How To Paint A Metal Or Wood Garage Door

A super speedy garage makeover is easy as pie, especially if you have wooden or metal doors that do particularly well with a few coats of exterior paint. Our double garage has one big metal door (but it’s painted to look like there are two) so applying two coats of black semi-gloss exterior latex paint took no time at all- and only set us back about $20 for the paint.

We’ve always thought the maroon doors were a bit dated and a coat of glossy black would instantly update our almost 20-year-old garage. Sure enough, the crisp & classic black paint (Glidden’s Dark Secret) was just what the doctor ordered. Here’s the ho-hum before (we used large pieces of cardboard to keep from dripping on the concrete below the doors):


And now for the obligatory in-progress shot. John painted that odd diagonal stripe right before I snapped the picture… he’s such a rebel.


And here’s the crisp and clean after picture, thanks to little more than an hour or so of painting. We actually started this project at around 5:30 in the evening so we were racing the sun. And we’re happy to say that we finished well before it set (it would have been quite a messy task to be out there applying black paint in the dark).


We used a regular wool roller to apply the bulk of the paint (a foam roller is known to create more bubbles and inconsistencies so we stick to the wool/poly ones whenever we can) and a simple angled brush to get into all those cracks and trim out the edges. By the time we finished our first coat it was ready for a second, and the second coat did the trick (and of course went on much faster than the first). It’s really nice coming home to a “new” garage, and when we recently got the house appraised (stay tuned for those details) the guy actually asked if we got a new garage! Gotta love that $20 upgrade.

What about you guys? Do you have any painting projects on the horizon for spring? From adding color to your front door to gussying up some terra cotta pots, we wanna hear all about your hue to-do list.


  1. says

    I like that you aren’t adhering to the “garage door should match the front door” rule. Mine don’t match either. :) I just clicked over to your front door post and laughed since the beige is almost the color of my siding and I have black shutters and have been trying to decide what color to paint my front door. Red has the most votes so far on my blog but I’m thinking red/beige/black is too common around my neck of the woods so I may do something different. I just can’t decide! So, yeah, my painting project is to paint my front (and side and back) doors this spring.

    • Jude says

      I have a white house ,black shutters and a fun citrus green front door and I love it. My porch has 2 black rockers and in between is a bright red round table. On the walls are three different sized red stars. The front door has an adorable flower arrangement pulling all the colors together. It’s funn and happy…not boring or predictable, but yet flows all together. Hope this helps.

    • says

      I’m with you. I think I would have made some cool designs. In all seriousness though you did a great job taking the over all look and feel of that door to another level!

  2. SSM says

    Do your garage door sides sit flush to the sides of the garage? I would love to just repaint ours boring beige, but the hard part is from the seal to the outer edge.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey SSM,

      Our garage doors do sit flush to the sides of the garage (the door actually swings out and up instead of rolling up like a normal door, so if anyone parks or stands too close to it they get smacked by the door that juts out about three feet as it opens or closes). As for the seal, I don’t know if you can easily replace that (do they sell strips of garage weatherstripping stuff in different colors that you can use? Otherwise, is it worth painting the doors and just ignoring the seal which might not always match the door’s coloring anyway (they can’t possibly make those seals in every color of the rainbow, right?). You can also ask the paint professional at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s since they might be able to tell you how to paint your seal (or gel stain it or something) so it blends in. Hope it helps! Happy painting…


  3. says

    You guys paint everything, and it always ends up looking professional! We actually are tackling two small paint projects right now and it’s not turning out so sleek & smooth. We’re kind of battling brush stroke lines in the paint and paint drips that are causing the wood to stick to the papered surface. Any ideas for curing these two problems?

    The first project is a wooden boot tray to house our rain boots right when we walk in (we’re painting it black and after the first coat there were dried drip marks clumped up under the tray (we painted layed it on top of some wooden stakes to elevate it off the ground, mistake?)

    The second project is just a basic wood block with anthropologie coral hooks screwed in to hold our bags, etc. Same thing, we laid the wood down on paper, painted it, and then the paint dried and stuck it to the paper, so when we picked it up we had paper to peel off the backside and it looks messy.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Molly,

      Eeks! The paper-sticking-to-the-paint problem is one we’ve encountered in our early days of painting… so we know how frustrating it can be! Now we paint things on plastic or we are sure to pick them up while the paint is still wet and move them around several times before placing them back on the cardboard to dry (they usually don’t stick if you move them around instead of painting them all in one place and leaving them there to dry). The key is keeping things moving or sliding around so nothing pools in one area which always invites the paper or the cardboard below to stick to the drippy mess.

      Of course sometimes moving things or sliding them around means getting a fingerprint or two on your pretty paint job (and getting a bit of paint on your hands) but you can always move things and immediately touch up that small area where you got a fingerprint and then leave it to dry (don’t do a whole new coat because then you’ll get stuck to the paper/cardboard again, the key is moving it and calling it a day!).

      As for the drips and brushstrokes, slow and steady wins the race and two thin coats (or five) are infinitely better than one thick and gloppy one full of drips. We like to do super thin coats and then go do something else while they dry (letting things dry between coats is also key, otherwise you’re dealing with a gummy mess). Hope it helps!


  4. says

    I plan to paint my pantry door with magnetic paint. Then paint over the magnetic paint with white paint. The pantry door is for my girls to hang their art work. Hopefully they will be satisfied with the pantry door and keep the refrigerator door clean.

  5. says

    Love the black garage doors. It looks so fresh!

