How to Paint a Garage Door

by Team HomeServe
Aged red oak garage door getting power washed and refinished

Painting a Garage Door at a Glance

  • Step 1: Clean and prep
  • Step 2: Prime
  • Step 3: Remove hardware and apply tape
  • Step 4: Paint from top to bottom
  • Step 5: Let dry

Replacing your garage door could significantly increase your home's value — but what if you don't have the budget for a new door? Painting your garage door is a cost-effective alternative to improve your home's curb appeal.

This May Also Interest You: 5 DIY Garage Door Makeover Ideas

Find out how to paint a garage door below using simple step-by-step instructions.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on a Garage Door?

The type of paint you should use depends on the door material. Using the right paint for your garage door makeover is crucial for achieving a smooth, durable result.

Generally, latex-based paint is the best choice for your garage door because it's less likely to crack with fluctuating temperatures. The only exception is metal garage doors, which are better suited to oil-based paint.

However, if your garage door has been painted before, you'll need to consider the type of paint on the door already when making your choice. You can generally tell which type of paint was used by rubbing an inconspicuous part with some denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol will remove latex paint, while oil-based paint will stay put.

Generally, you should use latex paint over latex paint because adding oil-based paint over the top will cause it to peel. Likewise, metal doors painted with oil-based paint should be repainted with oil-based paint because it will protect the door better and give an improved finish.

If you want to apply latex paint over oil-based paint, you'll need to add a coat of primer first, and you may need to apply several layers. Ensure that any paint you intend to use is compatible with the paint on the trim, which may be different from the paint on the door.

Finally, ensure that any paint you choose to use on a garage door is labeled as suitable for exteriors. Interior paint has similar ingredients but isn't formulated to withstand the elements. While interior paint on a garage door will look fine at first, the color will fade far quicker, and it will be more prone to chipping and peeling.

What’s the Best Way to Paint a Garage Door?

Knowing how to paint a garage door properly is important for achieving a good finish. You can use the step-by-step guide below to perform a DIY garage door makeover:

Step 1: Clean and Prepare

Begin by washing your garage door with a deck wash solution, taking care to avoid splashing any nearby plants, then rinse it with water. Once it's dry, scrape off any peeling paint. If you have a wooden garage door, fill any holes with caulk and sand any gray or rough patches.

Step 2: Prime the Door

If your garage door has never been painted before, apply a layer of primer over the entire surface. Otherwise, prime any areas where paint has come away, sand the entire door to scuff off the glossy paint surface and blend the primed patches with the rest of the door. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust. Then, rinse the door and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Step 3: Remove Hardware and Apply Tape

Remove the handles and any other hardware on the garage door that you don't want to paint. Use tape to cover the seal. You can either paint the weatherstripping or tape over it to keep it bare. If the seal or weatherstripping are damaged, now’s the time to repair or replace them. Open the garage door and cover the floor below to protect it. If your garage door has an opening mechanism, unplug it and place a block under the door to support it.

Step 4: Paint From the Top Down

If you have a wooden door, paint the panel framing and then the panels using a 4-inch brush. Once you've finished painting, use a roller to smooth the paint surface.

If you have a metal door, start by painting the stiles before moving onto the panels using a 4-inch flat-edged brush. Begin at the edges of each panel and work towards the middle. Finish each panel with horizontal brush strokes, alternating between left to right and right to left. Follow the same brushing pattern on each panel for a consistent finish.

Step 5: Let the Door Dry

Leave the door open for a few hours to allow it to dry. You should then avoid touching the surface for the amount of time specified in the manufacturer's instructions.

More Related Articles:

Can You Paint a Metal Garage Door With a Roller?

You can paint a metal garage door with a roller, provided it's made from natural fibers. While a roller will provide a smooth finish, you may need to apply multiple layers to achieve a consistent finish and stop any metal from showing through.

Can You Spray Paint a Garage Door?

You can spray paint a garage door, but it's important to choose an exterior spray paint that's suitable for the material you're painting. Using an industrial paint sprayer is a good way to achieve a professional-looking result.

Alternatively, you could use canned spray paint. However, bear in mind that this could be relatively expensive as you'll need several cans to cover the entire door. Whichever method you choose, protect your eyes with goggles and avoid painting your garage door on a windy day.