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How Do I Paint Wood Garage Doors?

There are several ways to paint your wood garage door. Using a paint sprayer probably takes the least amount of time when compared to a brush or paint roller. However, it is the preparation work that takes the most time if you want your paint job to be long-lasting.

Giving your garage door a new lease of life can be achieved by a fresh coat of paint, but don’t just grab any paint and start painting. Choosing the right type of paint can mean the difference between a good, durable finish, or one that you will be doing again next year. One thing to remember, is oil and water do not mix.

If you read all the information below, we hope we will show you how to paint your wood garage door that will end up being the envy of your friends and neighbors.

What’s the best way to paint wood garage doors?

The best way to paint your wood garage door is the method you feel most comfortable with. You can use an airless paint sprayer, a paint tray and roller, or use paint brushes. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. A paint sprayer will take the least amount of time, but it will use more paint. Using a tray and roller will cover the door in a short time, and choosing to use paint brushes will take the most time. Whichever method you decide on, preparing the door for painting is an important step you cannot afford to skip.

1. Cleaning the garage door.

The first step in painting a wood garage door is to clean the door thoroughly. This involves removing any flaking paint, filling in any holes with wood filler, and giving the whole door a good wash with a household cleaner. If you have one, a pressure washer can save a lot of time in removing any loose or flaking paint, but use one of the wide nozzles to avoid damaging the surface. If there are any signs of mildew, then use a dedicated cleaner to remove the mildew before washing the door.

2. Covering or Removing the Hardware.

If you have hardware on the door, like handles, decorative hinges, or numbers, then you have a choice to make. Do you cover them up or remove them before painting? To cover the hardware, select a good-quality painter’s tape, one that has a good edge seal to prevent any paint from bleeding onto the hardware. If this sounds a bit too much like hard work, then if you can, remove all the hardware. If the door has been painted before, but the hardware was not removed, then there may be ridges of paint visible when you take the hardware off, which will have to be sanded down.

3. The Prep Work.

The part that everyone hates is the preparation work, but it is the most important part of the project. If you don’t prepare the door before painting, then you will just be wasting time and money. Paint that is peeling or cracked should be removed, either by using a scraper or a wire brush. Any holes or gouges have to be filled in, and any mold or mildew must be taken care of. Once all that has been done, wash the door using a sponge, or use a stiff brush to get rid of any remaining paint flakes. Leave the door to dry completely before tackling the next step.

4. Sanding the surface.

Removing the old paint and washing the bare wood will have left the door with a rough surface so you will have to go over the door with sandpaper to get it ready for painting. You can use an electric hand sander with medium-grit sandpaper to do the majority of the door, but you may have to sand some of it by hand with a sanding sponge if the door has any decorative molding, raised or recessed panels. Once the door has been completely sanded, wipe the door with a damp lint-free cloth to remove any dust left behind after sanding.

5. Painting the door.

The first thing to do before you start, is tape off any areas you do not want to paint. Hardware, glass, trim and adjoining walls should be covered with tape and/or paper to prevent any paint overspill.

Now you’re ready to paint the wood door. Apply primer to the whole door, then when dry, start by “cutting in” around the trim, corners of panels, moldings, etc., and if you’ve left the hardware on, carefully paint around them. Once the “cutting in” is done, you can either use a paint roller or a paint sprayer to cover the remainder of the door in a relatively short time. Depending on the paint you use, you may need to give the door a second coat, but it shouldn’t take as long as the first coat to apply.

6. What’s the drying time?

There is no specific answer to this question. It depends on the weather, temperature, humidity, and wind. If it is too hot, then the paint will dry too fast before it adheres to the door. If you’re painting in the winter and the temperature is below 50 degrees then the paint will take too long to dry and will give a disappointing finish.

Under normal conditions, latex paint takes approximately one to three hours to be touch dry, and oil-based paint will be touch dry after six to eight hours. But, both types of paint need extra time to be dry enough before a second coat is applied. Latex paint needs three to five hours, and oil-based paint requires eight to ten hours before a second coat is applied. The paint manufacturer will always give guidelines as to drying times on the paint container.

What kind of paint should be used on a wood garage door?

