Painting Doors and WoodworkPreparing and painting doors and woodwork is a fairly easy DIY job but you still need to follow some simple guidelines to obtain the best results. Below you will find all you need to know about painting doors and woodwork to a high standard.

Preparing Woodwork

All wood surfaces need to be painted with a primer first. Then use undercoat and a final gloss or oil based paint for the final hard wearing finish. If you need to use a wire brush or coarse sandpaper first to prepare a rough surface – do so but always use a smooth grade sandpaper last. You need to use a fine sandpaper or finishing cloth to create a final smooth finish for the paint to hold smoothly. You can also ensure a good pre-painting surface by washing with a mild detergent first and/or vacuuming the surface before painting. Ensure the surface is dry before you start painting. It’s not always necessary to remove existing paint because if there is a good coat of existing paint it will, in fact, provide an excellent surface for your fresh paint. However, if the existing paint is flaky it should be removed.

door1 A good DIY tip is to test this out with sticky tape. Apply it over the surface and if it pulls off the paint you know you need to sand it down. You can also remove it first with a chemical application or heat gun, if required. You can also fill any cracks and holes in your doors or wood surfaces before painting with a suitable wood filler. Again, allow to dry and sand down before painting.

20px break

Remove Door Furniture First

Always remove handles, hooks, keyhole plates and other brass, metal and plastic door furniture if you wish to achieve the best results. While you may think it will be quicker not to, in most cases it is actually better to remove door furniture. If you leave door furniture on you will find you have to go back and repair messy areas and you may find you have to remove the furniture later, anyway, in order to rectify a bad finish.

By removing furniture you will avoid creating running paint marks, smudging and other blotches which will tarnish your work. By removing furniture you will also improve your ability to work freely which will increase the likelihood of achieving a decent final finish.

It’s also a good tip to always store your door furniture in a safe place with all the screws in their required holes. This makes it easier to refit them. This is also a good time to give keyholes and handles, etc, a good clean before returning them to the doors. You can also mend or replace hinges that are sticking or not working properly during this period. It’s also advisable to loosely refit door furniture between coats to allow the doors to open and close.

Painting Doors


  • Paint doors after walls and window frames but before skirting boards.
  • Always set out to paint doors fully in one operation to achieve an all over smooth finish.
  • Remove door furniture (see above).
  • Complete any required repairs or sanding before painting. 20px break door3
  • If you decide to remove the door completely that is a decision for you. It’s not strictly necessary and is more time consuming. Plus if you do remove you will have to have the appropriate space to work on the doors. You may feel it is worth it for a better result but it depends on your available time and circumstances. 20px break
  • If the door is staying on its hinges use a wedge to keep it open and ensure the side, hinge and handle areas are exposed.  door
  • Always use an appropriate undercoat even if painting over existing paintwork. Also remember it is advisable to use two undercoats if painting a final light coat – white, say – over a darker painted surface – e.g. brown or black. This will ensure your final finish is the required colour
  • Doors need a hard wearing silk or gloss as a final coat to prevent wear and tear. 20px break

Panel Doors

There’s a logical order for painting panel doors to ensure a decent finish. Use a smaller brush about 25-30 mm at first and always paint the mouldings first – the raised bits. Then use a bigger brush – 50-70mm – to paint the panels. Then paint the vertical centre sections. Next do the top, middle and bottom horizontal bands. Next the vertical outside sections and edges. You may find a smaller brush more suitable for the edges. Finally, you can paint the frame.

Flush Doors

Much easier to paint are flush doors. You can use a big brush – 75mm or more – and start on the top side of the hung side and work in sections towards the opposite corner. Begin with vertical strokes then cross brush each section to fill in gaps. Finally, complete each section with light upward strokes to create a smooth finish.

Final Painting Tips

door5 As a general rule try and avoid the build up of a ridge especially on the sides of the doors or around mouldings and panels. Try to spread paint evenly. A common DIY painting mistake is to plaster too much paint on when you start. If this is at the top of a door it can look unsightly. Work steadily to prevent patches appearing.

20px break