Painting Our Garage Door

I’m not gonna lie, I thought I would have been able to reveal our backyard by now. But progress has been so slow-moving. In early July, we were waiting on pieces to install the railings on our deck. Well, the pieces finally arrived, but now the crew is busy working on another project and we’re kinda on the backburner until that project is complete.

It’s been sucky looking out the window and seeing a project that is alllllmost done. Originally, we were planning to tackle a few DIY projects once the crew was completely done with their work. But after so many weeks passed, we realized that we might as well take advantage of the downtime and get a few DIY projects done.Painting our metal door

That first project? Paint the metal door that leads to the garage. Now that the backyard is looking so much better, our rusty door was sticking out like a sore thumb! I’ve painted doors before (you can see 5 tips to paint a front door here and painting my own front door here), but I’ve never painted a metal door before. So this was a new project for me!

The Metal Door Before

Rust on the bottom of this metal door

As you can see, the entire bottom of the door was starting to rust. Not good at all. It just looked so dirty and worn.Our garage door locks

While we did upgrade to keyless locks on our garage door when we moved in (more about that here!), the rest of the door was very shabby. Our rusty metal door

And whoever painted it before me didn’t do a great job. They painted right over the hinges and got lots of white paint on the weatherproofing strip. Ugh.  Painting the white trim around our garage door

Here’s a shot of the wood trim surrounding the metal door. It, too, had seen better days. I figured as long as I was tackling the door, I might as well touch-up the trim as well.

Painting a Metal Door – SuppliesChoose the correct supplies for your project

  • Metal paint and primer 
  • Smooth roller (1/4 inch nap)
  • Paint brush
  • Paint tray
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth
  • Sander (medium and fine grit paper)
  • Rags
  • Degreaser
  • Door wedge
  • Rags

Tips to Paint a Metal DoorPainting our garage door

First, you want to make sure that you choose a day with good weather conditions. We’ve had a lot of rain in July, so it was tough to find a day to sneak this project in. Luckily, I found a dry day to tackle this DIY project. It really only took me a few hours to get this project done, from start to finish, so I bet you could squeeze it in over nap time if needed!

Find the Right PaintChoosing the right paint for a metal door

The most important part of this project is to use the correct paint. If you just opt for a regular exterior paint, it might not bond well with the metal and last. I had no clue what paint to use for this, so I walked down to my local Benjamin Moore and talked to one of the experts there. Yes, I have one within walking distance and it has been a lifesaver! I took some pictures of the door ahead of time, especially those rust spots, and we reviewed my options for paint. This is in no way sponsored by Benjamin Moore, but I do find that their workers always have a good understanding of what paint is best for your project. When in doubt, I defer to them.

The helpful sales person at Benjamin Moore said to go with their Ultra Spec in a low lustre finish, which is kinda like a “satin” in traditional terms. This is a paint and primer in one and it provides rust inhibition and control. It sounded perfect for my project and I only needed a quart for my door.

Loving “Blue Note”Our 2 year home anniversary

As for the color, I decided to match the metal garage door to our front door. Out here, I chose the color “Blue Note” by Benjamin Moore, and it’s such a good one. The perfect navy blue! I’m all about repeating colors and elements throughout your home to keep things looking cohesive, so using this color was a no-brainer for me!

It’s All About the PrepUse a sanding block

Just like any paint project, it’s all about the prep. For this, I started with a pretty intense sanding of the door. I used my mouse sander and went with a 90 grit paper followed by a 150 grit. This took off a lot of the rust (wear a mask!) and smoothed out uneven surfaces.  Krud kutter kitchen degreaser

I then used Krud Kutter, but you can use any kind of degreaser, to get the door really clean before painting. One more wipe down of the door and I was ready to paint. I then took some painter’s tape and taped off the door knob and lock. You can also remove them if that’s easier for you.

Don’t Forget a Door WedgeUse a door stop

You can absolutely take the door off the hinges and set it up on a work table or horses to tackle this project. Being seven months pregnant, I didn’t want to do any heavy lifting, so I kept the door as is. To prevent the door from wiggling all around when you’re working on it, invest in a cheap door wedge! That way it stays firmly in place while you paint away.

Use a Brush on The Boxes

Use a brush on the boxes when you paint a metal door

Similar to how you would paint a room, I started with the edging first. I used a paint brush and got into the nooks and crannies of the door panels. I always recommend multiple light coats instead of one heavy coat. Trust me, the end result will be much better that way!

Smooth Roller for Flat SurfacesUsing a smooth roller on my door

On the flat surfaces, I opted for a 1/4 inch smooth roller. Again, use light coats for this and try your best not to go over the same area again and again. (You can find more common painting mistakes in this post.)

2-3 Coats Is Best

After the first coat of paint

Here’s the door after the first coat of paint. Clearly, I didn’t achieve full coverage, so I knew I would need at least one more coat. I let it dry for about an hour or two, while I painted the trim, and then gave it another coat. I ended up painting only two coats on my door, but I probably would have squeezed in a third if I had more time.

Paint the Correct EdgePaint the edges of your metal door the correct color

Now, here’s something that people often mess up. Be sure to paint the edges correctly. If you’re painting the front of the door, as I am here, you want to also paint the inside part of the door by the hinges the same color. If I was painting the back of the door, I would paint the opposite edge to match that color. That way when the door is open, the color matches!

Touch Up the TrimUsing a low lustre exterior white paint

As for the white trim, I actually had some leftover paint from this exterior project from last summer. I ended up using this white paint to paint over the shabby-looking trim. I followed the same steps…sanding, clean, and then brushing on the paint.

I was amazed by how much better the trim looked with a fresh coat of paint!

Our New Blue DoorPainting our metal door a pretty navy blue

A look at our new garage doorHere’s a look at our new door. I smile every time I poke my head outside and see it. I will say the one thing that keeps messing with our heads is that we think the garage door is open! We are so used to having a white door, so when we look outside, we automatically assume the darker color means it’s wide open. Ha! It’s gonna take a little getting used to it.Rory posing in front of our metal door to the garage

Rory was with me as I was taking these “after” pics and she kept zooming in front of the camera pushing her baby doll, which is her new favorite thing to do! I snapped a few pics of her as she flew on by! Painting the white trim

The trim looks 100x better. It’s wild what a nice fresh coat of white paint will do!Using the color "Blue Note" by Benjamin Moore on our door

And the blue color is perfection. It adds so much color and life to the garage that was all white and beige siding. I highly recommend this “Blue Note” for a front door. The best navy color!

Garage Door – Before & After

Rust on the bottom of this metal door
The bottom of the door is so much better, not more rust on this metal door

I am one happy girl being able to cross this project off of my backyard to-do list! I’ve been itching to get my hands on something back here and I think it was a good idea to stop waiting for the pros to be done and just go for it!

What’s Next?Rory in front of our new blue door

Next week, I’ll show you our new string lights that we added back here. It was a fun DIY project and now it’s so romantic in our backyard…


how to paint a metal door

Catch Up On Our Backyard Renovation

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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