Summer can be the perfect time to tackle exterior painting projects (or at least start planning them for when the scorching heat gives way to more moderate temperatures later in the season). One that will give you the most bang for your buck is a front door refresh. A new statement colour will not only perk up your home’s exterior, improving its curb appeal, but extend a gracious welcome and leave a lasting first impression. It’s also a great way to express your personal style.
The first thing you need to do is pick the right hue. Consider the surrounding landscape, home’s exterior (brick, stucco, siding) as well as its interior since the door will open into this space. Classic colours like black, brown, grey and even deep reds and navy blues will generally stand the test of time. But before you commit to a single shade, paint a fair-sized swatch on poster board and tape it to the door to see how the colour looks at different times during the day.
Oil Versus Latex
When choosing an exterior paint, make sure it’s right for the door’s material (wood, metal). Oil-based and latex are both available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of what you use, be sure to remember which you chose for inevitable future touch-ups. While you can use latex over oil-based paint, it won’t properly adhere if you don’t take the necessary steps to prepare the surface, so switching back and forth is not advisable.
Ideally, pick a warm, dry, wind-free day to tackle this painting project. Today’s premium exterior paint products allow for painting in as low as 4°C, so you don’t need to hold off if the temperature drops overnight (as long as it’s not below 4°C). However, it’s recommended to read the label information beforehand as the specific temperature threshold may vary by type of paint and brand.
Start early before the sun gets too strong (the temperature should not exceed 32°C). Direct sunlight can cause paint to dry too quickly, resulting in lap marks or even blistering. High humidity (greater than 50%) can affect drying and re-coat times, too, as well as the curing process. On average, exterior latex paint requires at least four hours of dry-time between coats. High winds can also cause paint to dry too quickly, resulting in poor adhesion and possibly an uneven finish.
It’s All About Prep
Before painting, remove your door and the hardware from its surface to protect it from drips. Thoroughly clean the door so dirt does not get trapped in the paint. Sand down the surface with the right grit sandpaper to ensure proper paint adhesion. Use a microfibre cloth and dry-wipe the surface to remove any dust.
Don’t forget to prime the door to create the ideal base surface for the new paint. My personal favourite is Fresh Start by Benjamin Moore. Once dry, you’ll need to apply two coats of your chosen colour, letting the paint to dry for 24 hours between coats. After the final coat is applied, it’s ideal to wait 48 hours to re-install the hardware and put the door back up.
If you don’t have a glass or storm door that stands between your front door and the elements, then removing the door to paint is not the best option as there’s no way to effectively prevent bugs, debris and potential strangers from entering your home. (Taping a tarp over the opening will only provide so much protection.) Instead, you’ll need to leave the door hanging on its hinges to paint. As part of your prep work, cover the hardware, including knobs, passage and lock sets should you choose not to remove these as well, with a good quality painter’s tape to preserve the finish.