How to prepare an Exterior Door

Painting Exterior Door in Doncaster

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An important part of preparing an exterior door is to ensure that all six sides of your door are undercoated. Many DIY painters fall into the trap of only undercoating and painting four surfaces of the door. Primarily the face, back, hinge side and lock side and totally overlook the underside and top edge of the door.

Why is it important to paint all six sides? Firstly, by not undercoating all six sides of the door, it will void the warranty from the manufacturer and secondly, by undercoating all sides, you are protecting your door from twisting, swelling and from timber rot developing. This article will feature an exterior solid Duracote door as pictured above, but the process is the same for any style of timber door.


Remove & Prepare door surfaces

Firstly, remove the door from it’s hanging position and place it on the ground with the hinges facing up so as to allow access to both the bottom and top edges. Remove the hinges and the preparation involves the following process:

  1. Make sure that all nail holes, dents and scratches are filled with timber putty and left to dry
  2. Lightly sand both faces of the door to scruff the preprimed coating and to leave a dull finish. Also sand the edges to smooth any timber putty and to remove any sharp edges
  3. Wipe down and/or wash to remove any chalkiness, residue dirt, dust or grease
  4.  Spot prime any sections that have bare timber or repaired areas

Handy Tip: When the door has been removed from the hinges, it s also a great opportunity to prepare and paint the timber door jamb at the same time you are working on the door edges.

Fill nail holes with timber putty, lightly sand the door jamb, caulk any small gaps, undercoat and then apply top coats. Removing the door and hinges makes the painting process so much faster.!!

Paint around the door edges

Once the preparation is completed you only need a small brush and a small mohair roller.

  1. Start by painting the side edges of the door: top, bottom and hinge side. It is recommended to use an enamel undercoat as it will better penetrate the timber. A good quality acrylic undercoat will work fine as well. If the undercoat is absorbed well into the timber edges, apply another coat of undercoat to give the edges some body
  2. Once the undercoat has dried, apply two top coats of the finished colour using a brush to cut in and a mohair roller to spread the paint. NB: mohair rollers are great for timber surfaces that show a lot of grain and using the roller will help with spread and coverage
  3. When the top coats are dried, reattach the hinges to the door

Paint the remainder of the door

Once the door is hanging back in its position, you can complete the painting of the door. Since the top, bottom and hinge side edges are complete, you don’t have to remove the door again and you only have to paint the two faces and lock side edge.

  1. Lightly sand the timber bead around the window to smooth any timber putty. Wipe down with a moist cloth to remove any dust
  2. Remove any door furniture and then apply the necessary undercoat to the door as shown below
  3. Complete the painting of the door with two top coats of the finished colour


The key to a long and lasting exterior door is to apply an undercoat and top coats to all 6 sides of a door, especially the top and underside edges. Applying the simple steps outlined above to any exterior door will give you the confidence that your door will be protected from all weather conditions particularly the rain. Good luck with your project!


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