How to Paint a Metal Garage Door [Find These Simplified Steps]

The garage door takes up a significant percentage of your home’s exterior surface, making it a vital component of curb appeal. 

This means you want the garage door to look its best to influence your home’s visual style positively. The good news is you can paint the garage door to mesh nicely with the rest of your home’s exterior décor and create a uniform look. 

Read along to learn how to paint a metal garage door and enhance your home’s exterior in a few simple steps. The article also provides a detailed list of the tools and materials you need to complete the process and suggests the best paints for steel and aluminum garage doors. 

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How to paint a metal garage door

To paint a metal garage door, start by choosing a cool day for the project. After that, strip away any existing paint from the garage door surface, clean it up, and prime it before applying at least two coats of your preferred paint. 

Always go for high-quality exterior latex house paint for your garage door to enhance it and protect it from the elements.

While this is a relatively small project, you want to do it correctly, as it can significantly impact the lifespan of your garage door.

The supplies you will need 

  • High-quality exterior latex paint and primer
  • Applicator 
  • Stepladder or stool
  • Respirator or dust mask
  • Eye protection 
  • Rubber gloves
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Sponge
  • Wire brush
  • Garden hose
  • Chemical paint stripper (optional)
  • Putty knife (optional)
  • Rags
  • Drop cloth 
  • Painters tape

Procedure for painting a metal garage door 

Once you have everything you need to complete this project, follow the procedure below to paint your garage door. 

Preliminary step: Choose a cool day for the project

Whether your garage door is made of steel or aluminum, it can readily respond to extreme cold or high temperatures. The metal will expand or contract with temperature changes.

If you paint the metal garage door in cold or hot weather, it will not dry optimally. As a result, you can end up with unsightly cracks or a faded look when the painted door dries. 

So, never paint a metal garage door when the weather is extremely cold, wet, or hot. Instead, check with the weatherman and choose a day when the ideal temperature range has been forecast. 

The best temperature for painting a garage door made of a metal alloy is between 50 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

You also want to ensure low humidity, and no direct sunlight is hitting the door for the best results. 

Step 1. Clean the garage door

The chances are that the garage door will be covered in dust, accumulated dirt, or even cobwebs. You need to remove these before doing anything else on the garage door. 

The most effective method of cleaning your garage door is to use a pressure washer. The water pressure won’t be strong enough to damage the metal as it might a piece of wood, but it will be powerful enough to hit the dirt and grime off the surface, leaving it clean. 

Ensure you pressure wash both sides of the garage door and let it air dry.

Step 2. Remove any old layer of paint from the metal garage door

If you are painting a new garage door, you may skip this step to the next. But for an old garage door with a peeling or worn layer of paint, you will need to start by removing that paint layer. 

The best way to remove an old layer of paint is to use a good-quality chemical paint stripper. The product should have the use instructions on the label. All you need to do is carefully follow the instructions to make the most of it.

Ideally, you will need to apply an even layer of the stripper to your garage door and leave it on for a few minutes to work the old paint before scraping it off with a putty knife. 

You should know it is ready for scraping when it starts to bubble all over the metal surface. 

Once done, let the door dry before proceeding to the next step. 

Step 3. Remove any rust and remaining patches of paint and dirt 

Stripping the paint will not leave the metal surface ready for a new coat of paint yet. The metal may have rust or stubborn patches of paint left on it; this is the time to remove them.

Start by wearing your protective gear. Put on some eye protection, a pair of sturdy work gloves, and a respirator or dust mask. You don’t want to inhale the particles from the metal surface, nor do you want them entering your eyes. 

Once you are geared up, use a wire brush to scrub away any noticeable rust on the garage door. Remove as much rust as possible from the metal. You may not remove it all, but ensure you knock down as much of the rust as possible. 

Next, switch to fine-grit sandpaper and sand down the entire surface, removing any remaining patches of paint and dry surface dirt. 

Sanding will remove the dirt while also creating a smooth surface ready for the new coat of paint. 

Step 4. Clean and dry the garage door surface

After sanding and smoothening the metal, wash it again with an all-purpose cleaner to remove the sanding dust and dirt. Use a sponge to scrub the surface and then hose it down to rinse away the dirt and grime. 

A garden hose should do the work, rinsing the surface and leaving it dirt-free. Once done, use clean towels or rags to dry the garage door before leaving it to air dry. 

Using towels or clean rags on the surface before air drying helps ensure better results and quicker drying. 

This entire preparation ensures the paint goes on easily and holds up well. 

Step 5. Cover the areas you don’t want the paint on. 

You need to prevent the paint from muddying the garage floor and specific parts, such as the handle.

For this task, you will need two things: drop cloth or plastic sheeting and painter’s tape. To prevent any spills from messing up your garage floor and driveway, lay down a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to collect the spills.

