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The 4 Best Types of Paint for Metal Doors 

Metal doors are a great choice for durability and added security. Even though they require fewer repairs, the paint on them can still chip and crack over time, especially if they spend a lot of time directly in the sunlight.

The best types of paints for metal doors are exterior acrylic or latex because they are highly resistant to fading and easy to clean. You can also use oil-based or epoxy paints to achieve your desired aesthetic.

Please continue reading to learn more about the best paints for metal doors and what you need to know. 

Two different color doors and a surface being painted

1. Acrylic (Chemical-Based)

Acrylic paint is the most common type used for metal doors for several reasons

  • It is resistant to fading.
  • Acrylic paint is easy to clean up.
  • It is easy to apply.
  • Acrylic paint dries quickly.
  • It is water-resistant, although not waterproof, unless you add a sealant top coat.
  • Acrylic paints contract and expand better than latex paints, which makes them great for crafting.
  • Amazon recommendation: Rustoleum Ultra Cover.

2. Water-Based Paint (Latex Paints)

Rust-resistant, water-based paints are another great choice. 

  • They are higher gloss making them easier to clean.
  • Water-based paints last longer. 
  • These paints can be cleaned with soap and water. 
  • Water-based paints are less toxic than oil-based.
  • They can be purchased in larger quantities for larger area coverage (such as interior walls). 
  • Amazon recommendation: Krylon COLORmaxx.

3. Oil-Based (Enamel Paints)

Oil-based paints are another option, though they are not widely used. 

  • Rust-resistant oil-based paints are tough and resist chipping.
  • These paints come in various colors. 
  • Rust-Resistant paints come in various finishes such as flat, matte, high-gloss, and semi-gloss. 
  • They will cover the door in one coat. 
  •  Amazon product recommendation: POR-15 Rust Preventive Paint.

Oil-based paints are more permanent and should be used on projects that aren’t going to require a color change often. The finish on oil-based paints lasts longer than on other finishes, giving you a longer life on your paint job. B

Oil-based paints do take longer to dry than their water-based counterparts. They are usually harder to clean as well, so placing them in high-traffic areas may not be the best choice.

4. Epoxy Paint

Epoxy paint is tough, making it great for metal doors, especially since, most of the time, it’s used in places like warehouses.

  • Epoxy paints don’t show wear and tear on them. 
  • They require you to add a hardener, which is more difficult to work with.
  • Epoxy paints are resistant to chipping, cracking, and high-temperature damage. 
  • They are waterproof.
  • Epoxy paints are mold resistant.
  • They handle high humidity and dampness well.
  • Epoxy paints can last 2-3 years with high traffic.
  •  Amazon product recommendation: INSL-X Sure Step Acrylic

Epoxy paint is the strongest of all the listed choices. 

Epoxy paint being poured onto a floor

Continue reading to learn how to prepare your door for painting so it will look its best.

How To Prepare a Metal Door for Painting

Cleaning a metal front door is pretty easy. You can simply spray a mild, all-purpose cleaner onto it. Using a wet sponge, wipe it off until it is clean.

If that doesn’t work, you can try a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Just spray the door and wipe it clean with a wet sponge. Be sure to allow the door to dry completely before painting it. 

The Best Way To Paint a Door

There are a few steps to follow to ensure your paint does well, not only in the painting process but in the wear and tear it will face down the road. The steps below map out how to paint and protect your metal door successfully. 

  1. Remove the hardware from the door and the door from its frame. This includes doorknobs, door knockers, and any hinges for holding the door or springs-loaded hinges to close the door.  
  2. Thoroughly clean the door, preferably with a degreaser. Be sure to scrub places where hands or feet would touch most often, then leave it to try for 1-2 hours. 
  3. Lightly sand away any paint chips or rough places. 400-grit sandpaper is the best to use. If the paint is extremely old and flaky, you may have to use a paint stripper. Once done, wipe it down to remove debris from dust.
  4. For best results, you may want to apply a Primer, depending on which type of paint you wish to use. Primer will add an extra barrier to your paint to protect your door. You can apply the primer using a roller for smooth surfaces and an angular sash brush to get into corners or panels.
  5. After allowing your primer to fully dry, apply two coats of exterior paint, allowing adequate time between coats for the paint to dry. You would use the same type of brush to apply this as you did with the primer. Once the last coat is applied, leave the door to dry fully for at least 12 hours.
  6. Once the door is completely dry, you’ll remove any painter’s tape you may have applied around peepholes or self-closing hinges before the painting process. Then replace the hardware and rehang it. 

Remember: If you use glossier paint, it is harder to make it look smooth. Use a sprayer with these, if you can, to allow the paint to go on thin and dry quickly. That will help it to look more finished. 

People Also Ask

Now that you know a bit more about the best types of paint to apply to your metal doors, read below for some other frequently asked questions regarding the topic.

Can I Paint a Door Without Taking it Down?

