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How to Paint Your Garage Door

Like it or not, your garage door directly influences the visual style of your home. After all, the surface area of the average garage door comprises nearly a third of a home’s face. Luckily, you can do something about it by repainting over the bland, stock finish—or worn, decrepit finish if it’s quite old.

Detached suburban home

Do it right, and the door will look amazing, blending in well with the existing style and theme of your home. Do it wrong, and let’s just say you probably would have been better off leaving the door as is.

Before you get started, here are a few tips to ensure the job is done right.

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How much paint?

The amount of paint you’ll need depends on two factors: how big the garage door is and what kind of material it’s made of. If you don’t know what material your garage door is, take a look at this handy guide to figure out what kind you have installed.

A wooden door, for example, will take a lot more paint to cover than an aluminum door. To add to that, if you’re painting the same shade or tone, then you won’t need as much; but if you’re going from a light to dark or dark to light color, then you’ll need more.

Your best and safest bet is to buy an entire gallon of the color you need. This should give you an ample supply of paint to get the job done, plus some extra paint in case you need to retouch at a later date.

Custom home

If the garage door is steel or aluminum you’ll want to use high-quality latex exterior house paint. In addition, it’s worth noting that you should never paint metal outdoors in extremely wet, cold, or hot weather conditions. This is because metal and alloy will shift and expand depending on the temperature, and so the paint will not dry at optimal levels. This can cause the paint to look cracked or faded once dry.

If the garage door is wood, you’ll want to apply a primer—after sanding, of course—and then paint. When it comes to wood, you can be a bit choosier with the kind of paint that you use. Be sure that it’s at least tailored for outdoor use.


Before you can start painting, there are a few things you’ll need to do. Aside from purchasing the gallon of paint and all the necessary supplies, you’ll also need to get the door ready. It’s likely covered in dust, dirt, grime, cobwebs, or oxidized paint.

two-story home with mixed siding and brick

The most efficient way to clean it is to pressure wash both sides (if possible) and let it air dry. Then take a sanding block and scrub down the entire surface of the door. Luckily, it’s a garage door, so it’s not like you need to sand the surface perfectly even. Instead, you just want to make sure that you get all the nasty grit and grime off of it, otherwise your coat of paint is going to look shoddy.

Check the hinges, sides, and sanding underneath for the same dirt, cobwebs, and nasty buildup.

If you don’t care about getting drips of paint on your garage floor or driveway, then you can skip this next step. Otherwise, lay down a drop cloth or old blanket underneath to catch any excess paint. In addition, you’ll want to tape up the trim around the door unless you’re going to repaint that, too.

Painting tips

To be honest, you can paint the garage door exactly the way you’d paint any other surface. Use long, slow strokes. Cover an area with a single coat and let it dry before applying another. Don’t worry, we have a few extra tips you can heed while painting, which should help you get a better finish out of the deal.

It’s a good idea to paint just one lengthwise panel at a time, stopping at the hinges. To paint the ends of the panels, slide the door up until the hinge separates, giving you room to maneuver. You might have to reach above your head or use a small stepstool to reach the panel ends when using this method, but it allows you to cover the entire surface. You can also paint the upper and lower lips of each panel this way, as well.

Unique painting ideas

If you just want a solid, even color across the entire door, you can use a roller and a brush for the smaller surface areas. If you want to paint the door so that you can see brush strokes, you’ll want to stick with a paintbrush.

brick home with red garage door

If the garage door is wood, you can sand it down completely to remove any old layers of paint or primer and then stain it. You’ll want to find a shade that matches your house, but you can also get pretty creative with how you cover the door. For example, with a bit of ingenuity you can make it look old and worn, while retaining its attractiveness.

With aluminum doors, you could get creative with your patterns or styles. It just depends on how good you are with a brush.

In no time, you should have that ugly, old garage door looking clean and fresh.

This post was written by guest contributor James White from HomeyImprovements.com.

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