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How to Paint a 6-Panel Door

Many traditional wooden doors were constructed using a series of horizontal rails and vertical stiles to form raised panels across the door's surface. These classic stile-and-rail doors are used less frequently today, though the raised-panel door design is still popular. Many wooden and fiberglass doors are heavily embossed to form raised panels that mimic the look of stile-and-rail units. The majority of paneled doors can be easily painted to complement existing decor. This project can be completed by most do-it-yourself homeowners over the course of a weekend.

  1. Remove the door from the hinges. Use a hammer and center punch to drive out the hinge pins so you can remove the door. Set the door onto a pair of sawhorses. Use drop cloths to protect the floor around the sawhorses from paint drips and spills.

  2. Use a screwdriver to remove all remaining hardware. Tape the door's windows and other specialty features using painter's tape to protect them as you work.

  3. Scrape away any existing paint that is loose or flaking using a paint scraper or putty knife. Test the remaining areas of the door to ensure all existing paint is intact. Lightly sand any paint that is not removed to create a textured surface. This will help the new paint adhere to the door more successfully.

  4. Clean the door using a mild detergent and water. Remove all dirt, dust, and grease or oils, and then dry the door with a clean rag.

  5. Prime the door with an oil-based primer. Apply a single coat of primer using a bristle paint brush. Take care when applying primer to the molding and trim, and wipe away any excess primer or drips before proceeding. Allow the door to dry completely before applying paint.

  6. Choose an oil-based paint for best results. Start by painting the molding and trim profiles on the door. Brush the paint away from tight corners, not into them. This technique prevents the decorative lines of the trim from being concealed by too much paint.

  7. Wait several hours for the molding sections to dry, and then paint the panels. Wipe away any excess paint, and allow these panels to dry for several hours before proceeding.

  8. Paint the rails and stiles, as well as the edges of the door. These larger sections should be painted in the same direction as the wood grain. By painting each section of the door separately, you can better maintain separation between the panels. This approach helps to preserve the look of the door.

  9. Allow the door to dry completely, and then flip it to the other side and repeat Steps 5 through 8. Once both sides of the door are complete, re-attach the hinges and re-hang the door. Install any locks or hardware that are needed, and remove painter's tape to complete the project.

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