How to Paint a Metal Garage Door

How to Paint a Metal Garage Door – Easy Prep and Paint Guide

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Your garage door is among the first things that is seen when anyone approaches your home, and it makes sense that it should look good. Learning how to paint a metal garage door would be a cost-effective method to drastically improve the appeal of your home. Additionally, your garage door is always exposed to the harshest elements, so it would make sense to give it a fresh look while also protecting it from rust. Below, we have given you all of the instructions and advice that you would need when it comes to painting a metal garage door and more.



Preparing the Surface

Whether you are painting an old chair or a metal garage door, the preparation phase should never be overlooked or rushed.

Some novice painters will try and get away with skipping this step, but we cannot stress how important it is as this will play a significant role in what the garage doors look like once the job is done.

The preparation phase for painting a steel garage door or any other type of metal consists of five steps. This does not include waiting for the perfect weather conditions, but we would assume that you would not paint in the rain. Nevertheless, take a look at the different tools and materials needed for the preparation and painting phases below.

  • Metal primer
  • Paint thinner
  • Paint roller and roller tray
  • Ladder
  • Rags
  • Safety glasses
  • Sanding block
  • Sponge and bucket
  • Paintbrushes
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint

Metal Garage Door Painting Supplies


Remove Rust and Old Paint

Sandpaper is going to be a key component at the start of the preparation phase. We would recommend using anything between 80 and 120-grit sandpaper to remove surface rust and old paint.

It is very important to wear safety goggles and a respiratory mask as the particles of rust and the paint could cause a series of health issues if you were to inhale them.

Once you have sanded the surface of the garage door until completely smooth, you can move on to the next step.


Thoroughly Clean the Door

This is where you should do your best not to make any mistakes. Start by rinsing the door with a hose or pressure washer to get all of the dust and debris off the surface. Then use warm soapy water and scrub the door to get rid of any grease, rust, and dirt. Once this is done, rinse the door and allow it to dry completely.

Clean Metal Garage Door for Painting


Protect All of the Door’s Fixtures

Before you can jump into adding a coat of primer, you should use painter’s tape to protect all areas that you would not want to get primer or paint on. This would be your handles, trim pieces, gaskets, and in some cases, windows. To prevent any spillage onto your driveway, you should lay down some drop cloths.


Apply the Metal Primer

Now that you have the door prepared, you can apply a coat of primer. If you are learning how to paint a metal garage door, this is a crucial step as the primer will allow you to get the best finish by giving the paint something to stick to. Try to be as thorough as possible by applying the primer to each crevice. This will ensure that the paint will stick to the entire door.

Use Primer on Metal Garage Doors


Start Painting

Once you have allowed the primer to fully dry, you will be able to start painting your garage door. Be sure to stir the paint thoroughly beforehand and then apply it from top to bottom, one panel at a time.

Depending on the type of paint you choose, you may need to wait a while for the first coat to fully dry before adding a second layer.



Painting the Garage Door

We may have briefly touched on the painting process, but there is a lot more that goes into it. It is important to consider all of the factors that could affect the paint such as the location of the garage, the climate, and so on. While you could wonder what kind of paint to use on metal garage doors, there are a variety of options that can be considered, so let us take a look at them below.


Types of Paint That Can Be Used

There are plenty of different types of paints that can be used; however, we have narrowed it down to two paint variants – acrylic latex exterior paint and oil-based paint. We have found that the perfect paint will be capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions without peeling and fading. 

Paint Types for Metal Garage Doors


Acrylic Latex Exterior Paint

Commonly used for painting a steel garage door, acrylic latex exterior paint is easy to maintain and care for, quick to dry, and resilient to discoloration. It is also available in a range of finishes, including satin and gloss, to protect the surface from scratches and scuffs.


Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paint is generally more resilient to oxidation and stains than acrylic latex paint, although it may yellow or corrode with time. It takes a longer period to dry since it is more resilient, often up to 24 hours. Oil-based paints also release significant quantities of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can harm the environment, your physical well-being, and the air quality in your garage.

Type of PaintAdvantagesDisadvantages
Acrylic Latex Paint
  • Available in different finishes
  • Does not fade
  • Quick-drying
  • Mild odor
  • Needs multiple coats to get a good finish
  • Not as durable as oil-based paint
Oil-Based Paint
  • Excellent stain coverage
  • Incredibly durable
  • Resistant to moisture
  • Generally only requires a single coat
  • Longer drying time
  • Susceptible to yellowing
  • High levels of VOCs


How to Paint a Metal Garage Door

Once you have chosen your preferred paint and you have allowed the primer to fully cure, you can begin painting. Keep in mind that the more effort that is put into the preparation of the surface, the better the finish will be. Below, we have provided all of the necessary steps to ensure that you get the best finish.

