How Not to Paint Your Front Door

As I mentioned before, our house was staged when the previous owner put it on the market. They covered up a lot of really old, ugly characteristics with a thick coat of paint, and it’s been a long process trying to convert it to our own color palette.

One of the painting projects that we were most excited about was the front door. It’s the entrance to your house, the first thing people see. It sets the tone for your home. So, of course, we decided to paint it the brightest shade of yellow we could find. Here, you’ll get to see our step by step disaster and recovery in our yellow endeavor.

This is the best before photo that I have of our front door (probably because we hated it so much):

House Sold

Dark. Charcoal. Boring. You wouldn’t even notice it if you weren’t looking for it. The overhang on our house makes our door area pretty dim as it is, and the dark door made our house look like a brooding storm cloud.

After some research and color shopping, we ended up with a very expensive brush and a quart of Center Stage yellow by Behr. Russ took the door off the hinges, sanded it down for what seemed like hours, and started with the first coat.


Tip #1: I don’t care what color your door was before, but especially if it was charcoal grey, put a coat of white primer down before you start with your new color.

Yellow usually takes a few coats, but this was highlighter yellow. Neon and transparent. Over the course of a few days, Russ put on 4 coats of Center Stage and it still looked grey underneath. We couldn’t get rid of brush stroke lines and were really sorry for our neighbors that had to look at it all the time.

After stewing in our irritation for a week, we realized that we had one last chance to perfect our front door before the big housewarming party. So, off the hinges it came and we got back to sanding.


Tip #2: Use an electric sander and hand sanding. The corners and curves are important details and need to be sanded down just like the flat panels. Russ did the detail work this time.

Tip #3: Wear sunglasses when you are staring at highlighter yellow in direct sunlight. Beware the scowl lines.


Interestingly enough, after we sanded the highlighter hue off, Center Stage didn’t look terrible, but we were over it. We had moved on to a warmer, nicer yellow – Saffron Thread by Behr.

We paid attention to our original lessons learned and put a coat of primer over the top of the light yellow just to be safe.


Tip #4: Thoroughly clean the sanding dust off the door before you start painting again. That stuff will get stuck in every corner and crevice and is not forgiving when your wet paintbrush dives into it.

Tip #5: Paint from the inside out. Start with the corners and edges of inner panels and work out from there. Otherwise you risk spending a lot of time painting over fingerprints where you reached over wet paint to get to the inside.

After it dried, we got to work on the new and improved yellow.

Tip #6: Paint with the grain of the wood. Doors are typically put together with multiple pieces and the grain changes direction at each intersection. Pay attention and go with the flow of the wood.


After just one coat, we high fived over our new door. You may not be able to tell much difference between the yellows in the photos, but Saffron Thread makes me smile every time I see our front door and I’m so proud to have the cheeriest front door on our street. Huge upgrade from the sad grey.

I hope that our difficult lessons learned can help you save a lot of time and frustration over a front door project and don’t be afraid to go bold! The burst of color will make your days (and your neighborhood) brighter.


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