    We have a LOT of spring projects on the horizon. We just moved into a new-er (3 year old) construction in Midlothian, after spending 5 years living in an apartment in the Fan. We miss the architectural details, so we are planning on installing crown molding in our great room and dining room, and possibly bead board wainscotting in the dining room as well. AND, we are planning on installing a tile backsplash in the kitchen, along with a new porcelain single basin sink. AND we need to paint the downstairs half bath. That’s just inside… I’d also like to expand the back deck (it’s kind of awkwardly placed and small), but that’s near the end of the project list….

    I love the before, during, and after shots that you guys do….. I need to remember to keep my camera close by to take those kinds of pics!

  6. Vid says

    Hey! I love the new garage door! Also, I have a totally unrelated question. That lovely chandelier in your bedroom you two purchased at West Elm – I have a similar one from Pottery Barn. However, it comes with a cord kit, which involves running a cord along my ceiling to the nearest outlet. Is this what you two did with your chandelier, or did you hard-wire it? (And if the former, is the cord very noticeable? And if the latter, did you install it yourselves, or hire someone?) Thanks!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Vid,

      We hardwired ours by snipping the cord (cutting off the plug) to expose the two internal wires which could then be connected right into our ceiling fixture box. We didn’t have to hire anyone since the people at West Elm told us that’s how they hardwire everything in their store (they’re made to convert that way and in over a year we’ve had no problems with it). The key would be to confirm that in snipping the cord you’d be “converting” your fixture as it was meant to be converted. You don’t want a fire hazard on your hands! It’s definitely more seamless without the cord snaking up the wall and across the ceiling. Happy hanging…


  7. Amanda says

    Talk about perfect timing…as I was pulling out of my driveway this morning, I had this exact thought: “I wonder what steps I’d have to take to paint our garage door. I wish it were a darker color.” LOL!

    Thanks for the timely post!

  8. Jen says

    We have the exact same garage! I live in Bon Air, and that can’t be too far from you. Probably the same people installed our garages. Anyway, our door needs painting again. The whole garage is white, and I was thinking about painting the door either white or beige to match the house. There is no white anywhere on my house so the garage sticks out in a bad way. What do you think?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jen,

      I think you should definitely paint your garage door white or beige to coordinate with your house! Our black shutters and black back door tie in with our new black garage door and it looks much more cohesive! Happy painting…


  9. says

    I have so many paint projects on my list i’ll be lucky if we get them all done this summer (mantel, a couple of cabinets,bookcase, front door, porch spindles, etc). I probably would have had more done by now but with a toddler it kind of gets a little tricky to steal a few extra minutes to do some painting.

    The garage looks great, much better than the reddish color.

  10. says

    Dave and I repainted our garage doors last fall (black, too, actually). We have wood doors though so we had the super-fun task of sanding them first. On the plus side though, it was a really big pay off for only a few hours of work since we’re one of those town homes where the garage sits right in front, directly under the house.

  11. jbhat says

    We want a red door too, and are painting what will be the new baby’s room.

    Your new garage door looks so much better. I love that it’s painted to look like 2 doors. Great idea, that.

  12. says

    The new color looks great!
    My husband and I are teachers so our spring break next week is a great time to do some painting. We are going to take our kitchen table and chairs froms a scratched oak finish to a crisp white – if it doesn’t rain the whole week!

  13. says

    Looks great guys! :) Do we have any painting projects – chuckle, chuckle. A few. One of the first ones in the line-up is a recent addition to the to-do list… we have to seal the concrete floor with Kilz after the pee carpet comes up. We have a date for the Take Up & Haul now, by the way. April 7th. Woo hooee!!! Then, we’ll be painting nearly nonstop all spring and into summer. Cabinets, doors, wainscoting, walls, exterior door, shutters, and… you guessed it… the garage door! :)

    Can you give any guidance as to when it’s necessary to prime exterior surfaces? We’re planning on priming our front door and our garage door. After reading your post, though, I’m wondering if it’s actually not necessary.


    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jacci,

      We totally should have primed our front door for the simple fact that it took five coats of red to get the job done (over black paint- yikes). Tinted primer would have helped with the coverage (resulting in 2-3 coats instead of 4-5) but we did save some money by skipping that step since it would just have been a shortcut but wasn’t necessary for bondage or surface prep in that case (since exterior latex paint sticks easily to other exterior latex paint). When it came to the garage, since we were going from maroon to black, we knew the coverage would be just fine without tinted primer (two coats did the trick) and because we were using exterior latex paint on metal, we knew it would cling like crazy, so there was no need for primer in that case.

      It’s definitely something that should be evaluated on a case by case basis, but any surface that’s not super lacquered, polyurethaned, or veneered is probably OK without primer unless you’re worried about anything bleeding through (if you have an oil smear on the garage door for example, oil-based primer is the only way to go). In short, the garage door and the front door will probably be OK without primer, while a lacquered table, veneered TV stand, or polyurethaned kitchen cabinets definitely call for a coat of oil-based primer! Hope it helps! Happy painting…


  14. Lindsay says

    Wow, that looks really great, and is an idea that never would have occurred to me. Our garage door is probably 30 years old and silver metal (which goes with NOTHING else on our house). It’s in need of replacement, but since those aren’t so cheap and it technically still works (weird former owners bought a brand new mechanism and track thing, but left the old door – who does that?) it really can’t be a high priority at the moment. This might be just the ticket to help it look nicer until we eventually get a new one. I’ll have to go inspect it now and see about it’s painting possibilities. ;)

    Thanks for the great idea!!

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