How to Paint a Front Door without Removing it

A white painted door with fall pumpkins and mums

I did something crazy again. This is becoming a thing for me around here. One day I wake up and decide to install board or batten, or paint a sideboard, or, in this case, paint my front door.

So, for today’s post, I’ll show you how to paint a front door without removing it. Because removing it would be a pain. And rehanging it would be an even bigger pain. And, more important, because YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

A white painted door with fall pumpkins and mums

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How to Paint a Front Door without Removing it

Let’s gather up our materials and then get going.

Things You’ll Need

  • Exterior Paint – I used this paint & primer in semi-gloss.
  • Primer (if needed)
  • Sandpaper
  • Painter’s Tape
  • X-acto knife
  • Paint Roller
  • Paint Brush
  • Drop Cloth


You’ll spend more time prepping than painting. Or at least, that’s how it felt for me. Here’s our front door (before).

Painting a door without taking it off is all about the prep.

You want to apply painter’s tape on the sides of the door, on any windows near the grids, thresholds, and door hardware.

taping off the sides with painter's tape before painting a front door
taping off windows with painter's tape before painting a front door

To apply tape around the door hinges, simply apply painter’s tape over the entire hinge, then use an X-acto knife to cut away the excess.

Using an X-acto knife on painters tape around door hinges

Before painting, you should clean your door. I used Krud Kutter.

Using Krud Kutter to clean the front door.

Then, you should sand the door. I used an 180 grit sandpaper and then clean off any dust it produced. This will give the paint better adherance.

Sanding a Front Door to prep for painting

Finally, and this might be kind of obvious but I’ll mention it anyways, you’ll want to paint the door when it’s open. You can tape off the doorway with a plastic shield or throw caution to the wind and leave it wide open.

If you do tape up a plastic cover in the doorway, make sure it’s tight! The wind can blow the plastic in and out, possibly hitting the door as your painting it. #askmehowIknowthis.


You’ll want to use an exterior paint that has weather protection. Our door is a bland dark gray, and our house is gray, so it just was just meh looking. We already have white trim, and I thought a white door will really freshen things up and help the trim pop.

Valspar Exterior Paint for Front Door

The only problem was that I had to match our existing trim white paint. This wasn’t too bad, or perhaps the paint gods gave me mercy today because I ended up finding a direct match in my first batch of paint swatches. Can you guess which one I went with?

paint swatches next to a front door

If you guessed the second one down from the top – you would be correct! The color is Valspar Thousand Shells. I had the Exterior Paint tinted this color.

You may also need to use a primer if you door is really dark and you are switching to a light color. Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer is a good one to use as it works on all surfaces. Not all doors are wood so you want to make sure whatever paint you get will adhere to the surface of your door.

Tip: Paint light coats and ensure each coat is FULLY DRY before applying another coat. If not, you’ll get a weird texture to your paint, kind of like a sandpaper effect. #askmehowIknowthis.

The door will still look good but your signficant other, who has eagle eyes, will spot this and make it a point to let you know. #askmehowIknowthis.

A white painted door with fall pumpkins and mums

I applied a total of three coats of paint to our door. Once everything was fully dry, I removed the painter’s tape.

A white painted door with fall pumpkins and mums

I’ll have to go in and touch up around some spots but overall I’m SO HAPPY with our new door!

A white painted door with fall pumpkins and mums

The Power of Paint. Whoever said that was right on the money. It makes such a difference!

a white door with a pampas grass wreath on it - in post, how to paint a front door without removing it

This year, I decorated our Fall front porch with a Pampas Grass Wreath and tied some orange velvet ribbon to it.

a close up of a white front door with a pampas grass wreath and a orange ribbon for fall

Then, I picked up a few pumpkins, a haystack (holy moly are these things messy), and a couple of baskets for mums and small pumpkins and pinecones.

a haystack, pumpkins and a basket flanking a door - A fall decorated front entry

Our Doormat is a cheapie I picked up at Target, but I bought a large rectangular black and white striped mat to make it pop a bit.

A white painted door with fall pumpkins and mums

Our mum basket also hides the ugly outlets for our outdoor lighting. Final touch? Some fairy lights, and then I’ll be good to go!

A basket with puple mums on front porch

I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial! Thanks for visiting today and check back soon for some fun Halloween posts!

xo Karen

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