Once You Go Black: The Dirty Details on Painting Doors

A few days ago I posted some before & after pictures of my painted black doors. I love how it looks. It’s completely changed the feel of the rooms. Despite how much I grumbled about it, I’m glad I did it.

I’ve gotten mostly positive feedback. It was a little funny when my mom commented, “What made you decide to do that? Well, it does take a little getting used to.” Translation: Why in tarnation would you paint your white doors black?? LOL, my mom rocks.

Now I’d like to share some things that I did or thought of while painting. I was completely wrong in estimating how long it would take and how hard it would be, but there were a couple of little things that I did that did cut down on the time and make it easier.

  • Research. Check out my Pinterest board on doors. I read a lot on how to paint a door. You might think that sounds silly, but there are specific ways to paint a door. Read on.
  • Doors should be painted with semi-gloss paint, similar to your baseboards and millwork.
  • The more sheen (shine) there is to paint, the more it shows brush marks. Semi-gloss has a lot  of sheen. Hence, there is a specific order on how to paint a door.
  • More sheen also means that if you use a roller for any of it, you need a large nap, at least 3/8″ or more. Otherwise, you’re going to see roller marks. It will drive you nuts once it dries.
  • Consider: Do you want to paint the entire door, or just the side that shows in the hallway? My thought was, “I want a black door, not a white door that has a black side.” So I painted the entire door.
  • Consider: Do you want to take the doors off of the hinges or leave them on? Taking the doors off of the hinges will greatly increase your workload for two reasons. One, You’ll most likely need two people to put the doors off and on the hinges. Two, you can only paint one side at a time.
  • If you’re leaving the doors on the hinges, prepping them will add some time.
If you leave the door on the hinges, be sure to tape them. Use an Xacto knife to trim the tape.
Prepping keeps it from looking sloppy.
Be sure to protect your floors. I taped down trash bags.
Drips don’t leak through the plastic. You can tape onto any surface, including carpet.
Paint can leak through canvas drop cloths or cardboard.

  • Each side of the door will need about 3 coats, even with primer.
  • Consider: Do you want to take the doorknobs off or leave them on? Taking them off adds time, but prepping (taping) and carefully painting around them adds time, too. I recommend taking them off. It’s not hard. I ended up painting all of my doorknobs and I’ll post about that soon.
  • Consider: It will take several days for the paint to cure and completely harden. Even if they are dry to the touch, they won’t be completely hardened for a few days. Ladies, think “nail polish.” Even if your nails feel dry on top, you know that it takes a few minutes for them to get rock hard.
  • Consider: Do you want to use a primer or a paint that has a primer already in it?

Okay, now there are some things that I would’ve done differently if I could do it all over again:

  1. I really hate to say this (hangs head), but I believe it would’ve made a huge difference. 😦 I wouldn’t have used Behr paint. I use Behr a lot for painting furniture. It is my go-to base for my homemade “chalk” paint colors. But, I never, ever, ever use it to paint walls. Ever. I always use Benjamin Moore paints. People often assume that Ben Moore paints are super expensive. They’re not. In fact, the gallon of Behr that I bought was more expensive than the last gallon of Ben Moore that I bought. Ben Moore paints are superior quality. It covers better. The color is better quality. It is better paint, hands down.
  2. Instead of a jet black color, I would have used a dark gray. I’m crushing on Dragon’s Breath by Benjamin Moore.

I hope this helps you! The biggest pains (literally) for me were my knee and hand. It is a lot of up & down, and my hand was killing me from holding onto the brush for so long. (sooooo.long.)


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3 thoughts on “Once You Go Black: The Dirty Details on Painting Doors

  1. I have completed three doors with 5 to go. I decided to paint just one side and I like it just fine. I also chose to replace my hardware from polished brass to brushed nickel, cost was an issue but saved so much time and energy. I did use Behr with primer, color Black, it worked fine for me, covered with one coat. I used a brush, but did buy rollers to try on the remaining doors.I love the effect of black doors, took awhile to convince my husband, but he did help with the hardwre install, so I guess he's okay with it.


  2. I'm just getting ready to choose a black color for my interior doors. I changed the stairway railings and spindles from all white (1970's) to a black stain wood (looks more wood color than black) and black metal spindles. My trim and doors are white white…..so I've started thinking the doors need to be a color…..then I saw all theses black door articles…..Black it is! I've always been a Behr paint man, and I will stay a Behr paint man!


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