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6 Minute Read

How to Paint a Metal Garage Door in 7 Simple Steps

You can paint your metal garage door in just a day. This DIY project is surprisingly simple, requiring just a bit of planning and a few materials.

gray painted garage door

The condition of your garage door can make or break your home’s curb appeal. If your garage is stained, rusting, or peeling, it might be time to cover it with a fresh coat of paint to match your home’s color scheme

Painting a metal garage door is a pretty easy DIY project, and it will only need about a day to dry. This investment goes beyond looks, potentially increasing your home’s value and offering long-lasting weatherproofing.

With materials from your local hardware store and some planning, you can do the project yourself. Read on to learn how to paint a metal garage door in seven simple steps.

Watch our video on How to Paint a Metal Garage Door 👆

Materials You’ll Need

To make the painting process as simple and safe as possible, gather the following materials before you begin:

PaintFume-rated maskBucket and sponge
Painter’s tapeSafety glassesSanding block
Paintbrush setDrop cloths
Paint stirring sticksRags
Paint thinnerLadder
Roller brush handle and headsSugar soap solution and sponge
Roller trayMasking tape or decorator’s tape
Metal primer
Sprayer (optional)

A primer isn’t always necessary for new metal doors that come primed. And if you want to paint faster, you can use a sprayer instead of a paintbrush or roller—just keep in mind that heavy winds can interfere with the spray pattern, leading to uneven coverage.

How to Paint a Metal Garage Door

Follow the steps below to revamp the look of your garage door.

    seven steps to paint your garage door

1. Wait for Good Weather

It’s important to wait for ideal weather conditions before beginning a paint job. If it’s raining, over 90 degrees, or very windy, you may experience issues with drying. Ideally, you want the temperature to fall between 50 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Sand the Surface

First, remove any old paint on your door by sanding the surface. Gather your scraper, stiff wire brush, and a sanding block to scrub off the old coat.

3. Wash and Rinse

Once your door’s surface is smooth, you’re ready to give it a wash. 

Use dish soap and water or a sugar soap solution to scrub away any dirt, rust, or grease from the entire surface, including the edges and hinges. This cleaning step creates a smooth base for the paint to adhere to properly.

When finished, rinse off the soapy residue with water and dry the surface with a rag. Allow the door to dry completely before proceeding.

4. Unplug Your Garage

If your garage door is automatic, it’s best to unplug it and pull the safety release chain so you can adjust its position manually.

5. Tape off Your Door

Tape off any areas of your door that you don’t want to get paint or primer on using masking or decorator’s tape. This probably includes your windows, gaskets, trim, and handles. To avoid paint drips on the concrete, lay out a tarp or drop cloth.

6. Apply Metal Primer

If your door isn’t already primed, do so now before applying paint. Use your paintbrush, a roller, or a sprayer to apply a coating to each panel, making sure to get in between each indent and crevice. Wait until the primer is dry before you begin painting. Slightly open your garage door to make sure your panels don’t stick together.

For any areas with rust, use a wire brush to remove any loose particles and apply a rust-inhibiting primer to those areas.

7. Paint from Top to Bottom

Once you’ve stirred your paint and prepared your brushes, it’s time to apply the first coat. Start from the top right panel and work your way down until you’re finished. This could take a couple of hours if your door is larger than a two-car garage.

Paint one panel at a time until you reach the hinges. Generally, brushes are the better choice to paint the details of a metal door. Rollers can do the job faster, but you’ll likely still need a brush for complete coverage.

From there, lift the garage door, so you have more space to move and can be more precise with your brush application. After applying paint to the edges, you’re done.

If your door isn’t fully covered by the first coat of paint, wait for it to dry before applying another coat. Remember to let the paint cure for at least 12 hours between coats—the exact time depends on the size of your garage. If you’re using an oil-based paint, it will take much longer to dry than an acrylic latex paint.

Best Metal Garage Door Paint Options

The ideal paint for a garage door will resist fading and peeling while bonding reliably to the metal surface. Acrylic latex and oil-based paints are two options that do this well and offer superior durability and adhesion. To further enhance the protection of your garage door, consider opting for a gloss or semi-gloss finish.

Acrylic Latex Paint

  • Mild odor
  • Non-yellowing
  • Fast drying time
  • Resistant to fading
  • Various finishes
  • May require multiple coats
  • Less durable than oil-based paints

Acrylic latex exterior paint is the most commonly used paint for metal garage doors. It’s simple to maintain, fast to dry, non-yellowing, resistant to fading over time, and bonds easily to metal surfaces. 

It also comes in a variety of finishes, such as gloss and satin, which will protect your surface from scrapes and scratches. One coat of paint is usually enough, but consider a second coat if you’re painting a lighter color over a darker shade.

Oil-based Paint

  • Durable, hard
  • Moisture-resistant
  • Typically only requires one coat
  • Better stain coverage
  • High levels of VOCs
  • Strong odor
  • May yellow or oxidize
  • Takes longer to dry

Oil-based paint is more rust- and stain-resistant than acrylic latex varieties, but may yellow or oxidize over time. Since it’s more durable, it takes longer to dry, sometimes over a day. Oil-based paints also emit high levels of VOCs, which can negatively impact the environment, your health, and your garage’s air quality.

We recommend acrylic latex exterior paint for your garage door, but if durability is your priority, then you may consider using oil-based paint instead.

Pro Tip: If you use an acrylic latex paint, you should use a water-based primer to match. If you use an oil-based paint, you should use an oil-based primer.

Gloss or Semi-Gloss

A gloss or semi-gloss paint is the best finish for a metal garage door. These finishes dry hard, creating a durable barrier against scratches, scuffs, and even harsh weather conditions. Plus, their smooth surface is easy to clean.

For maximum durability and easy cleaning, choose gloss. It provides the most shine for a sleek, modern garage door. 

If the door has minor imperfections you’d like to hide, opt for semi-gloss. It offers outstanding durability and easy cleaning without the high gloss look.

Choosing a Garage Door Primer

Quality primers will help cover up old stains, bond your paint to your door’s surface, and prevent rust and corrosion over time. You can either use a water-based or oil-based primer.

Water-based primers are easier to clean, dry faster, and release less VOCs than oil-based primers, so they’re usually the best choice unless using an oil-based paint.

You can technically mix and match primer and paint types, but to keep it simple, you may want to match oil-based primers with oil-based paints and water-based primers with water-based paints. 

Just know that water-based paints shouldn’t be applied on a layer of oil-based paint and vice versa. Doing so could lead to cracked and peeling paint.

Final Takeaways

Adding a fresh coat of paint to your garage door can brighten the look of your home and increase its curb appeal. With some occasional maintenance, your new paint job will last years to come. 

Since garage door costs can be expensive, proper care protects them from the elements and preserves their operation.

That said, when you order a metal garage from Alan’s Factory Outlet, we will take care of the paint job for you. Simply design your garage according to your ideal colors and dimensions with our 3D customizing tool below.

Profile picture of Alan Bernau Jr

Alan Bernau Jr

Alan Bernau Jr. is the founder and owner of Alan’s Factory Outlet. He has helped more than 75,000 homeowners design and install custom carports and garages over the last 20 years.

Alan Bernau Jr. is the founder and owner of Alan’s Factory Outlet. He has helped more than 75,000 homeowners design and install custom carports and garages over the last 20 years.

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