How to Paint a Garage Door (and Maintain It Too)

Give your home a facelift with this DIY garage door update

Kristin Salaky
Written by Kristin Salaky
Updated June 7, 2022
Black garage door at a modern home
Photo: karamysh / Adobe Stock


Turn an idea into an I-did-it.


$50 to $100

You’ll wonder why everyone doesn’t do this themselves.

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What you'll need:


  • Paintbrush
  • ¾-inch paint roller
  • Stool or ladder
  • Scrub brush
  • Sponge
  • Rags
  • Drop cloths
  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • Mask
  • Hose


  • Sandpaper
  • All-purpose cleaning spray
  • Painter’s tape
  • Latex exterior primer
  • Latex exterior paint
  • Paint tray

Looking for a home improvement project that won’t take weeks, a hefty budget, or a team of pros? Updating your garage door with a fresh coat of paint will instantly improve your curb appeal. What’s more, you can do it yourself with the help of a few handy supplies and this step-by-step guide. 

Depending on the size of your garage door, you can likely complete this project in a day or two. It’s an affordable project too—paint and supplies may cost between $50 and $100. For a more detailed cost breakdown, refer to our garage door painting cost guide. Just remember to factor in plenty of drying time for your garage door paint—and keep a close eye on the weather.

How to Paint a Garage Door in 7 Easy Steps

  1. Check the Weather

    Before you start painting your garage door, check the weather. 

    The best painting weather is between 50 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with low humidity and limited direct sunlight. Try to find two or three consecutive days of cool, dry weather so both coats of paint have plenty of time to dry.

  2. Scrape and Sand the Door

    Taking the time to prep your garage door will guarantee a high-quality paint job. 

    • First, put on your gloves, mask, and safety goggles.

    • Use a wire brush to scrape the garage door and remove any dust, dirt, rust, or chipped paint. 

    • After brushing the entire door, use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the door.

  3. Wash the Door

    Washing your garage door before painting may seem time-consuming, but it will help the paint adhere to the door more easily for a smooth, seamless finish. 

    • Liberally spray the closed garage door with an all-purpose cleaner. 

    • Use a sponge to scrub the door gently, taking care not to apply too much pressure. 

    • Stubborn stains may require another light pass with your wire brush. 

    • After removing all the dirt and grime, rinse your garage door.

    • Wipe the door down with clean rags and let it air dry for an hour or two until the surface is totally dry. 

  4. Tape the Garage Door

    Person taping garage door and laying plastic before painting
    Photo: M.Dörr & M.Frommherz / Adobe Stock

    Exterior paint is just as messy as interior paint. To prevent extra clean-up, use painter’s tape and drop cloths to cover the surrounding area. 

    • Tape off the garage door frame and any keypads, handles, or locks with heavy-duty tape. 

    • Use drop cloths or plastic to cover your driveway and garage floor.

  5. Prime the Door

    You’ve done most of the heavy lifting and it’s almost time to paint. But first, disconnect your garage’s automatic opening mechanism. Doing so will allow you to open and close the door manually as you prime and paint. 

    • Stir your exterior primer thoroughly, then pour a small amount into a clean paint tray. 

    • If your garage door has insets, prime these panels first. Use a small amount of paint to prevent drips and ensure a smooth finish. 

    • Next, use your brush or a paint roller to paint the rest of the door panels. Remember to paint between the garage door panels, too. 

    • Once you’ve covered the door and wiped away any drips or splatters, let the primer dry for about 12 hours.

  6. Paint the Door

    Painter painting a garage door with a brush
    Photo: Alikaj2582 / Getty Images

    After your primer has dried completely, it’s time to finish the job. Start with your garage door open and begin painting the bottom panels first. Then, slowly lower the garage door to paint the middle and upper sections. Finally, use a step-stool or ladder to paint the top. 

    • Paint flat surfaces with a roller. A small roller makes paint jobs a breeze. Make sure you don’t overload the roller, though. Otherwise, you’ll have to clean up drips. 

    Use a brush for recessed or obscured parts. Once you’ve covered most of your garage door, take a step back to survey your work. Depending on the design, you may need to use a paintbrush to get even coverage in all the nooks and crannies.

  7. Apply the Second Coat and Touch-Up the Frame

    You can almost cross this project off your to-do list. But first, take a close look at your paint job. 

    • Allow the paint to dry overnight before opening your garage door to prevent any scuffs or scrapes. 

    • Leave the painter’s tape in place and allow the first coat to dry for 12 hours. If you notice any uneven patches or hints of the old color, you may need to apply a second coat. Then, apply the second coat and let it dry overnight as well.

Additional Questions About Painting Garage Doors

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

If you’re planning to paint a garage door, we recommend using high-quality acrylic latex exterior paint. Both gloss and semi-gloss finishes work well but avoid matte paint. It doesn’t dry as hard and may scuff or scrape more easily. 

Do you need to prime a garage door before painting? 

You don’t necessarily need to prime a garage door before painting. However, primer improves adhesion and will help your new paint look fresh for longer. If you’re short on time, consider choosing paint with an added primer. 

What color should you paint a garage door?

Most of the time, homeowners paint their garage doors the same color as their home’s exterior or opt for white. However, times—and unspoken rules—have changed. 

With that in mind, you can paint your garage door whatever color you like. If you’re not sure where to start, consider a few popular options like dark gray, walnut brown, navy, and black. 

How do you paint an old, wooden garage door? 

Painting an older wooden garage door is similar to painting a new, metal garage door. Start by scraping, sanding, and cleaning your wooden door. Tape off any windows and handles, then apply a coat of primer. Once the primer has dried completely, use a brush, roller, or paint sprayer to apply an even coat of paint. 

How long does a painted garage door last?

With proper maintenance, a painted garage door can last between five and 10 years. With that said, preparation goes a long way on any home improvement project. Scraping, washing, and priming your garage door can extend the life of your paint and reduce the number of touch-ups required over the next decade or so. 

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