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How to paint interior doors

A fresh coat of paint is an easy way to breathe new life into old, tired doors. It’s also a great way to personalise new doors to match your decor and reflect your personal style. 

With the right tools, preparation and techniques, you can paint your interior doors without professional help. 

In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about painting doors.


Check you’ve got everything you need before you get started. 

Paint Paint tray
High-quality paintbrush Roller
Marking tape or frog tape Sheet (to protect flooring)
Cloth (for paint drips)  


Additional materials needed for painting an old pre-painted door:

Bucket Sponge/scourer
Dust mask Paint scraper
Dust mask Putty knife
Electric sander Wood filler


What paint to use on internal doors?

When choosing a type of paint, you should consider both the finish you’d like to achieve (matte, satin or gloss) and durability. Interior doors in frequent use experience their fair share of wear and tear, especially in busy homes with children, therefore choosing durable paint will help to protect and preserve your doors.  

As a general rule, semi-gloss or gloss paints make cleaning doors far easier and hold up well when being cleaned frequently. Matte paint tends to hold dirt and can be more difficult to clean, plus there’s a risk the finish may rub off during cleaning – something to think about if you would rather not need to worry about touch-ups. 

Which interior door paint colour is best for you?

Colour plays more of an influential role in our lives than we might realise. It can affect our minds and overall mood, so choosing the right colour for your internal doors is important in creating the feeling you’d like to achieve in your home. 

Painting internal doors to match the colour of your walls can create a sweeping canvas to keep the focus on your furniture or wall art. You might also consider the existing scheme of your room and choose a door shade that complements it – either a couple of shades lighter or darker. Go bold with a contrasting stand-out colour; create edgy drama with dark hues; or choose a more muted shade of the same colour palette for a considered finish. Of course, classic door colours such as neutral browns, whites and greys are still popular and will stand the test of time, too. 

Discover 2023 door trends and interior doors colour inspiration.

Which doors are ready to paint?

As tempting as it might be to jump right in with a pot of paint and brush, not all doors are ready for a fresh coat of paint. 

While some new doors come fully primed – meaning you can simply paint or stain the door while it’s hung on its hinges – other types may need a bit more work. 

The process of getting a door ready to paint can vary for different doors beyond the steps mentioned below, but this should give you a good idea of how to get started.  

● Moulded primed, moulded undercoated, engineered oak and paint-grade doors require decoration to the two faces, four edges and cutouts for locks handles and hinge recesses using suitable paint within three days of fitting. If door edges need trimming, then you’ll need to prime the edges before finishing. 

● Moulded fully finished doors require no decoration to the two faces, however, the four edges of the door and cutouts for locks, handles and hinge recesses require decoration using suitable paint.

● Real wood veneer or foil veneer doors are fully finished, only door edges and cutouts for locks, handles, and hinge recesses require finishing using a varnish, stain or lacquer. 

If you are re-painting an existing coloured door, you’ll need to remove it from the hinges and strip the old paint. This can be done by sanding, using a paint stripper, or getting the doors professionally dipped and stripped. Don’t forget to check the door for any signs of damage, such as cracks or holes, and make any necessary repairs and prime the door before you start painting.

Want to learn how to hang a door? Discover everything you need to know in this article.

Painting tools

The right tools can make all the difference when it comes to painting doors. You'll need a paintbrush, a roller, and a paint tray. A high-quality brush will produce a smoother, more even coat of paint, while a roller will help you cover large areas quickly. 

Step-by-step: How to paint an interior door

1. Protect your flooring – If your door is in place, use sheets or cardboard to catch any paint drips from reaching your carpet or floor. Paper is a good alternative if there’s a small gap between the door and the floor.

2. Prepping your door – Remove any hardware from the door and tape off any areas you don't want to paint. Clean the door thoroughly with mild detergent and water (don’t forget the top, which tends to collect dust), then let it dry completely.

3. Use a paintbrush to apply a thin, even coat of paint to the door in the direction of the wood grain. 

● Paint the long edges first, and wipe any excess paint off the face of the door to avoid a ridge

● Wedge the door open and in place and continue to paint the front and back of the door, working from the top down

● If you have a panelled door, paint the panels first, followed by the middle vertical section, then the horizontal strips, and finally, the long sides nearest the hinges and handle

Painting patterns or styles may vary across different doors and painting preferences so always check the instructions on your door and paint for the best result. 

4. Once the first coat has dried, apply a second coat

5. Let the second coat dry completely, then remove the tape and reattach the hardware.

Top tips for the perfect finish

● Start with a clean, smooth surface.

● Choose a high-quality paint specifically designed for interior doors.

● Use a paintbrush and roller for the best results.

● Apply two thin coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

● Let the paint dry completely before reattaching any hardware.

By following these steps and tips, you can help to get your interior doors looking their best. And, if you don’t feel confident in painting your own doors, you can always hire a professional to do it for you. 

Whether you're updating a single door or a whole room, a fresh coat of paint can make a big impact. Happy painting!