How to Paint Both Sides of a Door on Sawhorses

Putting a door horizontally on sawhorses while painting is a great way to prevent drips and runs, but it makes it hard to paint both sides at the same time. Here’s a simple solution to solve the problem:

  1. Insert two 3” drywall screws in the edge of one end of the door, leaving about half (1½”) of the screw protruding from the door.
  2. Insert one 3” drywall screw in the center of the edge on the other end of the door, also leaving about half the screw protruding.
  3. Position the door on the sawhorses, so the door is resting on the screws at each end.
  4. Paint one side of the door, then pick up the end of the door with the two screws, and carefully rotate it to the other side, using the screw at the other end as a pivot point.
  5. Paint the other side of the door, and allow the paint to dry thoroughly before removing from the sawhorses.

Watch this video to find out more.


Painting doors is much easier to do if the doors are off its hinges. What I like to do is set the door horizontally on a couple of sawhorses. That allows you to apply the paint, and the paint won’t run and drip off the surface.

Once you get one side painted, what do you do? You can’t just flip it over and rest it on the sawhorses. So here’s the trick. Take two three inch drywall screws, and drive them through the end of the door, leaving about an inch to an inch and a half of screw sticking out.

Then come down to the other end of the door, and just drive one screw right in the center. Again, leave about half of it sticking out. This is the pivot screw, and I’ll show you why they call it the pivot screw.

Pull the sawhorse out, and rest the screw head right on top of the sawhorse. Then you come down here, and use these two screws as handles. Pull out the sawhorse a little bit, and just rotate the door. See that, how easy that is. And you set it again, with screws right on top of the sawhorse.

Now, you have the freshly painted surface underneath, and this clean surface ready to paint right now.


  1. Perfect timing – as I am preparing to stain a door.
    excellent idea – of how to paint a door quickly, drip free, and save time.

  2. You’re very welcome, Fitz. We’ve produced more than 250 Simple Solutions over the years, and the painting tips and tricks we’ve shown are by far the most popular. Thanks for writing and good luck!–Joe T.

  3. what about solid coe doors that are extremely heavy? Will the weight of the door be supported by he screws? and then of course flipping the door is not so simple with the weight factor. what do you recommend in this case?

  4. I meant solid CORE doors.. LOL. They are so heavy and it is difficult to even lift them on my own. Even the men on the construction site had a hard time lifting them for long!

  5. Dear Cheryl, Good question. This tip will work for solid-core doors, but only for doors that are 30 inches wide or narrower. For wider doors, I’d recommend using 1/4-inch-diameter x 3-inch-long lag screws. Drill pilot holes and use a ratchet wrench to drive in the screws; leave about 1 1/2 inches of the screws protruding. And, for extremely heavy doors, use two lag screws at each end–eliminating the middle pivot screw–and have two people, one at each end, flip the door. Thanks for writing, Cheryl, and good luck!–Joe T.

  6. I’ve scoured the Internet and found about 15 different ways to set up doors for painting, and this method appears to be the best combination of simplicity and brilliance that I could find. Thanks!

  7. My door really needs a paint job and so I appreciate you explaining these 5 steps about how to do it using a sawhorse. I think that it is a genius idea to use drywall screws so that you can rotate the door and not ruin the paint job. However, I would rather not leave holes in the door and so what can I use to properly fill them in?

  8. Thank you so much.
    I am getting ready to shellac 5 boards for a pantry cabinet and this will come in very handy!
    I salute you!

  9. Don’t know if my door is wood on the ends it is metal and I only want to paint the outside. Too much of a hassle to take it off. How do you keep the paint brush marks from showing when you go east to west between the panels? Should I use semi gloss or flat paint? Should I use a sponge or a felt roller or a brush?

  10. Can you send any YouTube videos on how to paint heavy solid core interior doors please… I have 20 to do.. Thanks and any info on how to achieve this would be great..

  11. Thanks, Chris, I’m not so sure about being a genius–but who am I to argue? In any case, I’m glad you liked my door-painting tip. And stay tuned, we have a lot more Simple Solutions coming your way!

  12. Paint, or sheetrock mud, or wood filler or caulk, will easily fill screw holes. It might require heavier/thicker screws for solid or steel doors. Steel door flipping might require a metal drill bit pilot hole, slightly smaller than the screw width.

  13. Paint, or sheetrock mud, or wood filler or caulk, will easily fill screw holes. It might require heavier/thicker screws for solid or steel doors. Steel door flipping might require a metal drill bit pilot hole, slightly smaller than the screw width.


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