Best Paint for Metal Doors – How to Paint a Metal Door Easily at Home

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Metal doors provide superior security and durability. Metal doors are for life. Unlike wooden doors, they require fewer repairs, they are fire-resistant and they do a great job of keeping out unwanted noise. Metal doors may last but their paintwork will eventually fade, crack and chip especially if they are subject to weather like front doors and garage doors. Painting a metal door is a fairly easy DIY task. With the right guidance, you will be able to select the best type of paint for metal and be well on your way to painting a metal door yourself!




Why Use a Metal Door?

In this article, we will look at the best types of paints for metal as well as how to paint a metal door. But first, let us consider the metal door. Metal doors are very popular for public buildings as well as commercial and industrial spaces. They are usually paired with a metal frame and created hollow to reduce weight. What follows are some reasons why you would want to repaint your metal door rather than discarding it for a wooden or aluminum alternative.

Metal Door Paint


Aesthetically Pleasing

Unpainted stainless steel doors can add a chic, industrial look to any space. It is also easy to clean. There are many different colors and shades of paint available for metal. There are also quite a few different types of finishes to choose from. Metal doors can be customized fairly easily. Mail slots can be installed as well as weather strips.

Customizing doors in this way may require the assistance of a professional unless you have had some experience with power tools.



Along with resisting forceful impact, metal doors also stand up to the elements and resist extreme hot and cold temperatures as well as frost, moisture, and humidity. Stainless steel doors will resist corrosion even without a coat of paint. However, mild steel doors will require high-quality exterior metal paint to seal them off from corrosive environments such as coastal areas.

Type of Paint for Metal



Metal doors offer an almost Fort Knox-like security to your building. This is because metal is naturally stronger than the toughest wooden door. You may think that a hollow metal door will not stand up to punishment; however, a hollow metal door absorbs far more impact than it would if it were solid.

A solid door will transfer the shock of this hypothetical impact to the edges which could damage the frame.


Reasonably Priced

Considering all the benefits of having a metal door installed on your property you will find that hollow metal doors are far more affordable than you may think. Consider purchasing a metal door as an investment in your security.



Types of Paint for Metal

With all the types of paints for metal, you may be wondering which one is the best paint for garage doors or which one is best for interior metal doors. In this section, we will take a look at the different types of paints for metal to help you get a better understanding of what to expect from different metal door paints. It is important to note that you will get the best results from your paint by first applying a primer to the metal. This will ensure proper adhesion of your paint as well as increase the durability of your metal doors paint.

How to Paint a Metal Door


Water-Based Paint for Metal Doors

Latex or water-based paints are very convenient as they tend to dry faster than oil-based paints. Water-based paints are also much more pleasant to work with as they tend to have a low odor in comparison to oil-based paints and cleanup does not require any solvents, water will do the job just fine.

While applying a primer is always recommended it is especially the case when it comes to water-based paint but even then, water-based paints are not as durable as oil-based paints.

Water-based paints do not stand up to the rigors of use as well as epoxy or oil-based paints. However water-based paint is generally more affordable than oil-based paint and once it has dried it is very easy to clean.


Oil-Based Metal Door Paint

While there are specialized door paints on the market, most of these will be oil-based, and for good reason. Oil-based paints are tough and do not chip or scratch easily. These types of paint come in a wide variety of colors and finishes from flat and matte to high gloss and semi-gloss. Oil-based paints can smell bad as they tend to contain chemicals like solvents. Working with these paints requires you to do so in a well-ventilated environment and it is also advised that you don a respirator.

Best Exterior Metal Door Paint

Oil-based paint comes in many formulations that can be rolled, brushed, or sprayed on. Choosing to use a can of spray paint for a metal door is less than ideal as spray cans are more suited to smaller projects. Generally speaking, oil-based paints take longer to dry than other paints but there are quick-dry formulas to look out for. While some paints on the market are specifically formulated for metal doors, oil paints are a good option too because of their durability.