  1. Open the can and stir the paint for a few minutes to evenly distribute the color
  2. With your paintbrush, cut in around the edges to get to the sections that the paint roller will not reach
  3. Once you have finished the previous step, switch to the paint roller and apply your first coat of paint
  4. Allow the paint to dry before applying the second coat
  5. Once you have applied your final coat, use a clean brush to run over the paint to get rid of roller marks to get a smooth finish
  6. Remove the painter’s tape that you applied during the preparation phase once the paint has dried


Tips to Achieve the Best Finish

To ensure that you get the best possible finish while learning how to paint a metal garage door, it is important to pay attention to the details of the project. We have provided a few helpful tips that will help you avoid dripping paint while also achieving a smooth finish.

Best Finish for a Metal Garage Door


Keep the Garage Door Closed When Painting

Since you are wondering if you can paint metal garage doors, you should only be painting what can be seen from the outside. Opening the door while the paint is wet will damage the finish, but another important part of the door is the vinyl trim.

When your garage door’s paint is completely dried and you are about to open it, softly tap the door from its exterior around the opening around the vinyl trim.

This is to ensure that the metal face of the garage door is not attached to the trim. The tapping will dissolve any connection that may have formed between the garage door and the trim that was added to the frame during the painting process.


Start from the Top of the Door

After you have put down some drop cloths, start painting from the top of the door. This will make it easier for you to catch any drops and smooth them out before you reach the bottom. Additionally, the drop cloths will also catch any splatters, making it much easier for you to clean up once you have finished the job.

Tips for Painting Garage Doors


Do Not Use Too Much Paint

It is easy to believe that less is more, but using too much paint, especially when you are using a paintbrush will result in a messy paint job. Instead, dip the brush halfway into the paint and allow it to get between the bristles before you start. This will allow you to make even strokes without worrying about paint dripping everywhere. 


The Drying Process

Drying is something that is often an afterthought but we recommend that you allow the paint to dry overnight before you try to open the door. By doing this, you will allow the paint to harden and it will not be scratched off as the door opens.

Another crucial step is waiting for the paint to dry between coats.

A few thin coats are much better than a thick single coat, as the thinner coats are harder and more durable. Try to wait at least 12 hours before adding a new coat of paint.

Metal Paint Drying-time on Garage Door



Paint Maintenance

Painting your garage doors is not something that can be done without real effort, but the good news is that you can easily maintain them once the paint has dried. Metal paint is generally incredibly durable and all you will need to do is ensure that it is clean and that you do touch-ups when needed.


Touch Up Maintenance

By keeping a bit of the same paint left over, you can easily color-match and touch up the damaged part of the door. This can be done by using painter’s tape to section off the damaged area and then lightly sanding it. Once cleaned and dried, you can apply paint to the area and it should look as good as new.

Painters Tape for Metal Garage Door


Repainting Your Metal Garage Doors

As we have mentioned before, the paint that is used on metal garage doors is usually very durable. This means that repainting is something that only needs to be done every five to ten years. However, there are certain situations that will require you to add a fresh coat of paint. This includes factors such as:

  • Changing the color of your home
  • Significant damage to the surface of the garage door
  • Peeling, chipping, and fading paint across the surface of the door

When to Re-Paint Garage Door


Understanding how to paint a metal garage door is not a difficult task, but this is not something that can be done quickly. Instead, take your time to prepare the surface and properly tape all fixtures and glass to ensure that you can focus on the task ahead. A freshly painted garage door will not only make your home look more beautiful, but will also protect the doors from harsh weather. We wish you luck as you tackle this challenging yet equally fulfilling project!




Frequently Asked Questions


How Do I Know What Kind of Paint to Use on Metal Garage Doors?

The great part about painting a metal garage door is that there are two types of paint that can be used. You could either use acrylic latex paint, which dries faster but is not very durable, or you could use oil-based paint, which is durable but has a strong odor. However, you should keep in mind that you will need to use a primer to help the paint stick to the metal surface.


Can You Paint Metal Garage Doors?

Yes, you can. Just like you can paint virtually any material, metal can be painted too. It is very important to remember that your preparation is incredibly important and will have a drastic impact on the results of your paint job.


Is It Easy to Learn How to Paint Aluminum Garage Doors?

Yes, it is. Learning how to paint aluminum garage doors is as easy as learning how to paint any other metal. When painting garage doors, the steps are pretty much the same regardless of the type of garage door that you have.

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