How to Paint a Garage Door: From Start to Finish

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links. Please see our disclosure to learn more.

Some garage doors are just, well, ugly. It breaks my heart to see a lovely house, a mowed lawn, perfectly intact windows and roofs, and then there’s a garage door which looks like it hasn’t been used since the 1950’s.

Don’t let this be your house! Garage doors should be treated with the upmost respect, they shouldn’t ruin the look of your house. If you agree with me, and I hope you do, I will show you step by step how to paint a garage door in this post.

Why Painting your Garage Door is Worth your Time

If making your house and garage isn’t enough reason by itself, painting your garage door actually has more than just aesthetic benefits. Whether your garage door is metal or wooden, you can’t escape the inevitable decay of garage doors. Just like any other exterior surface on your house, it will require refinishing.

If your garage door is steel, it will need repainting to prevent the metal from rust exposure, therefore using rust-proof paint is paramount. I will have an article on the best garage door paint posted soon to help you choose.

If your garage door is wooden, it needs paint just as badly. Wood is prone to all sorts of decay and weathering such as rotting, splitting, and warping just to name a few. If this starts to happen, be sure to add a coat of paint on your garage door.

If you paint your garage door regularly, you will extent the lifespan of your door as it will be better protected from the elements.

Preparing and Priming each Type of Garage Door

Perhaps the most important part of this article, different garage doors require different paint, let’s keep it simple and compare wooden and metal garage doors.

Wooden Garage Doors

These types of doors need paint that will allow the timber to breathe. It is very important that you don’t use paint specifically for fences, you’ll want to use a microporous or moisture permeable paint. This type of paint will allow moisture in the timber to escape while preventing moisture to get in. It also offers great protection against weathering as most microporous paint have a UV filter that prevents the damage from sunlight. I wouldn’t recommend an oil-based paint as they need to be redone every 6 months at least and they arguably don’t give wooden doors a good finish.

Preparing your wooden garage doors for painting them is a fairly straightforward process. You’ll want to remove any paint that’s on there already, especially if it contains lead (this is only likely if you live in the U.S.).

Next, you’ll just want to clean the garage door, getting rid of anything that shouldn’t be there such as cobwebs or debris, try to notice any gaps or joints that may compromise the job. Finally, use a sugar soap solution with some warm water to wash your garage door, this will help to remove any grease and/or grime build up, be sure to leave it to dry before painting.

In terms of priming, just make sure you use the correct one. Match the primer you use with the substance used for your top coat. For example, assuming you’ve gone with a microporous top coat, you’ll want to use a microporous primer and so on.

Metal Garage Doors

It’s important to note a couple of things here:

• Some garage doors are already primed: This will help you as you only need to wash it and paint it from here, make sure to find out as this may save you a job, in this case, read the tin of paint to see how many coats of paint are recommended for your garage door.

• Check to see if your garage door is galvanised: Lots of new metal garage doors are galvanised. It is important to note that it is not recommended to paint these types of garage doors. The reason being that normal paint won’t adhere properly to galvanised metal and will start peeling off in flakes.

The cleaning process is again, very straightforward, you’ll just want to wash them with soapy water and a clean cloth. Be sure to remove any stains and residue on your garage door, again using sugar soap to decrease the door, allowing it to dry before priming and painting.

Be sure to take an extra step to prepare your garage door if it has been painted on before. In this case, you’ll just want to sand the garage door lightly so you’re down to the bare metal, ready to be primed.

Priming your metal garage door is the same process as the wooden door, just check with the manufacturer what primer is right for your door. If you’re unsure, most metal garage doors are primed with zinc phosphate, followed by a few coats of alkyd gloss. Most metal garage paint will give you guidance on the correct primer to use for it. Allow at least 8 hours for the primer to dry before painting, you may find that the garage door has already been primed, in this case, skip this step.

How to Paint your Garage Door

After preparing and priming your garage door, it’s time to get into the meat of it. Remember to use the same top coat as your primer for wooden doors, and the appropriate choice for metal doors, and then you should be all set.

Just keep in mind that when you paint outside, the best temperature for painting is between 8-25 degrees Celsius, or 46 to 77 Fahrenheit for you Americans, obviously make sure it’s not due to rain anytime soon too. So with that being said, let’s look step by step how to paint your garage door.

Step 1: Tape off Areas you Don’t want Painted

This is just to make sure paint doesn’t slash in unwanted areas. These areas might include the edges of your garage door, handles, and maybe windows too. Just make sure you spend time over this bit as it can save you lots of time if you make a mistake.