Epoxy Paint for Metal Doors

Epoxy is tough and it is a great choice for painting a metal door. These types of paints are usually used in industrial settings such as the automotive industry as well as the pressure vessel manufacturing sector. The one inconvenient part of working with epoxy paints is that it requires you to manually mix a hardener with the resin paint.

This hardener acts as a catalyst that sets the curing process in motion.

Depending on how much you put in can affect how rapidly your paint begins to cure, which can make things tricky if you put too much hardener in and it begins to set mid-project! The best part of using this paint when painting a metal door is that it is extremely hard-wearing. It even resists solvents! Epoxy paint resists chipping as well as cracking and can withstand very high temperatures.

  Water-based paint Oil-based Paint Epoxy paint
Ease of Use
Interior Use
Exterior Use



Best Paints for Metal Doors

Now that you are familiar with the best types of paint for metal, it is time for the all-important paint selection process. There is an overwhelming amount of paint brands on the market but ideally, you want to opt for one that prevents rust such as Rust-Oleum Door Paint. Below is a shortlist of the best paints for metal doors, which should help you to reduce the time it takes to decide which type of paint for metal is right for you.

Painting a Metal Door


Best Primer for Metal Doors: RUST-OLEUM Clean Metal Primer

Priming a metal door before painting is very important as it will increase the adhesion of the paint to the metal as well as help achieve better coverage. Rust-Oleum is a trusted brand in the world of paint and when it comes to primers they offer a premium product that does a great job. This primer can be painted over light rust and will prevent it from getting worse. This formula is durable and provides a coating that can be covered with any top coat you like. Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer is ideal for painting metal doors the right way!

RUST-OLEUM Protective Enamel Paint
  • Weather and corrosion-resistant primer bonds tightly to surfaces 
  • Oil-based formula provides excellent rust prevention for metal
  • Creates a flat white finish that can be covered with any topcoat
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  • Primes metal doors
  • Increases adhesion and durability of the topcoat
  • Ideal for both indoor and outdoor environments
  • Fast drying


  • It will require a topcoat


Best Oil-Based Paint for Metal Doors: RUST-OLEUM Door Paint Ultimate Durability

Rust-Oleum Door Paint is specially formulated for wooden as well as metal doors. This paint is designed to be chip and abrasion-resistant as well as fade-resistant which makes it ideal for front doors that are often subjected to the harsh rays of the sun. The oil-based formula dries to the touch in less than 2 hours to form a protective layer that resists corrosion. Rust-Oleum Door Paint is a great choice for homeowners who are looking for a satin finish that stands up to the rigors of use. Choose the ultimate in durability and opt for Rust-Oleum Door Paint.

  • Weather and corrosion-resistant coating for metal and wood
  • The oil-based formula provides excellent rust prevention
  • Dries to the touch in 1-2 hours and covers up to 105 sq ft
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  • Durable
  • Fade-resistant
  • Ideal for metal doors
  • Quick-drying
  • Protects from corrosion


  • Strong smelling


Best Water-Based Paint for Metal Doors: MODERN MASTERS Front Door Paint

Modern Masters Front Door Paint may be on the more expensive side of the spectrum but it offers durability and a coating that will not fade. This is a water-based metal door paint that makes cleaning up easy with just water. Modern Masters Door paint dries to the touch in just one hour! There is a wide range of colors to choose from and the finish is a satin finish that is easy on the eye and easy to clean. The water-based formula is low-odor which makes it far more pleasant to work with than oil-based paint.

  • Suitable for interior and exterior metal or wood surfaces
  • The water-based formula provides long-lasting durability
  • Dries to the touch in 1 hour and covers up to 100 sq. ft.
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  • Low odor
  • Water-based
  • Fade-resistant
  • Wide variety of color options


  • It may not be as durable as other oil-based options


Best Epoxy Paint for Metal Doors: ADCOAT INDUSTRIES Direct to Metal Paint

This two-part acrylic paint is great for painting metal doors. This paint does not require a primer and can be applied directly to the metal surface. Adcoat Industries DTM Paint is durable and long-lasting as it is intended for industrial use such as piping, tanks, and structural steel. If you are looking for extremely tough paint for your metal door this is a great option. The process will require special mixing of the paint with a catalyst which will act as a hardener which can be daunting for first-time users.

