Do You Want to Know What a Panel Door Is?
All I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more. This post turned out to be much longer than I’d anticipated. Yes, it’s about how to paint a panel door with a brush, but it’s become so much more than that. More than I could have ever imagined. Maybe it’s more than you want. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You click the BLUE LINK – you skip right to the information you came here for, and believe… whatever you want to believe. You click the RED LINK – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes…
Welcome to My Rabbit Hole
Yeah. I heard it.
After painting it a lovely shade of gray, and updating the trim, My Crappy House is more attractive than it has ever been! Which… is really not saying very much at all. The landscaping and driveway still look like hell, but those are big ticket items and I just paid for a big ticket wedding. Who has any big ticket money left? Not me!
Painting a crappy front door is one way to gain a little bit of curb appeal without spending big ticket money. If the eyes in your face are the windows to your soul, then the front door to your home is the portal to… your living room, probably. Maybe a foyer, if you’re fancy. (No, not Narnia. That’s a different door.)
Terrible analogies aside, I thought maybe you’d like to know how to paint a panel door with a brush. And maybe you’d like me to show you. It’s the least I can do, since no one is going to Narnia…
Behold, my front door. Just a plain, metal, crappy door. Not so crappy that it warrants replacement, mind you. Front doors are freaking expensive. Maybe not big ticket, but medium ticket for sure. So, what can I do to make it look better? Hmm… What to do…
Hey, I know! Let’s paint it!
WTF is a Panel Door?
Real panel doors are made of separate pieces of wood that all fit together to make one sexy, expensive door. Vertical lengths of wood (called stiles) are attached to horizontal pieces (rails) and shorter vertical pieces (mullions) to make panels. The more rails and mullions there are, the more panels the door will have.
The more you know… ⭐
Prep Your Panel Door
I think we can all agree that I have the smartest, best looking readers on the internet, so I see no reason to insult your intelligence with detailed instructions on how to prep a thing you want to paint. You know how to clean and sand and prime. You’ve probably done it before.
Okay, well maybe you skipped the priming part because who really primes? I mean, you’re supposed to, but… did I? I’ll be honest with you guys. I didn’t not not prime…. I can’t be any clearer than that.
However, I do have a couple of “door specific” prepping tips:
If you’ve got any glass in your door, you’ll want to mask that off with some painter’s tape. You could just wing it with no tape and use a razor blade to scrape the glass later, but I will tell you now that I tried both options on my door and I definitely used more profanity on the side where I didn’t use tape. Just trim the excess with a craft knife.
Also, I removed the door knob, deadbolt, and peephole. Yes, it’s possible to paint around them, but your brush lines will be interrupted by those obstacles and… Well, if you don’t care about interrupted brush lines, then you might as well stop reading this post. It’s not for you.
Lastly, in a perfect world, you would remove your door to paint it. For interior doors, this isn’t usually a big deal, but for the front door… Unless you know you will complete the project in one day, it’s better to leave the door hanging. Statistically speaking, bad guys will nearly always choose a home that’s missing its front door to burgle over a home that has one.
Choosing a Color
I find the phrase “pop of color” as annoying as karate chopped throw pillows, but I’m going to use it anyway. Your front door is a great spot to add a freaking pop of color.
There. I said it.
You can literally pick any color that you think looks good. There’s no front door color police. (Unless, of course, you count HOAs, in which case, I guess some of you may not be allowed to “pop” as much as the rest of us. Sorry for getting your hopes up. First Narnia, now this…)
Having chosen a fairly neutral gray to paint my house (Kendall Charcoal, by Ben Moore), I could pretty much pick any color of the rainbow and it would look nice.
What I chose was the same lovely accent color I have in my kitchen. Kitchen Aid calls it Aqua Sky. I call it… Aqua Sky, also.
I took the lid from my tea cannister in to Sherwin Williams for color matching. They mixed up a perfect match in their Resilience exterior acrylic latex paint in gloss finish. (I just love a glossy front door.) I bought a quart, which is plenty to paint a single door.
How to Paint a Panel Door with a Brush
When painting a panel door, you want your brush strokes to go in the same direction as the wood grain (which is pretty much the rule when you paint any wood piece). But… what if your panel door has no grain? Like, what if it’s faux?
Because my front door is a metal door pretending to be a panel door, there are no grain lines. That’s OK though. By using a brush, I can mimic the look of a wood door and no one will know my door is just a crappy imitation. (Well, except you guys. Don’t tell anyone.)
