Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Front Door Facelift

About a year ago I went to Colombia to spend the holidays with my family. I'd been many times before but had never appreciated all the colorful doors until this time around and I was smitten.

I vowed that once we were homeowners I would paint the front door a bright color that would make any Colombian proud. This Thanksgiving break I did just that. 

First I researched how to properly paint a front door and I used this post from the popular DIY blog Young House Love. Then I went to Home Depot to look at paint colors. I had already decided that I wanted either an orange, yellow, or blue door, like these:

Ultimately I decided that blue would look best against the brown trim of our house's exterior.

If you've ever been shopping for paint you know that once you've narrowed your choice to one color there are still dozens of different shades and tints of that color from which to choose. I don't have a trick for making that decision any easier. Some people, like the folks at Young House Love, like to take several swatches home with them to tape up to whatever they're painting in order to figure out which color looks best. You can even take it an obsessive step further by buying small paint samples of the shades you're comparing, painting tiny portions of the object with the different shades, waiting for them to dry, and then deciding which looks best. If you're like me and you don't have time for that shit then you can do it the way I always do: stand in front of the swatches until a shade catches your attention. Grab that swatch. Keep scanning until another shade catches your attention and then grab that swatch. Repeat until you've got several swatches in your hands. Hold them out like a fan and pick one. Or, read all the names of the paint and pick your favorite. Boom, done. 

MATERIALS: I chose a shade called Hacienda Blue and an exterior paint and primer in semi-gloss by Behr called Marquee Exterior. I prefer buying paint that is already mixed with primer because it saves time. To paint two coats on a standard size door I just needed one 29.5 oz can of paint (and I still have about 1/4 leftover). When you've got your paint and the color ready just take it to the employees at whatever hardware store you go to and they'll get it all ready for you; it takes about five minutes. You'll also need a paint brush or roller, depending on your door. Since my front door has a bunch of inlaid rectangles I used a 2 inch angle brush for those and a 6 inch foam roller for the rest. Make sure to get a plastic sheet to protect the floor area around the door, a receptacle in which to pour the paint, a bucket of water for cleaning the brush after the first and second coats, and a few rags for wiping away excess paint, cleaning your hands, etc. 

PROCESS: Plan to paint on a day that will be dry and sunny since painting a front door requires that it remain open for a long time. It's a good idea to begin painting early in the morning since it gets dark so soon this time of year. I started painting around 9 am, finished at 5 pm, and closed the door around 6:30. It helps to live in a safe neighborhood and/or have big dogs. 

Download some podcasts (my recommendations: Snap Judgement, Citizen Radio, This American LifeOur Hen House, Fresh AirStuff You Missed in History Class) because it's going to be a long day.

1. First remove any hardware the door has, like the doorknob, a knocker, etc. You can also cover hardware with painter's tape but you'll run the risk of paint seeping through underneath or discovering that you've left a part of the door unpainted when removing the tape. Do use painter's tape to protect the perimeter of the door.

2. Start painting! I began with the inside of the door. Using the small, angle brush I painted all the inlaid rectangles. This was the most time-consuming task because I was meticulous in making sure that every area of the rectangles was painted and, with so many ridges and edges, each rectangle took between 5 to 10 minutes (my door has 30). If I were to repaint the door I would use a thin artist's paintbrush to get to all the corners and edges more easily, along with the angle brush.

3. After all the rectangles have one coat of paint on them continue with the remainder of the door. At first I tried to use a foam paint roller but, since I hadn't sanded the door, the wood was too smooth so the paint didn't stick very well. I ended up using the angle brush on the entire door, for the first coat. I painted the horizontal spaces between the rectangles first and then the vertical ones, making sure to paint along the grain of the wood. 

4. After the inside of the door had it's first coat I repeated the exact same steps with the outside of the door and then I took an hour break for lunch to let the first coat dry. 

I only waited an hour in between coats because I reasoned that at least three hours had passed since I began painting the rectangles on the inside part of the door so it would be dry enough as long as I started with the same inner rectangles again. 

5. For the second coat I followed almost the same process as with the first coat except that when painting the horizontal and vertical rows between the rectangles I did use the foam paint roller because with the first coat of paint already on the door the second coat adhered to it perfectly with the roller, giving it a smooth and even finish.

I waited at least an hour and a half after the last coat and then removed the painter's tape around the door and carefully re-installed the hardware (with help from Chris and, eventually, Dave, due to my accidentally stripping one of the bolts causing it to become stuck but you won't do that, right?). 

Here's the finished door, looking pretty much exactly as I had hoped for!

Here's another photo of what it looked like before the paint. I think the blue does a nice job of brightening up and modernizing the room.

And here's what it looks like now from the outside:
Pretty, eh??

By the way, if you're going to paint your door please check if your house is part of a Homeowner's Association (HOA). If it is, then you need to inquire with them first as to what the rules and regulations are for painting a front door. 

As always, thanks for stopping by my tiny cubicle in the internet. Have a great week!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The door is badass. I'm glad you followed through on this proyecto as I remember how excited we were about doors in Cartagena and how we vowed to paint our first front door. Check the box!

Easy to cross the threads too. Welcome to the club of those many who've run into this problem.