Yay!!! I finally finished my first home improvement project for our new house and I’m so excited about how it turned out! Ever since I can remember it’s been a dream of mine to live in a house with a red front door. And even though our new house has almost everything on my dream home wish list, the front door was definitely in need of a face lift.
Sad. It just looked so sad. First of all, it was painted this weird creamish color (terribly done, by the way, streaks just everywhere) which faded it completely into the side of the house. No character or charm to report there. And second of all, the previous home owners had a large dog who apparently liked to scratch at their front door and lay right up against it, so it had taken quite a beating (not to mention it was filthy and it smelled like dog, ew). I couldn’t just leave it like that.
So, I did a some quick Pinterest research, looked at a few front door painting tutorials and thought to myself, I can fix that. (“Holes” quote, anyone? Anyone?) And so I did! And you can too if your front door is as desperate for some personality as ours was.
I’m putting together my own DIY tutorial now to add what I’ve learned to the mix. There are some things that worked great for me and some things I wish I had known beforehand, both of which I’ll share with you today. But first, here are the supplies you’ll need:
- 120 grit sandpaper
- Painter’s tape
- High density foam rollers (at least two) – make sure they’re relatively small so you have more precision with where you get the paint
- Small foam paint brushes (at least two)
- Primer (we got about one quart)
- The red paint! (about one quart)
- **Optional: spray paint for the hardware
We went to Home Depot for everything. I picked up some sample paint chips a few weeks prior, went back and forth a zillion times on which color I liked best, and finally settled on a gorgeous shade called Red Delicious (by Glidden). Make sure you ask for the exterior version of whatever paint you choose, as your door will be exposed to the elements.
Your first step will be to remove all the hardware and tape up the holes from the inside so that no dust/dirt can get in your house. Then, if you’d like, remove your entire door and place it somewhere you won’t mind dripping paint on (I laid out a few garbage bags on our back patio and put the door on top). I’ve read that you can do this entire project with your door still in its frame, but we chose to take it out completely because #1, it’s summer in Arizona and we couldn’t have our door just hanging open while the paint dried all day… #2, I didn’t want to spend all day trying to keep Jameson away from it… and #3, I didn’t want to take any chances with paint dripping and ruining the project. But it’s entirely up to you! If you’re using the foam rollers you probably won’t have issues with dripping anyway.
Once your door is ready, you can start to sand it down. I guess sanding isn’t necessary for everyone, but for us it was. I wanted to get off that top layer of ugly cream paint (plus nasty dirt and grime) and give my new primer and paint a clean surface to grab onto. No need to break your back over it, though! A light overall sanding (with special focus on any rough parts or imperfections) will do the trick. When you’re done, wipe the door down with a damp cloth to get rid of the dust.
Next, prime your door using a foam roller. I used this deep gray primer that was recommended to me by the nice men at Home Depot. (The can says “white” but it was actually the gray version.)
Our door only needed one coat of primer but the original paint was pretty light to begin with and, again, I was using a deep gray shade of primer. You may need a second coat if you’re painting over a dark color door, or if you’re using a white primer. The guys at Home Depot told me that red is tricky in general to get thick and even coverage with so it’s better to be liberal with your priming than to get stuck doing like six coats of red later on.
Give your primer an hour or two to dry and then break out the red! There is a particular order you need to follow when painting a six panel door to get that smooth finish. There are a couple of slight variations, but I found a general example online to follow and I love how my door turned out. Here are the steps (shown as I painted on the primer, which isn’t necessary but I did it to give myself practice before starting on the red):
- Paint the insert parts using a paintbrush or a small foam brush. (I used a paintbrush but in hindsight I wish I had used a foam brush because the regular paintbrush leaves brush strokes. Not absolutely crazy about that, but oh well!)
- Paint the raised panels using a foam roller.
- Paint vertically between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
- Paint horizontally between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
- Paint vertically along the two edges of the door.
Give your door a good 3-4 hours to dry really well before you start on the second coat of red (advice given to me once again by my friends at the Home Depot). I only needed to do two coats of red total and I still had a little bit of red paint leftover from the quart I bought (I actually ended up using some of that to touch up around the peephole). After you’re done with the second coat give the door a few more hours to dry again before you reattach it to the frame and close it. Otherwise it will stick to the weather stripping and mess up your beautiful work!
Once the door was done and lookin’ real purty, I knew I couldn’t just leave the hardware all brassy and outdated. But I also didn’t want to buy all new stuff either because $$$. So I did a little more Pinterest research and found a great alternative… spray paint! Seriously, so cheap (I think the can was like $7) and so easy too (I just sprayed the hardware, let it dry, and screwed it back in). And the results look awesome and super professional! I used an oil-rubbed bronze shade and it’s exactly what I was hoping for.
I left a little gold on the deadbolt because I was afraid of tampering with the lock’s functioning, but I may go back and touch it up carefully. And when we repaint the outside of the house (hopefully this winter), we’re planning to fix up the door casing as well. For now, though, the front door makeover is complete! What do you think??
I’m absolutely loving it. Makes my heart so happy! I also added a couple of pretty plants to make the patio more welcoming, and eventually I’d like to replace that light with something to match my newly bronzed hardware (because right now it is yeesh). But that’s for a later time! For now, I live in a house with a red front door and I am happy. 🙂