INDIANAPOLIS – One of the easiest and least expensive home improvement jobs is painting. In this Home Zone I’m focusing on painting doors, interior or exterior. You’ll learn how to do it fast with a simple trick to make a typical door stand out.

The first step to proper painting is preparation and supplies. For this method of painting a door you’ll need a roller, paint tray, paintbrush, painter’s tape and a Phillips head screwdriver to take off the door knob.  

The first thing you’re going to have to decide is if you’re going to paint the door when it’s on the hinges or maybe take it off the hinges and put it on sawhorses.  I have done both.  In this case I’m going to do it when the door is still on the hinges. It’s generally faster. The reason is because you can paint one side and then the other without having to wait for one side to dry.  If you were to use a saw horse, you’d have to let one side totally dry before flipping it over. There are devices that hold the door in place where you can flip the door over without using sawhorses, but most people don’t have those.

When you keep the door on the hinges you’ll need to cover the floor beneath the door and around it. Plastic is just a couple of dollars for a roll and you can toss it when done. Also, tape off the hinges and remove the door handle so it’s easier to paint without going around obstacles.  The final piece of preparation is giving the door a little light sanding with fine grit paper if there are rough spots. You can run your handle over the door to feel if there are any problem areas that need to be sanded. If not, skip this step.

Now that the prep work is done, here’s how to make a standard builder door pop!  This is specifically for a door that has a pattern that’s indented. Paint that indented area a slightly darker color compared to the flat areas. You won’t conscientiously notice it if it’s just dark enough.  But your brain will notice the difference and it will visually pop out. 

I used an ultra white on the flat areas and a darker grey-white on the indented patterned part so it stands out. Because the indented area isn’t flat apply the paint with a brush and do the brushing part first, on both sides.  Use plenty of paint to get the entire indented area covered.  You will only need one coat. And you don’t have to be very careful. The only thing you need to do is make sure there isn’t excessive paint pooling up.  If there are any runs, brush them out.  This part with the brush literally takes just a couple minutes per side. If you get the dark grey painted on the flat areas, that’s perfectly fine. It won’t matter because you’re just going to cover it up with the ultra-white.  

After you paint the patterned and indented area let it dry for about half an hour or more if needed. Now it’s time to roll the flat areas on both sides with that bright white paint, using a foam roller. Because they are flat, you shouldn’t get any paint into the indented areas. Try not to press hard when rolling, especially when near the edges that meet up with the indented areas. Instead of one thick coat that may run, use two thinner coats. This also works for different colored doors, not just white.  Just make sure one tone of the color is darker than the other so it stands out.

Here’s another key to painting. When you’re rolling paint, and say you’re going left to right, you want to make sure the metal cage that holds the roller is on the right, and vice versa if going the other way.  If roll away from the cage side it’s more likely to leave a streak behind because the cage side applies the most hand pressure and therefore lays down the most paint.  Paint toward the cage so any streaks of paint are rolled over by the trailing roller, whether it’s a foam or nap.  This applies to painting walls too.

The finished door product looks much better as the pattern area now pops.  The final tip is about future painting and maybe touchups.  If you have leftover paint from any project, write down on the paint containers where the paint was used in your home and which color it is.  Trust me, if you don’t, you are likely to forget.