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How to Paint a Panel Door Perfectly in Under an Hour

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A simple, step-by-step tutorial for how to paint a panel door without streaks, drips or brush marks. Get a beautifully painted door in a few hours using this easy-to-follow method for how to paint a 6 panel door!


Instructions for how to paint an interior door with panels.

Chris and I have painted a LOT of six-panel doors in our time…

We installed and painted 8 new doors at our first house and every door in our current house is a primed and unpainted six-panel door in need of paint. In the process of painting all those doors, I’ve developed this easy method for how to paint a door without brush marks or streaks!


Tips & Tricks for How to Paint a Panel Door

Before we get to our tutorial, let’s talk through a few commonly asked questions when it comes to painting panel doors.

Can I paint my door panels?

Of course! My motto is, anything can be painted. But ESPECIALLY door panels! Even the old, flat doors can be updated with trim to look like paneled doors and then painted.

Never be intimidated by painting – just make sure you do your research and use the right kind of paint! 🙂

How do you paint a door with a roller?

As you’ll see in my tutorial below, I always use a 4″ roller to paint my doors. I love that small rollers leave a smooth finish and do a great job of minimizing drips.

I would not, however, recommend using a large 9″ roller (like you’d use on a wall) because it will be too large for the flat surfaces and will likely result in a mess.

How do you repaint interior doors?

Repainting interior doors is just as easy as painting them the first time! No need for primer or any fancy prep work, simply clean it and paint over the existing paint.

One thing to note is, if you’re painting over a darker color, the first coat may be streaky. But after 1-2 more coats it should cover completely.

What is the best paint for interior doors?

We’ve always used basic interior paint in a semi-gloss sheen for our interior doors. I wouldn’t recommend using cheaper multi-purpose paints, but rather high-quality interior paint.

If you’re painting wood doors, be sure to use a stain blocking primer like this one before you paint too!

How to Paint a 6 Panel Door Perfectly

For a printable copy of the materials and instructions, scroll down.

Interior panel doors really are easy to paint with a roller and brush without leaving runs, drips or streaks. Don’t believe me?

In this tutorial I’m going to show you just how simple it is to paint an interior panel door in a way that’s quick and perfect!

Whether you’re installing new panel doors and want to learn how to paint a new door, or just want to give your current doors a refresh, this method for how to paint a panel door will save you lots of time and headaches!

Let’s get started, shall we?


1 Quart of Semi-Gloss Paint


Plastic Drop Cloth
2” Tapered Paint Brush
4” Roller and Tray
Painter’s Tape
Box Knife
Screwdriver or Drill (if removing hardware)


Prepare the Panel Door for Painting


If you’re painting a door that’s already been installed and functioning, your first decision is whether you want to paint the door while it’s installed or remove it from the hinges and paint it un-installed.

I prefer to remove it and then place it in a space where it’s easier to maneuver, but it’s totally up to you.

If you’re going to paint it off the hinges like I do, use a screwdriver or drill to remove the door from its hinges and then find a wall you can lean it against and put plastic down on the floor and on the wall where the door will lean against it.


You could also uninstall the doorknob hardware but I prefer to have less “mechanical work” so I just tape around the doorknob and lock mechanism.

If you’re painting a bare door with no hardware installed, the only taping you need to do is the notched areas for the hinges and door lock mechanism (on the side). You don’t want paint to accumulate in these places – otherwise your hardware won’t fit when you go to install it.

To get the tape nicely aligned with the notches, I tape a larger section and then use my box knife to cut the tape around the edge.


The last step in the prepping portion of this method for painting interior doors with panels is to wipe down the door really well.

You want to remove any dust or dirt that has accumulated on it before you paint it. I wipe it down first with a cleaning wipe and then dry it off with a clean rag.

Paint the Panel Door

I’ve found the best method for painting the entire panel door in one sitting is to:

  1. Paint the first face
  2. Rotate the door
  3. Paint the sides
  4. Paint the second face

Doing it in this order enables you to get a coat on the whole panel door in one sitting so you only have to have 2-3 painting sessions (rather than 4-6 if you were doing one side at a time and waiting for it to dry in between.)

You’ll also notice I don’t paint the tops or bottoms of my panel doors – It’s really not necessary and could potentially even cause issues with the threshold or door jam if the layers of paint get too thick.

Like I said, this is a quick and EASY method for painting doors, so we keep things as simple as possible! 😉


I break the door up into three “sections” – each including two panels.

Within each section there are two detailed, recessed panels and 7 flat faces.

