How to Paint an Exterior Metal Front Door without Brush Marks

A lot of homeowners are under the impression that painting an exterior metal door is just the same as painting any type of door. So they paint it as normal until later on when they see unattractive brush marks. While this can work for some homeowners if they accept it as part of its style, most homeowners would hate looking at it so they’ll spend more time, effort and money to correct it.

A metal front door is supposed to be sleek and smooth. This is why brush marks will defeat the purpose of having this type of front door. Brush marks may look nice on a wooden one, but they will trigger your obsessive-compulsive personality if you see them on a metal door.

How to Paint a Front Door without Brush Marks 

Actually, the easiest way to ensure this is to hire a professional. Professional painters, especially the experienced ones, have been doing this for a long time already that they know what to do from the preparation to the finishing. This way, you can just sit back as you watch them do it for you. Once done, you can enjoy your metal front door that’s newly-painted minus the brush marks.

But since you’re reading this article, you want to learn how to paint a front door without brush marks. We have this covered. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Remove the door.

Swing it open and look for the hinges that connect it to the frame. Locate the hinge pin and position a screwdriver against it. Hammer the screwdriver lightly in order to loosen the hinge until it’s removed. Do the same for the other hinges. Most doors will have 2 or 3 of them.

Pull the door away from the frame. Ask for help if necessary. Place it down slowly and safely on a flat surface.

This is also when you remove all the attached hardware to avoid getting paint on them. Basically, remove whatever you don’t want to be painted. For example, you’d want your door knocker to remain as shiny stainless steel, right?

Use a screwdriver for this task. Don’t use power tools. This calls for more delicate tools.

NOTE: This step shouldn’t be necessary especially if you live in an area where it’s cold because the cold weather will make it longer for the paint to dry. No matter how safe you think your neighborhood is, you wouldn’t want an open invitation for would-be robbers. A missing front door is an open invitation for criminals.

  1. Prepare the area for painting.

The surface has to be clean and free from grease. This is why it’s recommended that you clean the surface using a degreasing cleaner. You have to know that grease will make it harder for the paint to adhere to the surface properly and completely.

If the door is not too greasy or if it’s a new one, a spray cleaner will work just fine. Just make sure to check the label to make sure that it can work on whatever surface your door has.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the cleaner. Make sure that you protect yourself accordingly using goggles, gloves and the likes. Once you’re done, use a dry and clean cloth to dry the surface.

Next, make sure to tape the parts that you don’t want to be painted on. At this point since you’ve already removed the fixtures, it’s just a matter of taping the sides and the edges. If the design calls for some surface to remain unpainted, then tape those surfaces as well. Of course if there are fixtures that you can’t remove like windows, tape them as well.

Take this time to inspect the door properly to see if there are dents that you’d like repaired. Sand down the dents using an 80-grit sandpaper before using a patching compound to cover the dents. Allow to dry for at least 40 minutes before leveling them using a 150-grit sandpaper. Do so until the dents are not that obvious anymore.

Once you’re done, it’s time to sand the entire door using a 400-grint sandpaper. The goal here is to roughen up the surface a bit, just enough for the primer and the paint to stick. Don’t put too much elbow grease on this task or else, you may end up damaging the door.

There should be a lot of dust and you need to remove them. Wipe the door using a damp and clean cloth, making sure that it’s totally dust-free once you’re done. If there’s a lot of dust, vacuum it first before wiping it down.

  1. Prime the door.

The first thing that you have to know is that by itself, paint wouldn’t stick well to metal. They’re not designed to bond well together. This is why the use of the right primer is important. In this case, the primer will act as some sort of double-sided tape. The metal door will stick to it and it will stick to the paint.

Make sure that the primer is designed to be used for metal doors. Make sure that it’s also compatible with the paint that you’ll be using. If unsure, make sure to ask the paint store before buying.

Using a small paint roller, coat the entire door. Leave it to dry for 1 to 3 hours depending on the primer and the weather conditions. Apply a second coating once dry. Make sure that it’s really dry before advancing.

Since you’re probably painting both sides, you should prime one side at a time. Once you’re done with the 2 coats, you can work on the other side.

NOTE: There are paints that don’t require a primer. If you happen to find one in your area, you can skip this part and just follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply it.