Remember we mentioned that oil and water do not mix? This also applies to paint. Professional painters never break that rule. You can’t put latex or acrylic paint over oil-based paint, but you can apply an oil-based paint over latex paint. If you do not know whether the existing paint is oil-based or latex, the answer is to apply an oil-based primer first. This will allow you to use either oil-based or latex paint on your wood garage door. Whether you decide to use oil-based or latex paint, the type of paint should be a quality exterior paint. Either a semi-gloss or high gloss finish is best for a wood garage door. Not only do they stand up to humidity, but they make cleaning the door a simple task.

How do I remove old paint from my wood garage door?

A word of warning:
Many garages that were built prior to 1978 could contain lead-based paint. You would be well advised to contact your local environmental agency for removal and disposal.

To remove old paint from your garage door, begin by spraying the surface with water using a garden hose to wash away the dirt and grime that may have accumulated over the years. Anything that proves to be stubborn can be helped on its way by using a nylon scrubbing brush. Let the door dry completely before moving on.

Using a paint scraper, remove any loose, peeling, or chipped paint, following the grain of the wood. Leave any intact paint alone or you risk damaging the wood. With 30-grit sandpaper go over the whole door removing any paint that remains. Change to 60-grit sandpaper and repeat the process. Once the door is smooth, spray the door with a garden hose to remove any dust particles and let it dry naturally.

Top Tips on refinishing wood garage doors

Refinishing a wood garage door can be done in a few easy steps:

Remove all external hardware

Scrape off any loose or flaking paint

Sand the door with various grades of sandpaper until smooth

Any moldings on the door will have to be scraped or sanded with a sanding sponge

Wash the door with soapy water, and let dry for 24 hours

Apply paint or stain to the door

Apply a second or top coat, then re-install the hardware.

If you have a good idea of what’s involved and know the steps involved, then refinishing your wood garage door won’t be as daunting as you first thought.

Why do I need to refinish my wood garage door?

Like any wooden item, your garage door needs to be protected from the elements and other damage. Refinishing the door will help to protect it from various causes like:

• Weather. Wind and rain may cause dirt, dust, and other airborne debris to adhere to the surface of the door, eventually wearing the surface down.

• Fading. Constant exposure to the sun’s rays will cause the color of the door to diminish and fade. If your garage faces south or west, then fading will be quicker than if it faces north or east.

• Rotting wood. Humidity, moisture, and fungi can make the wood rot, softening and deteriorating it.

• Insect or pest damage. Pests like termites are wood’s biggest nightmare, boring holes, and tunnels within the wood, eventually destroying the structure of the wood.

How often does my wood garage door have to be refinished?

Your wood garage door should, as a rule of thumb, be refinished every two or three years. If you observe any signs of deterioration like weather damage, rotting wood, insect damage, or general wear and tear, then you may need to refinish it sooner. Every month, you should check the door for any signs of damage and treat them accordingly.

Should my wood door be re-stained or re-painted?

Each one will revitalize your wood door, and give protection from the elements and other damaging factors, but many homeowners choose to refinish the door with the same material as it exists. If you have a painted door it is much easier to repaint, as with a stained door. However, it is possible to stain a painted door, and vice-versa, but this requires much more work. The existing finish will have to be removed completely, sanded, cleaned, and washed before a new finish can be applied.

The best way to re-stain wood garage doors

To re-stain your wood garage door, follow these few simple steps:

• Wash the surface. Using a household cleaner and sponge, wash the whole door. Remove all traces of dirt, debris, dust, and mold or mildew.

• Sanding. Using various grades of sandpaper, go over the door until all imperfections are removed and the surface is smooth.

• Prepare the door before staining. Wait at least 24 hours after you have cleaned and sanded the door to make sure it is completely dry. Tape off any parts that are not going to be stained with painters’ tape.

• Use quality stain. To make sure that your wood garage door receives the ultimate protection, select a high-quality, exterior-grade, stain.

• Varnish the door. Stain will penetrate the wood, so to further protect the door, apply a good quality wood varnish, following the instruction from the manufacturer.


Is stain or paint best for wood garage doors?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. It depends on whether you want to preserve the natural look of the wood, or you want to be able to select the color of your door to match or contrast the color of your house. Stain will enhance the wood grain while paint covers it and the natural color of the wood will disappear.

What is the best stain for wood garage doors?

According to industry professionals, the best stain for a wood garage door is a penetrating oil-based wood stain. Rather than lying on the surface of the wood, a penetrating stain will seep into the wood fibers enhancing the grain and natural color of the wood. It is recommended for wood where the old finish has been removed.

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