Garages aren’t just about utility; they play a significant role in your home’s overall appearance, too. Your garage door color and condition can be an attribute or deterrent when it comes to curb appeal. 

If you’re looking to elevate your home’s appearance, painting is one of the easiest methods. In this article, you will find a step-by-step guide for painting your garage door, including helpful tips to make the process seamless. Happy Painting!

Step #1: Choose the Right Garage Door Paint

Your garage door material will determine what type of paint you need to purchase. Depending on the material, the paint selected will combat different issues, such as rusting on metal garages. 

Here are a few common garage door materials and the paint they require:

  • For metal garage doors, select an acrylic latex exterior house paint
  • For vinyl garage doors, select a latex-based primer and paint that contains a bonding agent
  • For steel and wood garage doors, select latex or oil-based paint.
  • For aluminum garage doors, select acrylic paint

Regardless of the material, be sure to purchase one specifically made for outdoor/exteriors. If you select indoor paint, your paint job won’t be durable against harsh elements, such as direct sunlight or rainstorms.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

NEVER buy lead-based paints. Lead-based paints cause significant harm to the human body for both painters and those interacting with the affected area long after it has dried. Given lead-based paint’s highly toxic properties, there is never a good reason to choose it over safer options.

Step #2: Choose The Right Time to Paint Your Garage Door

While the time of year for interior paint jobs doesn’t typically matter, it is essential for outdoor paint jobs. Exterior painting is best suited for reasonably neutral weather days.

Season-wise, aim for spring or fall when there are no extremes in temperature, whether high or low. Any extremes can significantly impact the outcome of your paint job. You may find that you have to apply multiple coats, and the final product is still lacking.

For example, if you paint when it is too hot, you run the risk of your paint drying too quickly.

If you paint when it is too cold, your paint won’t stick well, and you might find excess peeling.

If you must paint in less-desirable conditions, for example, mid-winter, paint section by section so that each box is complete before moving on to the next. The goal here is to begin the adjacent square before the last dries so that each section can roll into the next without looking blotchy or patchy.

If you must paint in the summer, wait until the coolest time of day and a time of day when shade falls on the garage. You might also consider setting up a tent that shields the garage from direct sunlight to slow the drying process.

Step #3: Clean Your Garage Door Before Painting

As exciting as it is to start painting as soon as you find the perfect color, you can’t skip this critical step – cleaning! It is vital to clean the garage door before applying any paint. If not, your run the risk of debris on the surface causing paint not to stick or noticeable impurities. After all that work, you don’t want a clump of dirt to be the first thing visitors notice!

Power washing is the most straightforward and effective process to clean the garage door. Begin at the top and work your way down so the dirt can flow away successively. The goal here is to remove dirt, so be careful not to get too close, or else you may find that you chip away some of the former paint. Chipping away old paint isn’t a significant problem, but it will result in one extra step as you will need to scrape off the excess peeling paint to create a smooth surface for painting.

This is perhaps the most accessible mode of washing, however not the easiest.

Steps for handwashing:

  1. Rinse the door
  2. Use a gentle soap to scrub the door
  3. Use a silicone-based lubricant for weather-stripping
  4. Then rinse once more
  5.  If there are patches of dirt that you can’t remove, try using a mild detergent

Step #4: Ensure Safety

Safety first! 

Before picking up a paintbrush – you need to ensure the door is not going to budge or cause unnecessary surprises while painting that could result in injury. Be sure the garage is in the closed/down position, then detach it from the opener. The door MUST be closed for this step! Otherwise, you run the risk of it falling and causing severe injury or damage.

Step #5: Tape

Once the door has dried after cleaning, it’s time to section off and protect areas not being painted. You will want to take the painter’s tape and cover anything that you should not paint.  These areas can include: where the garage meets the home foundation (brick, siding, cement, etc.), along with the windows.

