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How to Paint Interior Doors

A step-by-step tutorial for painting interior doors to make a statement in any room, plus the best tools for making them durable.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for oh… I dunno… a year? Because apparently when you start painting your doors any color but white, it starts to raise a lot of questions.

A step-by-step tutorial for painting interior doors to make a statement in any room, plus the best tools for making them durable. #interiordoors #doorpaint

Once I brushed on that very first coat of deep charcoal on our first door in this house, there was no going back. It’s been my and Robert’s mission to have every single door painted with Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron ever since we moved in. Every room looks SO much more high-end because of this one little trick… for just the cost of paint!

But I’ve gotten a lot of requests for a tutorial in my inbox lately, so it was high time I shared. And it’s just in time to update y’all about the door situation in the nursery makeover while we’re at it. Woo to the hoo!

How to Paint Interior Doors

Supplies Used: (Some affiliate links are provided below.) 

(If you’re planning to paint French doors or windows, check out this helpful trick too.)

paint interior doors before

1. Before you do ANYTHING, test your existing paint on your door to see if it is oil or latex based. Put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and swab a small spot on your door. If the paint comes off, it is latex.

If the paint doesn’t come off, it is oil based, so you will need to lightly sand your door with fine grit sandpaper to give it some grip. DEFINITELY don’t skip the primer step later, if you have oil based paint, or you’ll have quite a paint peeling headache on your hands. Ack!

liquid deglosser for painting interior doors

2. Wipe down the entire door with liquid deglosser and a rag to remove any existing residue, especially around the door knob where dirt and natural oils from hands can collect.

wood filler before painting interior doors

wood filler before painting interior doors

3. Patch any holes with wood filler and sand it smooth. This door had a hook on it that I needed to remove and patch.

Tip: Use aluminum foil on hinges and doorknobs before painting doors

4. Once the deglosser is dry, you can use aluminum foil or painter’s tape to protect your hinges and doorknob (I usually just free hand it though).

How to paint interior doors

5. Brush on a coat of the primer using a 1.5″ angled brush. I like Purdy brand just because it gives the smoothest finish, from my experience. I start by priming the details and grooves first and then apply it to the flat surfaces after that.

If you’re painting your doors really dark, use tinted primer to help decrease the number of paint coats you’ll need. (Yay for less work!)

How to paint interior doors

How to paint interior doors

How to paint interior doors

6. Once the primer is dry, brush on 1-2 coats of the Benjamin Moore Advance paint using the 1.5″ angled Purdy brush again. I don’t use a roller because the Advance paint is self-leveling and will help hide brush strokes. And it is a waterborne alkyd paint, so it cures to a more durable, harder finish than latex.

7. Check back for paint drips before the paint dries and smooth out any uneven places with your brush.

A step-by-step tutorial for painting interior doors to make a statement in any room, plus the best tools for making them durable. #interiordoors #doorpaint

8. After you’ve painted your final coat, remove your painter’s tape or aluminum foil from the hinges and doorknob while your paint is still wet to prevent peeling or score the tape edge first with a utility knife.

After painting 26 doors in this house now, I think I could do this in my sleep at this point. Haha!

It gets much easier and faster the more you paint.

A step-by-step tutorial for painting interior doors to make a statement in any room, plus the best tools for making them durable. #interiordoors #doorpaint

On all of our other doors in our house, we’ve painted with the color Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron, but since I wanted a softer look in the nursery against all of the white, I decided to use Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray.

It’s the perfect warm medium gray that isn’t too blue (and would be gorgeous on kitchen cabinets).

We put together the crib over the long weekend too, and after hauling in this rug from eSaleRugs and hanging up this art from Society6, I’m so excited to finish all of the final decorating touches. Ahhhh!

A step-by-step tutorial for painting interior doors to make a statement in any room, plus the best tools for making them durable. #interiordoors #doorpaint

A step-by-step tutorial for painting interior doors to make a statement in any room, plus the best tools for making them durable. #interiordoors #doorpaint

If you want to check out the rest of the nursery projects, here are our past updates.

And here’s where we are on the nursery to-do list now:

  • Paint walls Magnolia Home True White in satin
  • Paint ceiling Benjamin Moore Simply White in flat
  • Take down window valance
  • Remove ceiling fan
  • Remove broken closet doors
  • Install picture frame molding
  • Install light fixture
  • Build IKEA dresser and add O’verlays for changing table
  • Install new closet doors
  • Paint doors Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray
  • Remove carpet and refinish hardwood floors
  • Get a crib and glider
  • Hang art and wall decor
  • Hang curtains
  • Put up window shades
  • Add finishing touches

If this baby bean stays put, I might even go all organizing crazy on the closet… but I’m not holding my breath over here just yet. 😉

I’ve officially hit the I-can’t-lie-down-comfortably-anyway-so-I-might-as-well-be-productive phase.

 

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56 Comments

  1. Hi. I absolutely love the look! I just painted a guest bedroom in Stonington Gray and the trim and baseboards white. What color would you recommend that I paint the door? Also, do you paint both sides the same color? Thank you for all the wonderful tips that you share. I always look forward to your wonderful posts!

    1. Hi, Yvonne! I think just so it’s not SO much gray going on, I would paint the doors white unless you wanted to go really bold with it and go dark with the Wrought Iron color. That’s really up to your personal style though. 🙂 I do paint both sides the same color usually (we’ve continued the Wrought Iron color on all of our other doors). But with these nursery doors, one side is painted Stonington Gray and the other side (the door that leads out into the hallway from this room) is painted Wrought Iron on the other side. I painted the door’s edge with Stonington Gray though because it swings in to the room where it’s most visible on that side, if that makes sense.

  2. Do you also paint the inside and top sides of the doors? Was wondering specifically with the nursery where I wondered if you did charcoal on the hallway facing side. Then you’d have a decision on color for the unseen sides of the door…if that makes sense…

    1. Yes! I painted the edges of the door with the Stonington Gray color because the door swings into the room and that edge is most visible on that side, if that makes sense. The charcoal Wrought Iron color is on the hallway side of the door.

  3. Love it all! Great Job! Kudos to you still doing all of this stuff when you are so far along. Congratulations on your new little girl arriving soon. Thank you for your detailed how-to’s. Have a Blessed Day.

  4. Quick question….since the other doors in your house are the dark charcoal, did you paint the outside of the door to the nursery to match the darker color or did you do it the lighter gray as well?

    1. Yes, I should have taken a picture of that! Oops! The outside of the door on the hallway side is the charcoal color. But I painted the edges of the door with the light gray because the door swings into the room making the edge on the light gray side more visible.

  5. Hi,
    I love this!! I’m going to do all of my doors the same color! I have a question. I was going to paint the inside of my front door BM Hale Navy. I bought a navy and cream rug for in front of the door. Is this still ok or do I have to do it grey?
    Thanks so much!
    Susan

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