What Kind Of Paint To Use On An Interior Metal Door?

Metal doors can last a long time, but their paint can fade, crack, and chip over time, especially interior front doors and garage doors. With so many different metal paints to choose from, you might be wondering which one is best to use. Wonder no more, as we did thorough research to provide you with the best answer.

Acrylic or latex paints are the best types of paint for metal doors because they are fade-resistant and easy to clean. These paints will work well for an interior metal door.

Painting an interior metal door can be a lot of work. Choosing the right paint is just the beginning. There are other factors to consider that you'll learn about as you continue reading!

Light switch on the gray textured wall next to the door with metallic handle, What Kind Of Paint To Use On An Interior Metal Door?

Paints You Can Use For Interior Metal Doors

closed metal fire door in orange color. entrance

When applied correctly, most paints work well with metal. The choice is yours, but to assist you in your painting project, we've listed the advantages and disadvantages of the paints that you can use for your interior metal door.

Acrylic Paint

This paint is the most commonly used type for metal doors because it is fade-resistant, easy to clean, easy to apply, and dries quickly. Acrylic paint is water-resistant but not waterproof unless you apply a sealant top coat.

Click here to see this acrylic paint on Amazon.

Water-Based Paint

Latex or water-based paints are more convenient than oil-based paints because they dry faster.

Water-based paints are also more appealing because they have a weaker odor than oil-based paints and do not require any solvents to clean; water is sufficient. They are generally less expensive and once dry are easy to clean.

Click here to see this water-based paint on Amazon.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paints are resistant to chipping and scratching. These paints are available in a variety of colors and finishes, from flat and matte to high-gloss and semi-gloss.

Oil-based paints have a strong odor because they frequently contain solvents and other chemicals.

Click here to see this oil-based paint on Amazon.

Epoxy Paint

Epoxy is a tough paint that is ideal for painting a metal door. However, it can be more expensive than other paints, and you have to manually mix the hardener with the resin paint.

Click here to see this epoxy paint on Amazon.

You can watch this video to get ideas on what specific paint to use on your interior metal door:

How Do You Paint An Interior Metal Door?

Ruined brick wall with closed steel door

Now that you know more about the types of paint for metal doors and the benefits of using them, you're almost ready to start painting. Before you begin, make sure you have everything you need.

This section offers an overview of how to paint an interior metal door. Here is a list of items that will make painting much easier. 

  • Grease/oil remover: This removes any grease or oil stains from the surface before painting the steel door.
  • Heat gun or a paint stripper: You should remove any existing paint from the metal door before applying new paint.
  • Sandpaper: Sanding is necessary to smooth out uneven surfaces that haven't previously been painted.
  • Primer for multiple surfaces
  • Your choice of paint

You will also need the following general painting supplies to paint an interior metal door:

  • Plaster tape/tape
  • Paint roller with a maximum nap size of 3/8"
  • Paintbrush
  • Roller container or tray

You'll also need a mask and goggles for sanding. If you plan to use oil-based paint, you should wear gloves.

Soap and water are fine for water-based paints when you're cleaning brushes and rollers, but to remove oil-based paint, you'll need special chemical solvents.


Before painting an interior metal door, taking a little extra time to prepare can mean the difference between a professional-looking finish and a shoddy job. 

You can make the task much simpler by removing the door from the door frame, along with all the fittings, like the doorknob, letter trap, and peephole. You can still paint the door without removing it from the hinges.

Just be aware that painting an interior metal door while it is in a vertical position increases the likelihood of drips forming. If you are able to remove the door and the fittings, place the door on a sawhorse or across trestle legs.

Protect the floor with a canvas drop cloth while you're painting.

Click here to see this drop cloth on Amazon.

Sanding and Cleaning

Man using orbital sander to prepare a metal panel

Use a commercial degreaser to remove the grease and grime from the interior metal door's surface. This will strengthen the paint's bond. After you have degreased the door and are confident that it is clean, lightly sand the surface.

To make a good surface profile for the paint, sand with 320 or 400-grit sandpaper. You can paint over existing paint, but first, remove any chipping or flaking paint with sandpaper and a putty knife.

When painting a metal door, you can also use a chemical stripper to remove old paint.

Click here to see this 320 or 400-grit sandpaper on Amazon.

Chemical paint strippers are toxic, so you should be cautious when using them. Apply the paint stripper to the interior metal door and let it sit if you decide to remove the old paint. To remove it, use a putty knife or scraper.

For particularly difficult stains, use steel wool. To remove the chemical stripper on the interior metal door, thoroughly rinse it with water.

Any debris left behind could harm the paint's adhesion. After the interior metal door is dry, lightly sand it.

Steel Priming

Align the wall with a painting ground coat, painter hands holding spatula, close-up.

Applying a primer improves the paint's adhesion to the steel, increasing both its durability and the evenness of its coat. You can omit this step if you are combining paints that already contain a primer.

Use a gray primer if your paint is dark, and a white primer if it is light. There is less chance of the topcoat penetrating through the primer. Make sure your metal door interior is free of dust, grit, and debris before applying it.

After letting the first coat dry for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer, apply a second coat of primer if you think it's necessary.

Click here to see this primer on Amazon.

Best Practices for Interior Metal Door Painting

Paint any door panels or other difficult-to-reach areas with a roller, then go ahead and apply the metal door paint with the roller or brush.

Aim to paint the surface with several coats, letting each coat dry in between, to get the best finish. Applying multiple thin coats is much less effective than using this method.

You will need to flip the door over to work on the other side if you are using a sawhorse. To avoid damaging the paint, make sure it is completely dry before doing this.

If you've decided to paint the interior metal door while it's still on the hinges in the frame, you should apply one coat of metal door paint, let it dry, and then repeat the process the next day.

When the interior metal door paint is completely dry, it's time to reinstall the hinges, door handles, and other accessories. Reassembling the door prematurely can damage your newly painted surface.

Should You Hire A Professional To Paint Your Door?

A man is painting out door house for maintenance

The products mentioned above are safe to use at home, but they are costly and require a lot of patience and a steady hand. If your metal door has a lead-based paint layer, it is best that you seek professional help.

The removal of lead-based paint and prevention of lead contamination must take place in a carefully controlled environment for safety purposes.

Hiring a professional will cost money, so make sure it fits into your budget. If you are inexperienced at painting, you will most likely achieve better results in a much shorter time frame if you hire a professional.

Final Thoughts

Painting metal can be challenging, and painting an interior metal door requires skill and preparation. Knowing what kind of paints to use will help you weigh your options for what works best.

Seeking professional help will also be beneficial, especially if you need the paint job done as soon as possible.

If you liked this article, you might be interested in these other posts about painting:

How To Paint Latex Over Oil-Based Primer [And Tips For Homeowners]

Can You Reuse Paint Supplies?[Inc. Rollers, Brushes, & Trays]

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