If your door’s paint job looks faded or chipped, it’s time for a fresh coat of paint. Although not everyone has access to a paint sprayer, you don’t need one to get the job done right.

Painting quickly and efficiently, achieving an ultra-smooth finish with a paint roller, is possible. Keep reading for my tips to make painting doors easy — without waiting for one side to dry before painting the other.

Get the Right Supplies

Before starting this project, check that you have the right painting supplies. To paint doors smoothly and efficiently using a paint roller, this is what you’ll need to get:

  • High-quality acrylic latex paint 
  • 4-inch foam paint roller
  • Roller frame
  • Angled paintbrush for cutting in
  • Paint tray
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth
Today’s Homeowner Tips

Use high-quality acrylic latex paint, as this provides good coverage and a smooth, durable finish on doors. The 4-inch foam roller is perfect for fitting in the recesses of paneled doors, while an angled brush allows you to carefully cut in around hinges and hardware.

Prep the Door

Proper prep is crucial for a smooth painted finish. Make sure the door surface is clean and dry before painting. Lightly sand to scuff up the existing paint surface and wipe with a tack cloth to remove dust.

Use painter’s tape to mask off hinges, hardware, and any other areas you don’t want to get paint on. Lay down a drop cloth below the door to catch drips.

If there are any holes, cracks, or imperfections in the door, fill them with wood filler and allow them to fully dry before sanding smooth. This prep ensures the new paint adheres properly.

The Best Way To Paint Doors

I suggest taking the following steps when painting doors quickly for the best results: 

  1. Apply the first coat of paint to the entire door using the 4-inch foam roller. Make sure to get into any recesses and panel indentations.
  2. While the first coat is still wet, immediately use the angled brush to cut in around all edges, hinges, and hardware. 
  3. Flip the door over onto sawhorses or blocks. The wet painted surface will be face down. 
  4. Immediately apply the first coat of paint to the back side of the door using the roller.
  5. Once again, cut in along all edges and hardware with the angled brush before the paint dries.
  6. Allow both sides of the door to fully dry. 
  7. Lightly sand any brush marks or imperfections and wipe clean with a tack cloth.
  8. Apply the second and final coat of paint to both sides of the door using the same process.

The benefit of this technique is that you can paint both sides of the door in one session without waiting for one side to dry before flipping it over. It’s efficient and delivers an ultra-smooth, factory-like finish.

How To Avoid Common Paint Mistakes

When painting doors, don’t make the following mistakes:

  • Applying paint too thickly. Multiple thin coats are always better than one thick coat.
  • Forgetting to sand between coats. Lightly sanding helps the next coat adhere better. 
  • Painting in direct sunlight. Paint when shaded to prevent fast drying, which can cause poor adhesion. 
  • Not cleaning the surface adequately. Dust inhibits paint adhesion.
  • Not removing hardware. Tape off or remove hardware for best results.
  • Choosing the wrong roller. A 4-inch foam roller fits door recesses perfectly.

So, Is Painting Doors Fast and Getting a Smooth Finish Possible?

Yes, you achieve a smooth, professional sprayed finish on doors when painting with a roller and brush. The trick is immediately cutting in while the paint is wet on both sides so you can complete the job in one session without waiting for drying time between coats.

Prepping properly, using high-quality materials, applying thin coats, and sanding between coats are the keys to a smooth door paint job. With some care, effort, and the right methods, DIYers can paint doors quickly and beautifully. 

Want an expert to handle your door painting project? Use the form below to connect with local painting pros:

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FAQs About Painting Doors

What type of paint should I use on interior doors?

An interior acrylic latex paint is best for painting interior doors. Look for premium-quality paint that says it has good coverage and durability. I recommend avoiding flat finishes by choosing satin, eggshell, or semi-gloss for an attractive look.

How many coats of paint do doors need?

In my experience, most doors look best with two coats of paint. Applying multiple thin coats creates a more durable finish than one thick coat. Make sure to lightly sand between coats for better adhesion.

Should you spray or roll paint on doors?

Both spraying or rolling paint on doors are good options. While spraying can provide a smooth finish, following a paint-rolling technique can achieve similar results. Use a high-quality 4-inch foam roller and quality paint, and make sure to cut in the edges immediately before drying.

How do you paint paneled doors evenly?

Use a small foam roller and thoroughly apply paint to the recessed panels. Right after, cut in the panels with an angled brush while the paint is still wet. Follow with a second coat.

What sheen is best for painting doors?

A satin, eggshell, or semi-gloss sheen is ideal for doors. These finishes are durable while still providing a subtle sheen. I recommend avoiding higher gloss paints, as these can show imperfections.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Amy DeYoung

Amy DeYoung


Amy DeYoung has a passion for educating and motivating homeowners to improve their lives through home improvement projects and preventative measures. She is a content writer and editor specializing in pest control, moving, window, and lawn/gardening content for Today’s Homeowner. Amy utilizes her own experience within the pest control and real estate industry to educate readers. She studied business, communications, and writing at Arizona State University.

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Lori Zaino

Lori Zaino is a freelance writer and editor based in Madrid, Spain. With nearly two decades of editorial experience, she’s written and edited for publications like Forbes, CNN, Insider, NBC, Newsweek, The Points Guy, The Infatuation, and many others. Having just completed her first home renovation, she’s more interested in home improvements than ever, dedicated to bringing you fresh and accurate content to help you update your living spaces.

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