Today's Homeowner

How to Paint an Exterior Door the Right Way

By: Danny Lipford

Curb appeal instantly boosts a home’s value — but even if you are not selling a home, a freshly painted front door is always a welcome sight.

Surface prep is important when you are painting, but it’s especially important for a wooden exterior door because the weather will constantly abuse the surface.

Begin by removing the hardware so there is no chance of getting paint on it. Next, you will want to scrape and sand any areas of peeling finish. In this case, the door was previously painted without proper preparation. There is so much peeling paint that we are removing the door from the hinges, so we can put it on sawhorses to work horizontally.

After the peeling areas are scraped and the entire door has been sanded with 100-grit sandpaper, we clean it off and begin applying an oil-based primer. The primer does three things: It seals the wood, it fills small divots in the surface and it creates a better surface for the finish paint to adhere to.

Sealing wood that’s subject to moisture is important, especially where the open grain at the top and bottom of the door can soak up water like a sponge. In this case, the peeling was so bad that even after priming there are still some low places that are evident. To fill them in, we are applying a thin layer of auto body filler that will be sanded out flush with the surface before we apply the finish paint.

After two coats the door should be ready to re-hang.


This segment was featured in the “Exterior Repairs” episode of “Today’s Homeowner.” Click here for more projects from this episode.


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Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford is among the country’s most sought-after home improvement experts.
The seasoned remodeling contractor and media personality served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s “The Early Show” and The Weather Channel for over a decade and has made more than 180 national television appearances on “Fox & Friends,” “Inside Edition,” “Morning Express with Robin Meade,” Fox Business Channel, Rachael Ray and more.
He travels the country making appearances as a brand ambassador and spokesperson, and each year contributes expertise to hundreds of popular magazines and online media outlets.


Chelsea Lipford Wolf


Chelsea Lipford Wolf is a born-and-raised home enthusiast, adding her crafty skills and passion for DIY as co-host of the top-rated, nationally syndicated “Today’s Homeowner” TV show.
In addition, Chelsea maintains her own home lifestyle and décor blog and award-winning web-series, “Checking in with Chelsea.”


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One Comment on “How to Paint an Exterior Door the Right Way”

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  • carol l. Says:
    July 19th, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    ‘Not sure what’s going on. I’ve been painting for years. I am painting an exterior door that gets little abuse from weather. It has a factory finish green paint on it so I sanded a little, primed it with 2 coats and started with my rose gloss paint. I used a roller since the brush left marks. The paint peels like a large sheet of latex. Should I have used an oil based primer? The paint isn’t oil based. It’s blotchy and uneven and I’m thinking of using a heat gun to remove it all. Not sure what to do.


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How to Paint an Exterior Door the Right Way