How to

How to paint an exterior door

Painting your front door is an ideal weekend project and can be completed in only a few hours. But as with any DIY project, a quality result comes down to prep work and using the best Resene paint products for the job. 

Doors are one of the most used and frequently touched areas of your home, which is why waterborne enamels such as Resene Enamacryl gloss and Resene Lustacryl are recommended due to their durability, fast drying time and enhanced mould resistance. Once painted, surfaces coated in Resene enamel paints can also be easily wiped clean. Resene Lustacryl and Resene Enamacryl are both Eco Choice approved waterborne paints and contain fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds) than traditional solventborne formulas – and because they are water-based, clean up is much easier.

Paint like a Pro expert Johnny Warwick from Profile Painters says the first step is establishing what type of paint is already on the door. “A good way to check is to rub methylated spirits on the paint. If it’s a waterborne enamel, the paint will rub off on the cloth,” says Johnny. 

If your door has been painted with a waterborne enamel paint, then you’re good to go with Resene Enamacryl or Resene Lustacryl, but if your door is painted with a traditional enamel then it may require additional prep work. If you wish to have a very high-sheen finish, opt for Resene Super Gloss, a solventborne enamel.

To repaint an exterior door, follow our MasterStroke by Resene guide.


Protect the floor

Start by placing a drop cloth on the floor to protect it from any paint drips and to make cleaning up easier.


Paint check

Establish what type of paint you currently have on the door. Check to see if it’s a solventborne enamel or waterborne enamel by rubbing methylated spirits on it. If it’s waterbased, it will come off onto the cloth.


Remove and mask

Take off all hardware from the door, then mask out anything you don’t want to get paint on, such as hinges, latches or glass.


Sand and wipe

Give the door a light sand to remove the glossy sheen, then wipe off the sanding dust using a clean, dry cloth. Remember to wear a dust mask when sanding.

Note: If your paint is flaking, you may need to remove the coating to give you a sound surface for painting.


Fill and prime

Fill in any holes or defects with contract filler and wait for it to set, then apply one coat of Resene Quick Dry primer and allow it to dry completely.



Now it’s time for your paint colour. Johnny used Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel in Resene Bush. If you are painting the door jamb, paint this before the main door.

If your door has glass, use a cutting-in brush to cut in around the glass, or mask off the glass with masking tape, then paint the panels.

Paint the horizontal panels followed by the vertical ones, making sure your brushstrokes follow the grain of the timber.


Finishing touches

Don’t forget to paint the doorstep using Resene Walk-on paint, a tough acrylic resin for maximum abrasion resistance.

Allow your door and doorstep to fully dry before closing the door.


Shut the front door!

Your freshly painted entrance is ready to make an impression.

When it comes to colour, there’s a rainbow of options from Resene, and a colourful door can add personality to your home. Traditional homes might suit Resene Pohutukawa, Resene Parsley or Resene Aviator with a door jamb in a contrasting white such as Resene Black White, but for striking street appeal, try brighter colours such as Resene Turbo or Resene Hyperactive.

If you’re opting for a dark colour such as Resene Nocturnal, ensure you use a Resene CoolColour variant. The heat reflective Resene CoolColour formula will ensure the paint stays cool when exposed to the sun. Remember you don’t necessarily have to paint the same colour on the side of the door facing the interior of your home. If you decide to paint both sides of your door a different colour and want the edges to work with your colours, paint the leading edge with the same colour as the face of the door, so when you see the door and edge together they match. Or paint the whole door one colour and paint the edge a different colour for a surprise touch.  

Top tip:

Resene Enamacryl gloss and Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss are waterborne enamel paints with the same durability as traditional enamel paints, without the solvents. The low VOC formulas are Eco Choice-approved and will not yellow with age. These tough paints are ideal for front doors as well as trims such as window frames, scotias, ceiling roses, cornices, skirting boards, wainscoting panelling and cupboards.

You can also stain your front door with a Resene wood stain. Unless you are restaining the same colour, you will need to remove all existing coatings to allow the new stain to penetrate.

Never use a standard acrylic paint on your door. Standard acrylic paints don’t have good block resistance so will stick to each other on contact.  

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