hardware on the doors, like the handles, lock strikes, etc. replace those once paint is completely dry. Replace hinges as well if you’re using the pin method. Then you’re ready to hang your door. Grab an extra set of hands to help you balance the door while it gets put back on the hinges.

Pro tips for refinishing a front door:

  • I recommend door and trim paint that doesn’t require sanding or priming. Be mindful of the other colors on your house when picking a color for your front door. Don’t be afraid to pick a bolder color. You want it to stand out.
  • You want high-quality brushes so that the bristles don’t drop and get stuck under the paint.
  • Even though you’ve cleaned off the door, do a quick wipe down of an area before painting it in case dust or bugs have gotten onto the door since you cleaned it
  • You can repaint the door while it’s still hung, but it may require more attention to detail in smaller areas
  • Be sure to not have a heavy amount of paint on your rollers and brushes. The paint used for doors is thick and will drip if you have too much.
  • You’ll likely need two coats to fill in any imperfections in your painting technique. But the paint will take a while to dry fully, so be aware before you begin!
  • You want to paint on a warm, dry day if at all possible. It will help the paint dry more quickly and evenly. Don’t leave the door in direct sunlight to dry.
  • Inspect and replace weather stripping on door, if necessary.
  • Start this project early in the day. You’ll want to wait a while after the second coat before you hang the door back up. If the paint is still a bit sticky, it’s probably safe to hang it at that point, but it may still be wet and smudge a bit.
  • Old front doors (ours is from 1959) may be really heavy. Find this out before beginning so that you can have an extra set of hands for re-hanging the door.
  • Aligning the hinges is the hardest part and you may be holding the door up for a few minutes while someone else drills in the hinges again. This is much easier if you can just put the pin back in the hinges.

Now your home is curb appeal ready!

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How to Refinish a Front Door

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About the Author

Madison Wetherill

Madison is a lifestyle + food blogger at A Joyfully Mad Kitchen. Her recipes have been featured on the Today Food Club and other food blogs. She focuses on easy to make recipes and tips to take the stress out of cooking and hosting friends and family. She lives in Arizona where she is passionate about community, design and photography.

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