Additionally, consider applying painter’s tape to the areas you don’t want the paint on, such as the garage door handle, windows, and locks.

A heavy-duty painter’s tape will do an excellent job of keeping the paint off the covered parts. It is also a perfect way to achieve clean edges when painting. 

Step 6. Disconnect the automatic garage door opener 

It will be easier and safer to paint the garage door when you can manually lower and raise it. For this to happen, the door needs to be free from the automatic opener. So, pull the red emergency release cord that hangs from the garage door trolley right above the entrance.

Pulling this rope will disconnect the trolley from the carriage, setting the garage door free so you can operate it manually by moving it up and down using your hands. 

Once the metal garage door is free from its automatic opening mechanism, raise it to a comfortable height where you can paint it without stooping.

Step 7: Apply primer

Use your preferred applicator to apply thin coats of high-quality exterior latex primer to the entire surface of your clean metal garage door. 

Start with the door’s inset panels. You will need to use a 2-inch paintbrush with high-quality nylon bristles to apply the primer in these sections successfully. 

After priming the inset panels, take a moment to wipe away any excess paint outside the panels for a clean finish.

Next, use a paintbrush or ¾-inch roller to apply an equally thin layer of primer to the door’s stiles. Take your time to ensure you cover every inch of the surface evenly. 

More importantly, start applying the primer from the bottom up and lower the garage door as you proceed. Once the door is all the way down, use a stepladder to reach the top of the door and cover every portion.

Finally, apply the primer to the trim and let it dry for 12 hours or longer.

Step 8. Apply the paint 

After the primer has dried for at least 12 hours, it should be ready to accept a layer of paint. Priming is crucial as it will ensure the paint goes on nicely and evenly. 

Follow the same method used to apply the primer when painting the garage door, starting from the bottom up and finishing with the trim. Ensure you keep each coat of paint relatively thin to avoid a runny finish.

Notice that your choice of the applicator will determine the final outcome. If you use only a paintbrush, the painted surface will have a hint of brush strokes. However, if you go for a roller, you will end up with a solid color evenly across the entire surface.

So, choose your tool based on the outcome you want. Notice that if you opt for a roller, you will still have to use a paintbrush for the hard-to-reach areas. 

Step 9. Recoat the paint 

A single coat of paint may not provide the desired coverage, especially since we recommend using thin coats. So you will have to add another coat of your high-quality exterior latex paint to achieve the desired coverage. 

Be sure to let the first coat of paint dry for 12 hours or longer before inspecting the garage door and recoating accordingly. Applying an additional coat before the paint dries will prolong the drying time.

Once you are done, let the final coat dry for a further 12 hours before removing the painter’s tape and opening or operating the garage door.

Curing may take longer, so you may have to leave the door undisturbed for around 48 hours or longer before reconnecting the automatic opening mechanism. 

Best paint for your metal garage door 

If you try out various paint brands on your garage door, you will realize that some products provide better coverage, last longer, and look better on your metal door than others.

However, you may not have all the time and money to test every product on the market to identify the best. So you should find this section invaluable.

Here is the best exterior paint to consider for your garage door project.

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint

Rust-Oleum is a leading manufacturer of metal paints, and this Painter’s Touch latex paint is an excellent option for your garage door. 

It is formulated for various surfaces, including metal, wood, plaster, unglazed ceramic, and masonry. 

The product is low odor, thanks to a water-based acrylic formula that makes it safe for your family and the environment. You will be happy to know the product resists chipping and is formulated to provide long-lasting protection for your metal garage door. 

The video illustrates how to paint garage door in simple steps and get better results.

How to Paint a Metal Garage Door- FAQs 

Q1. What kind of paint do you use on a metal garage door?

Use acrylic latex exterior house paint on metal garage doors for the best results. More importantly, ensure you go for a high-quality option, as cheap paint will wear out sooner and result in waste. Consider paying slightly more money for a premium quality paint that will look better, last longer, and save you money in the long run. 

Q2. Do you need to sand a metal garage door before painting?

Yes, sanding a metal garage door before painting helps ensure a smooth, even finish. Sanding helps knock down any bumps on the metal surface, leaving the surface feeling smooth and ready for painting. It also helps the paint adhere better to the metal. 

Q3. Do I need to prime a garage door before painting?

Priming a garage door before painting is optional, but it is important. The primer helps make the paint adhere to the metal door better, guaranteeing lasting results. Therefore, you can expect your paint job to look better for longer if you apply a primer before painting. 

Alternatively, you could use a paint-primer blend, so you don’t have to prime before painting.

Conclusion on how to paint a metal garage door 

The key to painting a metal garage door is choosing the right products and following the correct procedure. 

This article provides you with a detailed list of what you need and the procedure to complete this task. We hope this simplifies your work and allows you to complete the project successfully. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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