Step 2: Apply a Primer

If you didn’t read the last paragraph, first of all, I would, as you don’t want to get the wrong primer for your garage door. Secondly, you should apply primer as it will help the fresh paint stick to your garage door which will help with its durability.

Just one, thin coat of primer should do the trick here, make sure you let the primer dry, I’d allow at least to 12 hours. If possible, buy paint with a built-in primer as this will be helpful in saving you time, money, and ensures that the colour will look fine.

Step 3: Apply the First Coat

Time to bite the bullet and finally get some colour on your garage door, if the paint doesn’t have a built-in primer, make sure it is the same colour, or that the primer is clear.

Don’t do this step in a hurry as it’s important you take your time on each panel and also into each crevice and depression. Make sure you haven’t missed any spots, I’d recommend applying the first coat with a brush, it may take longer, but you’ll thank yourself when you’re looking at the final product. Feel free to paint the harder-to-reach places a few times, don’t worry, it gets easier after this.

Step 4: Add a New Coat with a Roller

Once you’ve covered the whole garage door with a brush, you can use a wide paint roller for the broader areas of your garage door. I’d recommend a roller as it is quicker and provides a consistent finish, make sure to paint with long, deliberate, and steady motions to ensure a clean finish.

It’s important to wait about 12 hours to apply each coat, but for most garage doors, one or two coats should be enough, it depends on the previous colour of your garage door.

Step 5: Let the Paint Dry

The fifth and final step is to simply wait 12-24 hours for your garage door to dry. It is best to leave the garage door down for this time and therefore I wouldn’t advise using it while the paint dries.

Be sure to not touch or have anything else touch the garage door for this time as it may mess up your beautiful paint job, I’d say keep your car parked outside for the meantime.

Now we’ve been through the bulk of painting your garage door, I’ll just give you some guidance on how to get the most out of it and maintain your garage door, so it looks just as good years later.

Tips on How to Maintain your Garage Door

Now you’ve got a beautiful garage door in just the colour you want, it’s time to think about preserving it. If you don’t take the step to properly maintain your garage door, it’ll only last a matter of months depending on where you live, places with higher humidity may shorten the lifespan of your garage door’s paint.

Here are some steps to add years onto your garage door’s paint lifespan:

Clean your Garage Door Frequently

You’ll know your garage door needs to be cleaned when it starts to show dirt, dust, or if you’re really neglectful, rust. Assuming you’re a responsible garage door owner, whenever your garage door is starting to look dirty, just simply wash it with a washcloth, sponge, and warm water.

This should be pretty easy to do, but it’s very important. I’d recommend cleaning it once every few weeks, or at the very least once every couple of months depending on your usage and where you live.

Keep an Eye on your Garage Door

Due to the exterior nature of garage doors, they can quickly be damaged by the outside elements such as wind knocking a branch into it or the neighbour’s kid with their bad aim with a football. Even if you’ve only just painted your garage door, you’ll want to inspect it every so often, perhaps once a week if you want to be on the safe side.

Therefore, just look for areas that may need a touch up, get them an extra bit of paint if they appear to be scuffed as this will prevent any noticeable decay to your garage door.

If you notice any damage to your garage door that can’t be fixed with some paint, be sure to check out my article on garage door repair.

Repaint your Garage Door Every few Years

Your garage door will need a new coat or two of paint every few years, personally, I’d repaint it as often as every year if you have the time, but a maximum of 3-5 years should suffice. This will massively extent your garage door’s lifespan in terms of appearance.

This again depends on where you live, the dryer, more geographically calm areas may only need a new coat of paint every 5 years where the opposite setting may need a new coat every year. Repainting should be a piece of cake as you’ve already got the materials you need, and it means your garage door should be looking great for years to come.

Final Thoughts

Painting your garage door doesn’t have to be a chore. Odds are that your garage door is metal, but even if it’s not, make sure to take the steps to prepare and prime your garage door as this will make the paint stick much better.

Be sure to paint and repaint your garage door as much as you can to keep it looking great as it’s part of the appearance of your house and therefore deserves as much respect as any other area of your house.

Painting your garage door is very important but so is painting your garage floor. If you’re looking on the best epoxy paints to paint your garage floor, click here.

Thank you for reading this post, I hope you found it useful. Please share this if you did, and enjoy your beautiful garage doors.

James Johnson

What started out as an intention to create my dream garage has turned into a mission to share my research, whether that's guides or product recommendations, with as many people as possible. I believe that everyone should be proud of their garage, and by reading my guides, you are in good hands to make that a reality.


More to Explore