If possible, the best thing to do is remove the door first, along with all the hardware attached. If you cannot do this, you can paint it while it is attached. You need to cover any hardware, knobs, peepholes, hinges, etc., with painter’s tape. 

Use a high-quality angular brush to slowly apply paint around all of these items before rolling or painting the main part of the door. Allow the paint to dry fully before removing the painter’s tape. 

What’s the Best Paint To Use on a Metal Exterior Door?

The best paint types to use on a metal exterior door would be acrylic or latex. They have the best look for metal, and if you use glossier versions, they’ll last even longer. Glossier paints are also easier to keep clean, which can be done simply by wiping with a damp cloth. 

Do I Need To Prime a Metal Door Before Painting?

If you’re painting your door the same color as it was, then you do not need to prime it. On the other hand, if you’re planning on changing the color, then priming would be a good idea to keep the old color from seeping through and ensure that your new paint sticks to the door well. 

Do You Have to Sand a Metal Door Before Painting?

You do not have to sand metal doors that are in good shape. However, if they are in disrepair with the paint peeling or chipping, then you will need to sand them first. This gives your new paint a solid foundation to stick to and allows the finished product to dry smoother. 

Does Rustoleum Need a Primer on Metal?

You do need to use a primer when using Rustoleum on a metal door in order for the paint to stick properly. However, keep in mind that primer added to the paint will help prevent any future rusting. Therefore, if you want your work to last for years to come, priming the door beforehand is a good idea.

Can I Use Rustoleum on Bare Metal?

You can use Rustoleum on bare metal as long as you use a good-quality primer first. The primer adds an additional layer of protection and durability, which is especially important in an exterior metal door. Moreover, make sure you use a good-quality priming product for the best results.

How Do You Paint Without Paint Brush Marks?

When painting your door to avoid brush marks, the first thing to do is to use a roller and an angular brush. The angular brush will get in the crevices of any decorative pieces of your door, and the roller will let the paint glide on smoothly. Another thing you can do is sand and wipe down the door between each coat, allowing each coat to dry fully. 

How Do You Paint Without Roller Marks?

Using a roller versus a brush gives you the chance of having fewer marks, but some can still show up. To prevent roller marks, you can pre-dampen the roller cover. Be sure to shake out any excess water from the roller before beginning to paint. Another tip you’ll want to keep in mind in order to prevent roller marks is to use a pigmented paint.

Will Roller Marks Go Away When Paint Dries?

To remove roller marks after your paint is dry, you’ll want to sand the area lightly to remove any drips, lines, or humps from the roller itself. After wiping away the dust and debris from this, you can then apply another coat of paint. After that is dry, you should be left with a flawless finish.

How Do You Keep Paint From Peeling Off Metal?

Painting the finished product with polycrylic will help protect it from the weather and water damage, which will help protect the paint from peeling. Polycrylic comes in many different finishes, so you can match it to your preferred style. For best results, use a sprayer or a high-quality paintbrush to apply.

Is It Better To Paint a Metal Door With a Brush or Roller?

If the door is solid, meaning it features no windows or trim, then a roller will work best, as it allows you to achieve a smooth, even coat. If the door is a front door with windows and trim, it is best to use a high-quality paint brush that allows you to properly paint the trim. 

A paint brush roller and three types of paint

How Often Would You Need to Repaint a Metal Door? 

Depending on the weathering and which type of paint you decide to use, your work can last for several years. Outer doors that see the elements are going to wear faster from heat, sun, rain, and wind, not to mention the wear and tear from constant use. 

The best way to make the paint last is to use a primer, a durable paint, and then a sealant top coat.  

What Finish Is Best for a Metal Front Door?

The best sheen (or paint finish) for a metal front door is semi-gloss. Semi-gloss is the easiest paint to clean. You can do so with a damp cloth. Semi-gloss also gives a bit of a shine, making your work look more polished. This paint finish is also more resistant to nicks or scratches than flat paint. 

Things To Note

Although oil-based paint is more durable, it takes longer to dry than acrylic or latex. You may also find it is harder to clean than the other options. 

Due to its durability and being waterproof, Epoxy paint is a perfect paint in laboratories. Epoxy protects the area from chemicals and oils, temperature damage, and wear and tear. 

Epoxy paint is good for anything involving water, such as a swimming pool. Because of its resistance to mold, it is great in warmer, more humid climates and basements. It is also good for kitchen cabinets that are used often. You can use a brush or a roller to apply the paint, which can last on cabinets for up to 10 years. 

Metal doors are a great alternative to wooden doors for durability, strength, and lower cost. Painting them can be done as a DIY project with just a few steps. 

Bottom Line: The best paint for a metal door is a glossy, water-based acrylic paint because it is the least toxic, easiest to clean, and durable against cracking and fading. Oil-based paints (latex paints) are durable against cracking and fading but aren’t as easy to clean.

Whichever paint you choose, your metal door will look great in your space, whether it is a residential home, industrial loft, or warehouse.

For more, check out How to Fix Scratches on Wood Door (And 6 Quick Alternatives).