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How to Paint Metal Doors

By Jim Dugan
Professional Contractor & DIY Expert

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Most amateur do-it-yourself enthusiasts do not know how to paint metal doors, and their best efforts tend to generate failing finishes. Professionals know that paint will not stick to a bare metal door. If you try to paint a metal door without properly treating the metallic surface, the finish will peel. Learn the proper way to condition metal interior and exterior entry doors for better adhesion, or finish failure will occur.

Priming a Metal Door

Before you begin painting a metal door, condition it with a special type of primer. Ordinary bonding primers wonít stick to metal doors, frames or jambs. For a strong finish that will last, apply a metal-etching primer. This acidic primer will etch aluminum, hollow metal and stainless steel doors and improve their adhesive qualities. It can also make metal garage doors and metal door handles and knobs paintable.

Painting a Metal Door

Once the metal is properly primed, you may paint the door. Unfortunately, because metallic doors are slick, they tend to reveal brush strokes and roller marks. Combat this problem by painting metal doors, using a soft-bristled polyester brush. These tools tend to produce smoother, more attractive finishes.

Metal Door Paint

As long as the door is primed, you may apply virtually any type of paint; however, some metal door paint is better suited for certain types of doors. Paint interior metal doors with a latex paint. Paint exterior metal doors with an acrylic latex paint. If the metal doors are subject to a large amount of duress, apply an enamel.


A polyester paintbrush is well-suited for applying water-based paint to doors. It is not appropriate for applying oil-based enamel. Use a natural-bristled brush to paint metal doors with an oil-based enamel. Donít confuse the two, or you will damage the bristles.