This step requires a clean surface for the tape to stick to, so be sure not to skip cleaning before taping. In addition to painting, you will want to line the ground with a protectant, such as a tarp, cloth, or plastic sheet to protect from any paint drippings or splatters.

Step #6: Prepare and Prime Garage Door for Painting

Priming is an essential step before painting as primer creates a flat surface allowing for better durability and an even canvas to paint. Priming is an easy step that makes all of the difference! Choose your painting method and apply a thin, even layer of the primer to the surface of the garage door.

The primer can take 12 hours or more to dry, depending on weather conditions. If it is a thin layer as directed, you can expect it to be around the 12-hour mark.

You must wait until the primer is completely dry before moving on to painting. If you do not, this step will not have the desired effect, and your paint may not be durable.

Step #7: Paint Your Garage Door

There are different methods for painting garage doors, such as brush, rolling, or airbrushing, but whatever you used to apply the primer should also be used for painting. If you choose two different methods, there will be discrepancies in the application of the paint. So, if you used a paintbrush to apply the primer, use a paintbrush to apply the paint.

The first paint application should focus on complex parts that are too difficult to reach with a once-over. These parts can include just around the window, the divets, and raised parts that trim the window and edges. After these portions are dry, it’s time for the next coat, the first full coat.

When painting, the number of layers necessary will depend on door condition, age, and material, but generally, only one coat is needed. Should you need to do multiple coats, always wait a minimum of 12 hours before painting another layer to allow the previous to dry completely.

When there is an even coat, and the garage has your desired finish, congratulations, you’re finished! Now it’s time to sit back and let the garage dry as not to ruin your hard work. The garage will need to stay in the closed or down position to ensure proper drying. 

The process, depending on weather conditions, could take anywhere from 12-24 hours. The paint should be dry to the touch when the paint has finished setting. To avoid any accidents, make sure to keep anything away from the door that could threaten the process, including cars, children, and pets.

Bonus: How to Paint Garage Door to Look Like Wood

It may seem complicated, but if you’re looking for a wood finish look, it’s not much additional work at all – with a couple of extra supplies, you can make it happen.

Steps #1-#6 remain the same, but rather than allowing the paint to dry completely, only let it dry slightly for roughly 30 minutes. Next, take a damp painter’s mitt and apply a wood grain finishing coat over the top with long strokes that emulate wood grains and textures.

It’s Not as Tough as It Seems

Regardless of your garage door material or the methods used to paint it, there are a few universal steps when it comes to properly paint your garage door. It’s crucial that you pick high-quality paint and are thorough from beginning to end. It’s easy to put in half the effort when the process becomes tedious, but in dedicating time to paint your garage properly, you will have results you love! Following our high-quality guide, we aim to help you make the process as seamless and beautiful as possible.  

FAQs About Painting a Garage Door

How do I paint garage door hardware?

Painting the hardware is a great way to elevate your garage door’s look further. The process is very similar to the actual door painting. Remove the hardware and clean it Then select a color. Be sure to compare this color to the garage door base coat and make sure it matches well.

Typically, bronze, silver, and steel colors work well on garage fixtures, so opt for those colors/finishes for guaranteed positive results. Paint the hardware Let the paint dry. Reattach the hardware to the garage door.

If painting the entire garage door, be sure to wait until the garage door paint is dry before reattaching hardware.

How do I keep garage door panels from sticking after painting?

Don’t let your garage door stick to surrounding areas or ground. Be sure to run a knife or something that can fit in between crevasses along the edges of the door so the paint does not dry, sealing the door to whatever is in contact.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield is an experienced writer specializing in home improvement topics. He has a passion for educating and empowering homeowners to make informed decisions about their properties. Matt's writing focuses on a range of topics, including windows, flooring, HVAC, and construction materials. With a background in construction and home renovation, Matt is well-versed in the latest trends and techniques in the industry. His articles offer practical advice and expert insights that help readers tackle their home improvement projects with confidence. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, Matt's writing is sure to provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

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