  1. Apply the paint.

This is the crucial step if you want to avoid brush marks. It’s this simple. If you don’t want the appearance of brush marks, don’t use a brush! The best way to apply the paint is with the use of a professional sprayer. This is the one used by professional and experienced contractors. This ensures uniformity.

As an alternative, you can also use a foam roller. Use a smaller roller like a 3-inch one. Resist the temptation to use a bigger one so you can cover more areas per roll. A smaller roller allows you to work around edges and lines. You can use a bigger roller if you have a flat door.

You should also use a roller cover if you’re using a foam roller. Don’t use something with more than a 3/8 inch nap or run the risk of poor texture.

Do note that the glossier the paint is, the more important it is to use a sprayer.

It’s also important that you use paint that’s designed for exterior use. If the can says semi-gloss or exterior satin, then it can be used for the exterior metal door.

Apply the first coat using the sprayer or foam roller. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that you still need to use a brush. This is for hard to reach areas like the grooves. As a consolation, it’s pretty hard to notice the brush marks in these areas.

Leave it to dry for at least 6 hours. Sometimes, it may take up to 18 hours for the surface to dry. Don’t apply a second coating or work on the other side before it’s completely dry.

While applying, make sure that you fix any uneven areas or drip marks. Do this before it dries.

Once the first coating is done and dry, it’s recommended that you apply a second coating. Additional coating will improve its resistance and appearance. Apply additional coatings until you’re fully-satisfied with the appearance.

Once you’re done, you can work on the other side.

You may be tempted to use a heat gun or a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. Don’t do this. This will lead to uneven parts.

The best time to apply the paint is early in the morning or in the evening. This prevents the paint from drying too fast before you get the chance to ensure evenness. If it dries up before you’re finished, you’d have to repaint.

  1. Re-attach the door.

Remove the tapes and attach the fixtures that you removed. Re-attach the door to the frame. If there’s weather-stripping, remove it after re-attaching the door to give it enough space to dry completely without being pressed against the stripping. You can re-install it after a couple of days.

Spray Paint Steel Door

In addition to preventing brush marks. Spray painting steel door leads to more even results. It’s also easier to apply paint using a spray applicator.

Can I Use Latex Paint on a Metal Door?

Yes! Actually, latex is the most common type used for a metal door. It’s used even by professionals. It helps that it’s readily-available.

You do have to choose the right type because there are paints that are designed for interior use. In this case, you have to buy one that’s designed for exterior application. This type has additives that help against changing weather conditions.

What is the Best Kind of Paint to Use on Exterior Metal Doors?

You can check out brands like RustOleum. Check out their oil-based paints. Choose one that has a semigloss finish. This is very important since this is an exterior application. Semigloss paints will make it easier to clean the doors.

Do Primed Steel Doors Need to be Painted?

This is a common question because primed steel doors may look good even without being painted. However, it’s important to note that a primer’s main job is to help the paint adhere to the surface. The primer doesn’t have the protective qualities that exterior paint has. Simply put, it can’t help protect your door against the weather which is very important especially for an exterior door.

How do I Remove Paint from a Metal Door?

Do you need to remove paint from a metal door? Yes. Even if you’re using latex paint, you can’t apply paint on a layer of paint. It has to be bare metal.

One important thing that you have to worry about is whether you’re about to remove lead paint or not, the same way that you may have to consider the presence of lead in old radiators. Removing it on your own is very hazardous. We recommend buying test kits to check if it’s safe to remove or not.

Here’s how to remove it:

  1. Using a paint brush, apply paint thinner on the painted surfaces. Use a pressure washer set to 80 psi and operate via a sweeping motion. Stop every now and then to check how you’re progressing. This task will be very easy if the paint was applied using a spray applicator.
  2. Heat the surface using a heat gun. This will lead to the paint curling up, making it easier to remove. Once it has curled up, you can use a scraper to scrape it away.
  3. Apply paint thinner again. Scrub the remaining paint using sand paper or a wire brush.
  4. Using a soft-bristled brush, scrub the remaining paint using a nail polish remover with acetone.
  5. Rinse with water.

Make sure that you’re careful! Consider buying bulk lead paint test kits if needed.

How to Paint a Primed Steel Door 

We’ve already discussed how to paint a primed steel door. At this point, some of you may still be wondering what primer to use. It’s best to use an oil-based one or rust-resistant latex.

After choosing, it’s just a matter of following the manufacturer’s instructions.

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