no. 1 mistake in painting a door

While I was painting the new guest room, I knew I was going to have to paint the doors or everything would look half done. I am soooooo tired of “half done” so I was willing to put in the effort to have one room completed. The closet door had been quickly painted previously, but needed redone. Thankfully my daughter had painted the inside of the closet a nice white because it was Pepto-Bismol pink. Ick! Also, the door into the room had only been primed.

My daughter had moved in before I could finish it the first time I painted the room. Actually, I never finished any of the upstairs doors before we had to move people in house, because of the same old lament in North Dakota “Winter is coming, winter is coming!” Surely the writer of Game of Thrones spent time here.


I only have one picture of the room from when we bought the house and it’s of the closet. I must have been so shocked with the pink closet; I totally forgot to get any other pictures.


Removing doors (no. 1 mistake is not taking the door off)


Pause. Most people are intimidated by this task and instead cut corners and are then dismayed at the results.  It is more difficult to do detailed prep work then, apply paint without drips, to a vertical surface and have good results.  In years past, I ignored this advice from Hubby, much to my regret.  Just take off the door. It is not that difficult!

I removed the doors by myself. To do this, I used a rolled up towel under the door at the door knob side. This kept the door steady while I removed the hinge pins.

easy to remove a door by yourself if you use a towel and other tips
easy to remove a door by yourself if you use a towel

Placing a putty knife in the crevice right below the head of the top hinge pin, I ” lightly” tapped the bottom of the putty knife with a hammer until the pin slipped out of the hinge. I use a small hammer and sometimes it can take a few good whacks. Hubby says if you apply a little oil to the pin you won’t have that problem next time.  I repeated this for the other one. On last hinge the door likes to wobble, but that’s really when you appreciate the towel holding the door steady.

it's easy to remove door pins on the hinges place putty knife in crevice tap bottom of knife to lift pin
place putty knife in crevice tap bottom of knife to lift pin

I then balanced the door on the towel and just slid it across the floor and laid it on the covered bed. The bed was low enough that I was able to use my handy-dandy mechanics’ seat on wheels to sit on while working on the door. While working, I had the door hang over the bed so I could do the edges easily.

easy to work on door while it's overhanging on the bed and other tips to door painting
easy to work on door while it’s overhanging on the bed

Repairing doors

Old doors and trim always have lots of dings and dents. I used my palm sander with 80 or 100 grit paper and sanded both sides of the doors smooth. You don’t have to go all the way through the paint and I didn’t use finer sand paper because that would happen later in the process.

Then I filled dents with drywall mud using a taping knife for the larger areas and a putty knife for the tighter areas. It bonds to the old paint great.  When it was dry, I sanded them with a fine sanding sponge. Then I painted primer over that, to seal in the drywall mud and create a smooth surface followed by light sanding. If the dents were big I would have used something else instead of drywall mud like Bondo or wood filler. Finally I painted two coats of semi-gloss latex, in Country White by Glidden, sanding between coats.

The final time I sanded, with an extra fine sanding sponge to remove small imperfection left by the brush. When sanding at the end its more like wiping down with a cloth, you use very little pressure.

Painting hardware and doorknobs





You really need to clean hardware before painting so the paint won’t flake off because of oil from people’s hands. You can use TSP or degreaser. I removed the old paint by putting them in an old crockpot with water and TSP to heat up the metal and loosen the paint. After it cooled a little, I scrubbed the hardware with brushes and green scratchy pads and a little more TSP. The hardware and doorknobs were all spray painted  “ Rubbed Oil Bronze” by Rustoleum.



I try to take stuff out side to spray paint, so all the hardware had to be removed including the hinge on the door jam. (Yes, I have spray painted inside the house but that’s another story post for another time.) I stuck all the screws in the top of a cardboard box so I could paint the heads. I HATE IT, when the screws don’t match the finish on hardware. The tops of the screw got a shot of paint so they could blend together with the hinges and the door knob plates.


Take the door off

Remove hardware and store safely, I like small  Ziplock bags (or odd plastic containers)

Repair dents and dings


Paint with primer

Lightly sand

Paint 2 coats of latex semi-gloss paint with light sanding in between coats

Clean and prep hardware for painting

Spray paint hardware and door knobs



Having the doors in the room done really helps it look finished.  I love the dark oil rubbed color against the creamy white because it really pops, so you notice that lovely old hardware and door knobs. On the second floor, I’m painting all of the doors and trim this creamy white to help with the feel of the “flow”. Downstairs on the main floor I’m using a bright white because of the trees; we get more sunlight upstairs so the creamy white looks brighter then it would downstairs where there is less sunlight.  By the time you climb the stairs I don’t think you notice the difference in the whites.

how to get a fresh looking door and rub oil bronze door hinges and door knobs
closet door painted in Country White by Glidden and rub oil bronze door door knobs and hinges
closet door painted in Country White by Glidden and rub oil bronze door door knobs and hinges
before and after closet door

Okay that’s the not so fun stuff out of the way…. moving on to color theory and then how you can use your inspiration piece to decorate your room in the next few weeks so….. stay  tuned.

HELP me, save the doors of the world and share this post and comment about your best painting door tips.


6 thoughts on “no. 1 mistake in painting a door



  2. Thanks lorina! I’m going to be painting the front door of my rental house! My landlord doesn’t mind!

    Sent from my iPhone



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