Painting interior doors and trim
July 3, 2017 2:12 PM   Subscribe

What do I need to do to get an excellent smooth finish if I DIY paint an interior door?

I have a newly-installed French Door in my house that needs to be painted (along with the associated trim). It's currently just primed from the manufacturer, and the glass is masked off. I've been planning to hire a professional painter to do it, but my normal guy isn't available for a while, and I'm starting to feel like I'm being silly for waiting weeks and paying someone to do something that should be relatively simple. But I'd only want to do this myself if I can make it look great.

I have painted house interiors before, so I'm not completely clueless, but I really want this to look nice, and in the past I've found it hard to get these types of surfaces to look good and not have brush strokes. Is it even possible to do this well without spraying? If so, what is the technique I should use? I think I'd really rather not spray, not only because I don't have the equipment, but also the amount of masking I'd need to do in the adjoining rooms if there's going to be paint in the air...

Or should I just bite the bullet and wait for the pros to come handle it?

Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
posted by primethyme to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can't tell you how to go from good to great, but I can tell you from experience that one fail point is using too much paint and having drips.

I think brush marks are most visible with high gloss paint, so I'd go semi-gloss at most.
posted by slidell at 2:36 PM on July 3


Using Floetrol and a high-quality brush with thin layers of paint will help too.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 2:43 PM on July 3 [4 favorites]


At this point in time, I'm beginning to appreciate that brushstrokes are a sign of effort and time. What you don't want are thick and runny brushstrokes. So it's better to apply many thin layers of paint than 2 thickish layers.
First of all you need to clean the surface down very thoroughly, even though it is new. Then you can apply an extra layer of primer to make the paint stick better — it will also reduce the number of layers you need to do.
Now you need the best quality paint, thinned only in the amount you need for one layer at a time - it doesn't keep well when it is thinned. Also the best quality brush. Ask for advice about both at the most professional store you can find in your neighborhood. Go for as matt a paint as you can tolerate, maybe more on the inside of the door than the outside, as slidell said, it's easier to get nice with a brush.
Then what you want is to keep the surface wet in wet while you are painting, and to avoid droplets. Have a piece of cloth to dry your brush in if you can't find a place to move your wet paint to. Keep the brush going in the same direction - top down and left to right. Let it dry (doesn't have to be completely dry, actually), and repeat until the surface is completely covered.

If you want to do other colors than white or black, it can be very nice to insert layers of different colors. For instance a thin layer of brown in between layers of red.

For organic and sustainable paint, if you can find a store that can help you, using linseed oil as the binder gives beautiful surfaces and it's really good for your timber. This is a random page I found using google, just to give you an idea

Another possibility is to take off the door, mask off the glass and spray paint it in your yard (or get a professional to do that). You may be able to rent the spray machine at your paint shop. The same rules apply, though: clean and prime well, it will be nicer if it is many thin layers rather than two thick layers, and only use the best quality matt paint.

I'm trying to pull myself together to do this several places in my house and making this to do list has been helpful. Thanks.
posted by mumimor at 2:50 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


When I did my wooden sash windows, I used a paint pad. It gave a nice finish.

It helps if your surfaces are flat rather than moulded, and you may still have to use a brush to fill in the bits around the keyhole, handle, etc.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:53 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


As mumimor mentioned, brush strokes aren't necessarily a bad thing. I once worked for a high-end painting company, and there was one customer who payed a premium for us to paint the trim by brush instead of (faster, more uniform) spray.

Get a smaller, angled brush. And pay a bit extra for a higher-end brush, it really makes a difference.
posted by reeddavid at 4:28 PM on July 3


I just did what felt like miles of doors and trim. For me, the paint pads Pallas Athena recommends made for the nicest and most even results.
posted by mochapickle at 4:46 PM on July 3


I'm an experienced painter. The last thing I'd ever want to paint is a multi-paned window or french door, because it's all edges. But when I used to do it I:

-- put a coat of primer on top of factory prime coat
-- sanded with 200 or 220 after priming and between coats of paint
-- removed dust with a tack cloth
-- used a Purdy or Corona brush with angled bristles
-- used high-quality paint
-- added a paint conditioner (Floetrol for water-based paint, Penetrol for oil)

I didn't use masking tape. Instead, I removed paint from the glass with a razor blade while the paint was still wet, and wiped the blade on a rag. (Dry rag if oil paint, water-dampened rag if water-based.) It's a lot less frustrating than scraping dry paint off .

I was about to try to explain how to get straight, shallow brush marks without drips, but then I realized that if you're a first-time painter, you're very unlikely to be happy with your own painting of this excessively fussy type of job. Seriously, I'd paint 3 rooms with simple trim but pay someone else to do a french door.

tl:dr: Hire a pro.
posted by wryly at 4:59 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


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