ADCOAT Direct to Metal Paint
  • A primer, undercoat, and topcoat in one for premium protection
  • Uses 100% pure epoxy catalyst for a durable bonded finish
  • Withstands water, salt spray, moisture, and high temperatures
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  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Durable
  • Self-priming
  • Protect coated and uncoated metal


  • Requires mixing



How to Paint a Metal Door

Now that you know more about the best paints for metal doors you are just about ready to get painting. Before you get started make sure that you have everything you need. This section provides an overview of the process of painting a metal door and contains what we hope is a host of helpful advice.

Exterior Metal Door Paint

Below is also a list of items that will make the task of painting your metal door that much easier. Take your time and avoid rushing. Your patience will result in a beautifully painted door. Most of all, have fun!

  • Metal door paint
  • Metal primer
  • Foam roller
  • Small paintbrush
  • Painters tape
  • Drop cloth
  • Tools (for removing hinges and fittings)
  • Sawhorse (optional)
  • Paint stripper (optional)
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Respirator
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth or lint-free cloth



Choosing to take a bit of time to prepare before you get to paint a metal door can make the difference between a quality-looking finish and making a botch of things. Use the list of supplies above as a checklist to be sure you have everything you need.

Preparation for Painting a Metal Door

Removing the door from the door frame can make the job a lot easier and so will remove all the fittings such as the doorknob, letter trap, and peephole. If you can not remove the door for some reason or another, you can paint the door while on its hinges just be aware that there is a greater chance of drips forming when the door is vertical. If you managed to remove the door and the fittings, place the door on a sawhorse or across trestle legs. Use a drop cloth to protect the floor and anything else you do not want to mess paint on.

Make sure to work in a well-ventilated area and be aware that it is advised that you wear a respirator while stripping paint, sanding, and painting.


Cleaning and Sanding

First, remove the grease and grime from the surface of the door using a commercial degreaser. This will increase the bond of the paint. Once you have degreased the door and you are confident that the door is clean, it is time to lightly sand the surface. Use 320 or 400 grit sandpaper to create a decent surface profile for the paint to bite into. You can paint over existing paint but it is a good idea to use sandpaper and a putty knife to remove any chipping and flaking paint. Stripping old paint using a chemical stripper is also an option when painting a metal door.

Rustoleum Door Paint

Chemical paint strippers are toxic and should be used with caution. If you choose to strip the old paint from the metal door, apply the paint stripper and allow it to sit. The old paint should begin to bubble and lift from the metal. Use a putty knife or scraper to remove the paint and use steel wool on more stubborn areas. Make sure to wear latex gloves and safety goggles. Give the metal door a good rinse with water to make sure the chemical stripper is completely washed away. Any residue left behind can affect the bond of the paint negatively.

Once the metal door is dry, proceed with light sanding. Always refer to the manufacturer’s safety precautions and instructions for use.


Priming the Steel

Applying a primer increases the adhesion of the paint to the steel which increases the durability and it also makes for a more even coat of paint. If you are using a combination of paint that has a built-in primer then you can skip this step. If your paint is dark use a gray primer and if your paint is light in color use a white primer. This will prevent the chances of your primer showing through your topcoat. Before you begin applying the primer to your metal door make sure that it is free from dust, grit, and debris.

What Paint to Use on Metal

Tack cloth does a great job at this. Alternatively, you can use a lint-free cloth. At this point, you will want to mask any areas with painter’s tape that you do not want to paint. This includes fittings that you could not remove. If the door you are working with has recessed panels use a brush to cut these in with a paintbrush. Once you have done this proceed to apply the primer using a short-nap roller or a foam roller.

