How to Paint a Door (Without Removing It.)

I enjoy seeing houses that have the character to pull off having brightly painted front doors.  In my traditional neighborhood however, we have a home owners association so colorful doors are out.
My sad little door was in desperate need of some TLC.  It didn’t look too bad from a distance.
But close up was another matter.  The door was directly exposed to the elements until my husband insisted on getting a glass storm door.  He liked the idea of being able to open the front door to bring in light but still have a “door” closed.   Many in our neighborhood have them but I am not a big fan.  We discussed and debated the merits of installing one and finally decided to do it.  (I finally gave in…)  Next it was time to resurrect the old wooden door.
The storm door isn’t so bad after all and as an added plus, it protects the (already ruined) door from the weather.  The door looked so bad that I’m slightly embarrassed to even show the before pictures.
The inside finish was actually still in good condition.  I just never liked the orangey stain color.  It seemed to clash with everything.  (In fact, you could say that I detested it.)
Now, there are different ways to bring an old door back to life.  (I chose to do the easiest way with the least amount of work.)  I didn’t want to remove the door from the hinges or remove the hardware so I just taped everything up.  I hand sanded the door with a coarser grit sandpaper first to remove all the old finish that I could.  I used a satin exterior paint and primer in one from Behr call Ebony.  (And then all the boring sanding and painting part.)  The wood was so damaged in some spots that even after sanding, the wood grain still showed through.  (We’ll just call it character.)
Lets skip ahead to the part where it’s dry and I don’t want to paint anymore.  I added vinyl lettering (numbering?) on the front of the door with our house number.  (Just in case people don’t see the numbers already on the large column to the right of the front door.)
Here is the finished door (finally) with the storm door propped open.  (It was necessary to keep it open otherwise the glass door would act as a big mirror and the picture wouldn’t be of my handiwork on the door but a reflection of me standing there with my camera in my pajamas.)
One more picture of the weather beaten embarrassment of a front door.

And the delightful after.  (I think a new doormat should be next on the list.)

~Miss Charming

Find out how I was later able to add a fun pop of color and pattern to the door without upsetting the HOA!


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Gee, I guess I never noticed your door was weathered. The black is nice though! 🙂 (Jane)

  2. A world of difference! The black door and vinyl numbers are so much richer and more sophisticated. Great job!

  3. Liz @ says:

    wow! it looks great! i think the black really sets off the color of your house. thanks for sharing!!!

  4. It looks beautiful. I would like to get vinyl numbers for our door as well – which my hubby agrees to – but he won't agree with painting the door black. Boo…I really do love the look! 🙂

    evie @ brown paper packages

  5. Love it! Cant wait to have hubby paint ours. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I have been thinking about black as a color for my door and I think it looks really nice on yours. But my favorite part is the house numbers!!!

  7. Love the new look. Our front door is black and I really like it. =)

  8. What a difference it makes! I love it!

  9. Dining Delight says:

    Looks great! I love black doors and we have just ordered a new front door in black and I can't wait till its installed. I know what you mean about storm doors, there are pro's and con's. At least, yours is a nice clear one whereas the one we are getting rid of is half window/screen and half wood – ugly!


  10. did you paint the storm door too?

  11. Yes, that's quite a transformation! Lovely!

  12. Okio B Designs says:

    I love your new door! Thanks for sharing the DIY as I have some doors around the house that need a little TLC too. Coming over from Met Monday and your newest follower!


  13. Your new door looks wonderful and I love the color.

  14. ♥ Sonny ♥ says:

    You worked hard on this and it certainly paid off. Now you have an elegant welcoming front door and I have no doubt its made your entire exterior look terrific..
    applause applause

  15. The Jongejans says:

    I LOVE IT!! Painting my front door is actually one of the first things I'm going to do once we buy the house we're living in. It needs help BIG TIME!!

  16. Denton Den says:

    Love it! We painted our door maroon last summer and it is amazing what a little color can do to the charm of your house! Just a bit of advice…do not put a sticker skeleton on it for Halloween! I am in the process of peeling off sticker and paint..UGH! Hoping I can touch up paint the spots in 40 degree weather!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Bravo! You have inspired me! We have a red brick
    house with black shutters and a dingy white door. I have been wanting to paint the door but never thought of black. What a wonderful idea. I'm heading to get paint tonight! Supose I'll have to repaint the shutters too or they will look dingy.
    Thanks for the GREAT post and wonderful idea.

  18. Anonymous says:

    LOVE IT!!! We moved into our home just over a year ago & the one thing we thought we would want to change right away was the front door color – it is ORANGE! It has kind of grown on us & looking at our brick color, the only other option seemed like white or black. I wasn't convinced on the black – but after seeing yours, I love it & want to do it! Thx for sharing!

  19. Where are the vinyl numbers from?

  20. BexBloomwood says:

    See if a magnet sticks to your door handle. I bet you'll find it's solid brass (I was pleasantly surprised to find out ours was). I soaked it in salt and vinegar, SOS pad, sprayed with a coat of polyurethane and VOILA! It's stunning. Truly the meaning of antique brass.

  21. Gwen Carroll says:

    where did you get the vinyl numbers?

  22. Miss Charming says:

    Unfortunately the hardware is not brass, just some weather damaged metal. The vinyl numbers were from a friend who has a vinyl business. (I'm sure a Cricut or Silhouette machine would work as well.)

  23. How did you sand the beveled parts of the door? I have a door and door frame that I haven't been able to use a sander on. Thanks!

  24. renate parks says:

    Awesome job! I have painted the outside of my front door, but the inside is that outdated stain look that you mentioned. My husband is one of those that hates me to paint the wood. But the finish is coming off in spots, and it looks awful! I might just have to do it! Any ideas for updating the front of a 1960's, all-brick ranch (besides painting the brick)?

  25. Miss Charming says:

    I sanded the beveled areas on the door by hand. Renate- Sometimes changing something as simple as the color of the front door or adding shutters can bring about a fresher look. Beef up the landscaping or at the very least add pots with flowers or plants around the door. Planter boxes can make a difference, too. Adding a wreath to the door is one of the easiest ways to spruce up the look of the house. Also consider vinyl lettering. You could have "welcome", your family name, favorite quote, house number or even just a design or something you change with the seasons. The nice thing about vinyl is that it isn't permanent. Good luck!

  26. Leilani says:

    It's beautiful!

  27. Anonymous says:

    that's what I'm looking for. thanks for the tips. no removing no bs. we are not professional painters. we don't have time to remove it and then put it back, and will the house stay doorless. your way is practical and easy. thanks

  28. Hello,
    You did a great job on your door. I see that others asked about where you got the vinyl letters but I didn’t see a response. Could you let me know?
    Thanks for having this site and such creative insights!

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  1. […] room makeover I’ve started working on our front door, entry and hallway so the house numbers Gina created with her Silhouette I knew I had to do something similar with mine. Details will be coming […]