The Information You Came Here For
If you clicked the blue link to get to this point, you really missed a lot of good stuff. I’m very entertaining. (Everybody says so…) You’ll never know that though because it’s time to get serious. This is a freaking tutorial, dammit. Pay attention.
You need to follow a specific order when painting your panel door if you don’t want it to look like crap when you’re finished. The painting order is as follows:
- The hinge and jamb edges of the door
- Trim around any windows
- Each individual panel
- Vertical mullions between panels
- All horizontal rails
- The vertical stiles
- Repeat steps 1-6 for each coat
For each step, don’t try to be super neat about it. You actually want to paint outside the lines. The paint in each step should overlap the one before it. In other words, step two should overlap the paint from step one. Step three’s edges should overlap step two’s, and so on. Confused? Just look at the pictures for clarity. That’s why I took them.
Step One: Paint the Edges
My door had crappy brass hinges, so I bought new black ones. I swapped them out as I painted the door’s edge, using vertical brush strokes.
If you’re not updating your hinges, just take each one off, one at a time, paint behind it, then reinstall it. The door will hang just fine on the two remaining hinges for a little while.
Try not to get a lot of paint in the recesses where the hinges sit. If the hinges aren’t installed at the same depth that they were, you run the risk of your door not closing properly.
Step Two: Paint Window Trim
If your door has any glass, now is the time to paint the trim around those windows.
Step Three: Paint the Panels
Next, you’ll paint each individual panel.
If your door is a real wood door, then you should follow the wood grain with your brush strokes, which will be vertical. Since my door is metal (and sans grain), I like to paint the panel recesses first; the top and bottom in a horizontal direction and the sides vertically, angling my brush at the corners to miter them, then I paint the center of the panel with vertical strokes.
Step Four: Paint the Mullions
The next step is to paint the vertical spaces between panels, or the mullions. You’ll use vertical brush strokes, and remember to let your paint get on the rails.
Step Five: Paint the Rails
Now you’ll paint the rails using horizontal strokes that overlap the paint from the last step creating a defined edge where the rails meet the mullions, but extending onto the stiles. Are you seeing how this works? It’s like a puzzle.
Step Six: Paint the Stiles
The last step is to paint the stiles, overlapping the paint from the rails. If you followed the steps correctly, each edge should be clean and crisp.
This paint covered really well and I only needed two coats to finish my door. My second coat was done exactly as the first. Once it dried, I installed a new door knob and peephole in black. (Click here for detailed instructions on how to install your very own peephole!)
This concludes the tutorial. You now know how to paint a panel door with a brush. If you clicked the blue pill, then you are free to go. Seriously. Go on. Make like a tree and get outta here. The rest of you, we’re not done in the rabbit hole…
My Finished Painted Panel Door
I’ve got some lovely after pictures to show you, but first these boring pictures of my old and new doorbell. Can’t have my front door looking all pretty next to a crappy, broken doorbell…
This new one is slightly fancier, yet still inexpensive.
And I also bought a new doormat because it was time…
I found this new one on Amazon and it meowed my name….
Is that not the best doormat you’ve ever seen in your whole life? It’s actually two pieces. There’s a doormat frame and the doormat, which fits perfectly inside the frame. (As the word “frame” might suggest…) The doormat would be fine on its own, but I wanted it to be a little more substantial. The frame is heavy rubber that doesn’t slip around.
Oh, yeah. And notice the painted door? Meowza! Here’s another pic…
And here it is from further away. Notice how it draws your eye away from the dead tree (remember when I accidentally killed it?) and crappy driveway. Distraction is a useful design tool…
The Other Side
Are you wondering what the other side of the door looks like? I thought about painting the whole thing “Aqua Sky”, but then I figured it would be crazy to have such a bright color in such a prominent area in the living room.
So I painted it Aqua Sky…
I actually love this freaking pop of color! I think it’s an unexpected, yet perfect, spot to tie in my kitchen’s accent color. Yes, it’s bold, but you know what they say… Fortune favors the bold! So, I’m expecting good things to happen around here. Fortuitous things. Hey, maybe I’ll win the lottery!
I should probably start playing the lottery…
Guys, feel free to subscribe below if you don’t already. I promise you won’t regret it. I mean, you clicked the red link, right? You are my people…
***Time Travel Links! My crappy driveway actually isn’t crappy anymore! Check out some truly emotional before and after pictures here. You’ll laugh… You’ll cry…
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