Let the primer dry for the time suggested by the manufacturer and then apply a second coat if you feel it is necessary.


Painting a Metal Door

Paint the door with your metal door paint. First, cut in any recessed door panels and other areas that may be tricky to reach with a roller. Once you have done this, continue applying the metal door paint with the roller. To achieve the best finish, aim to apply multiple coats of paint while allowing the paint to dry between each coat. This is a far better strategy than applying a single thick coat. If you are working on a sawhorse you will have to flip the door over to address the other side.

Metal Door Paint Color

Just make sure that the paint completely dries before you do so to avoid damaging the paint. If you have chosen to paint the door while it is still on the hinge in the frame, you may want to plan to apply one coat of metal door paint, allow it to dry, and then proceed with the second coat the following day. By doing this you will be able to close your door in the evening instead of leaving it open all night. Once the metal door paint has completely cured it is time to put the hinges, doorknobs, and the other fittings back onto the door.

Reassembling the door prematurely can risk damaging your fresh coat of paint. Rather be safe than sorry.



Tips and Tricks for Painting a Metal Door

Painting a metal door is not necessarily something we do every day, and you may not know where to start. To help you with the process, we have put together a list of our top tips for painting metal doors.

  • When it comes to painting metal doors the best tip is to apply a metal primer before applying the paint. This step can be skipped but it can compromise the integrity of your coat of paint which can lead to peeling and chipping.
  • Choosing to remove your door from the hinges can make painting a lot easier as well as reduce the chances of dripping paint on the floor of your entrance. Removing the metal door allows you to take it somewhere else so that you can paint it stress-free.

Best Paint for Metal Garage Door

  • When a metal door has been standing in the sun it can get rather hot. You should avoid painting a metal door when it is hot as the paint could begin to dry while you are painting which can interfere with the painting process.
  • Always apply several thin coats of paint instead of a single thick coat. This will ensure that there are no drip marks and that you have an even and professional finish. Multiple thin coats also make for a more durable coat of paint.
  • When painting over old paint, make sure that you remove any old flaky paint that could compromise the bond of the paint. Consider stripping the metal door paint using a chemical stripper. Doing this will allow you to start from scratch However take the correct safety measure when dealing with chemical strippers.


The best paint for metal doors depends a lot on how much you are prepared to spend. Oil-based paints and specialty metal doors paints tend to be on the pricey side of the spectrum but they will offer a quality finish that will stand up to the rigors of use as well as the weather. Generally speaking, water-based paints are less durable than oil-based paints. It is also best to use a metal primer when painting metal doors as this will increase the adhesion of the metal door paint and make for a professional-looking coat.



Frequently Asked Questions


How Long Does It Take for Metal Door Paint to Dry?

Metal door paint usually takes a little longer to dry than water-based paint. You are looking at about two to four hours. It is best to refer to the manufacturer’s directions for drying and curing times. Take into consideration that temperature and humidity will influence these times.


What Paint to Use on Metal?

Unlike wood, metal is not porous so the paint does not soak into the surface nor does the paint have much to hold onto. Consequently, you should consider applying a primer to the metal before painting. Generally speaking, oil-based paints are an ideal option for metal.


What Is the Best Paint for Metal Garage Doors?

If you are planning to paint a metal door, you will need to look for paint that is suited for exterior use. These paints are usually oil-based and are weather resistant and do not fade over time. It is advised that you apply a primer before applying your exterior metal door paint.


Should I Use a Roller or a Paintbrush When Painting a Metal Door?

Use a roller when applying exterior metal door paint. Paintbrushes tend to show brush marks when painting on metal. However, brushes are ideal for cutting in areas that are difficult to reach like recessed panels and corners.


Can I Use Water-Based Paint on My Metal Door?

While using water-based or latex paint on metal is doable, they are generally not as durable as oil-based paints. Oil-based paints tend to adhere to metal a lot better, especially when applying over a coat of primer.