Starting with the first section, paint the detailed parts of the top two panels with your 2” tapered paint brush.

Then, go back with your roller and roll the flat faces around the detail. Be sure to roll in line with the wood grain pattern.

Do the same thing for the middle and bottom sections.

After each section, be sure to go back and check your prior sections for drips or runs and use your brush or roller to smooth them out.


After the first face is painted (and even while it’s still wet) use the sides to grip the door and rotate it around.

Lean the top corner against the plastic hung on your wall. Don’t worry about leaning the top edge against the plastic – any paint that gets smudged will be taken care of it in the second coat.



Use your paintbrush to paint the bottom few inches of the sides and then paint the rest of your sides with the roller.

Be sure you don’t get too much paint on your roller when you’re rolling paint onto the side of the door. If you have too much, it will bead onto the front and back of the door. I always encourage the “less is more” philosophy when you’re first learning how to paint a door with a roller.


Use the same method as described in step 1 to paint the second side of your door. Don’t forget to watch for drips and runs as you go and clean them up along the way! When you’re done, you should have a coat of paint on the entire door.

If you’re painting with a darker color, don’t worry if the first coat is thin and shows a bit of the primer through. Your second (and potentially third) coat will cover that and give you a beautiful solid color without streaks.

When you go to paint the second coat, I would recommend starting with what was your “second side” in the first coat. This will ensure that both sides have a turn leaning against the plastic when they’re a bit wet. If needed, you can touch up the paint in those corners before installing – but more often than not they aren’t noticeable.

After you’re totally done painting, be sure to score along the edges of the tape before pulling it off. Paint tends to dry over the tape seam, and if you don’t score it with a box knife before taking it off it will pull some of your paint off with it.

Install and Enjoy Your Painted Door

The last step is, of course, to install your freshly painted door!

Here’s how the dark door looks in our master bathroom:

Man, what a difference it makes!

As promised, here are the printable instructions:

Yield: 1 Painted Door

How to Paint a Panel Door

How to Paint a Panel Door

Learn how to paint a panel door with a roller in just a few hours without leaving any drips or streaks!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Active Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $35


  1. Remove the door from its hinges leaving the hinges attached to the door jam.
  2. Put plastic on the floor and wall where you plan to lean the door.
  3. Tape (or remove) the doorknob hardware and tape inside the hinge notches.
  4. Clean the door with basic household cleaner.
  5. Paint the first side of the door: Starting at the top, working your way down by sections, doing the details with a brush and the flat surfaces with a roller.
  6. Rotate the door and then roll the small sides.
  7. Paint the second side using the same method as above.
  8. Let dry and paint a second coat.
  9. Install back on its hinges and enjoy!


Painting a light color over a dark color may need 3 coats to fully cover.

Don’t forget, the paint sheen you choose can greatly affect the outcome of painting projects like this one, so be sure to use my FREE quick-reference guide for selecting paint sheens.

It takes all the guess-work out of picking the correct paint sheen so you can do it right the first time! Click below for a copy!

As always, let me know if you have ANY questions as you practice this method for how to paint an interior door with panels! I’m sure you’ll be teaching your friends how to paint a panel door in no time. 😉


DIY 6-Panel Door transformation with before and after of interior door makeover.




11 thoughts on “How to Paint a Panel Door Perfectly in Under an Hour”

  1. You made a good point when you shared ensuring to use a stain blocking primer like this one before painting wood doors. My wife just mentioned the other day that we should improve the look of our doors for Christmas at the end of the year since her mom is coming to celebrate it with us. She just returned from a magnificent week in vacation at massachusetts area, we wonder how she would be surprised to look at the new change in our home

  2. Good share. You made a good point when you shared ensuring to use a stain blocking primer like this one before painting wood doors and boston house painters. My wife just mentioned the other day that we should improve the look of our doors for Christmas at the end of the year since her mom is coming to celebrate it with us. She just returned from a magnificent week in vacation at Massachusetts area, we wonder how she would be surprised to look at the new change in our home. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I think the reality of dark paint is that it chips easily… I’ve experienced this too. You could try a sealer – we never have – but it wouldn’t hurt!

  4. I did this to all of my doors in my house and the dark contrast was gorgeous. The only problem I have now is when my ring or fingernail hits the door it scratches and the white shows through. I know you mentioned to another reader that sealing was not needed just a good quality paint. However mine was Behr paint and still have this issue. Any ideas???? Yep

  5. Hi. I am planning on using your instructions ti pain all my interior doors. May I ask what color interior paint you used?

    Thank you

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