Is it time to paint your front door? In many homes, the entrance door sees considerable traffic, wear, and tear. Over time, chips and dents take their toll, and colors fade, prompting the need for a paint job. Or, maybe you’re eager to change the color of your front door. Regardless of your reasons, selecting the right paint will help ensure that your work will be worth the effort.
Although you can use interior/exterior paints on your door, products that are formulated specifically for outdoor applications are preferable since they’re more durable and designed to resist staining, chipping, peeling, and fading.
Exterior paints are also thicker, with a higher concentration of pigments and additives, which helps them “weather” the snow, rain, sun, grime, and other challenges that outdoor conditions present.
Paint formulations that are “fade-resistant” or “UV resistant” will be vitally important to your paint job’s longevity if you select a darker color paint.
If your door will be exposed to considerable rain or snow or already shows signs of decay or mildew, you may want to select paint that is “mold-resistant” or “mildew resistant” to avoid these issues in the future.
Latex vs. Oil-Based Paints
Paint store representatives should be able to help guide your selection of the perfect paint for your front door, which depends, in part, on the type of door you have.
Oil-based paint may be preferable for a metal door to reduce the possibility of rust showing through. Latex paints, on the other hand, are typically recommended for fiberglass doors.
Some wooden doors have dark tannins that will “bleed” through paint, creating patches or streaks. This is more likely to occur with darker woods like cedar, redwood, mahogany, cherry, red oak, or cypress. Oil-based paints may be more effective in preventing bleed-through.
Other wooden doors like pine, maple, birch, aspen, or white fir are less likely to bleed and may be good candidates for latex paint.
Latex over Oil vs. Oil over Latex
If you are painting over existing paint, you should also try to use the same type of paint already present.
It’s not a big deal to use oil-based paint over an existing water-based finish, but applying a water-based product over oil-based paint can result in problems. That’s because water-based paints don’t always stick well or evenly to oil-based finishes, which means they may split and separate.
If you aren’t sure if the old paint on your door is oil- or water-based, consider using a bonding primer to ensure the new paint will adhere evenly.
Primer and Paint or a Combo Product?
An all-in-one product that includes both paint and primer will save you time and money over buying two different products, but is only recommended when you are:
- Painting a new door,
- Repainting with the same or very similar color, or
- Painting a darker color over a lighter color.
On the other hand, if you’re going from a darker to a lighter color, it’s preferable to use a primer product before painting. A primer will provide better results by “sealing” in darker colors to avoid bleed-through. It also provides a smoother finish that helps the paint adhere better and look smoother.
If you apply primer before you paint, both products should be of the same type (water or oil-based). To apply fewer paint coats, see if the primer can be tinted to match your paint. Using a white primer for a red door, for example, will make your job harder than it needs to be.
Choosing the Right Color
The color of your front door is a matter of personal taste. You may prefer a bright pop of color, a classic white, or deep, dark shades. However, keep in mind that paints with higher light reflective values (LRVs) will reflect rather than absorb light and heat.
LRV refers to where a paint falls on a scale that ranges from 0 (for black) to 100 (for white). If you paint your door in a shade with a higher LRV, it will absorb less heat, and the color won’t fade as fast. Typically, lighter colors have a higher LRV, and deeper colors have a lower LRV.
You may also want to consider the direction your door faces. For example, south-facing doors without any shade protection are exposed to more intense sunlight.
The Best Paint Finish
Paints come in various finishes. Ultimately, the choice is one of personal preference.
Matte — Flat, matte finishes are an attractive, dramatic choice, but they will need to be repainted sooner since a matte surface doesn’t wear as well or offer as much stain resistance as other finishes.
Gloss — If you prefer the super-shiny characteristics of glossy paint finishes, make sure your door’s surface is smooth and blemish-free since glossy finishes will magnify any imperfections. Glossy paint also shows brush strokes more readily.
Semi-gloss — A semi-gloss paint is a solid “middle of the road” option that provides the advantages of stain resistance and longer wear without the surface perfection demands of a high-gloss finish.