Painting Screen Doors

Screen doors are a classic part of many homes. Often made of wood or metal, they allow airflow and light while keeping out insects. Over time, screen doors can start to look worn or dated. Painting them is an easy way to update their appearance and refresh your home’s curb appeal.

Painting Screen Doors

Can You Paint a Screen Door?

The good news is that both wooden and metal screen doors can be painted. With proper preparation and the right type of paint, you can give your screen door a makeover.

For wooden screen doors, most types of exterior latex or oil-based paints will adhere well and protect from the elements. For metal screen doors, special exterior metal paint is required so the paint will bond correctly. With a few supplies and some elbow grease, a painted screen door can add personality to your home’s entrance.

Preparing a Wooden Screen Door for Painting

Follow these steps to prepare a wooden screen door for a fresh coat of paint:

Remove the Screen

The first step is to remove the actual screening material from the door. This allows you to paint the door frame and all edges fully. Use a screwdriver to gently pop out the spline from the groove along the edges. Be careful not to damage the screen material itself so it can be reused.

Sand the Surface

Lightly sand the entire door using 120-150 grit sandpaper. This helps rough up the surface a bit for the paint to adhere properly. Please pay close attention to any areas of peeling or cracked paint and sand them smooth.

Clean the Door

Give the door a thorough cleaning using a degreaser or TSP substitute to remove any dirt, grease or grime. This promotes better paint adhesion. Rinse well and let the door fully dry.

Fill Any Holes & Cracks

Inspect the door and use exterior wood filler to patch any small holes, dents or cracks for a smooth finish. Allow the filler to dry completely before sanding smooth.

Apply Primer

Priming helps the paint stick to the wood better and last longer. Use an exterior wood primer and apply an even coat to the entire door as well as the edges. Let the primer dry completely before painting.

Once prepped, the wooden screen door is ready for painting!

Preparing a Metal Screen Door for Painting

Follow these steps to get a metal screen door ready for fresh paint:

Remove the Screen

Just like with a wooden door, remove the screen material using a screwdriver to pop out the spline. This allows full access to paint the door frame.

Scuff the Surface

Use 120-150 grit sandpaper to lightly scuff the entire surface of the metal door. This helps the paint better adhere to the slick metal.

Clean and Degrease

Give the metal door a thorough cleaning using a degreaser or TSP substitute. Rinse off any residue and let the surface fully dry.

Apply Primer

It’s critical to use a metal primer so the paint bonds correctly on the metal surface. Apply a uniform coat of metal primer and let dry fully.

Spot Fill Any Holes

Use a metal-specific filler for any small dents, holes or scratches. Allow adequate drying time before sanding smooth.

Once prepped, the metal screen door will be ready for painting with metal paint.

Choosing the Right Exterior Paint

Picking the right type of paint for your screen door is important to get a durable and long-lasting finish.

For Wooden Doors

For wooden screen doors, opt for a high-quality 100% acrylic latex exterior paint. This water-based paint goes on smooth, dries quickly, and provides excellent adhesion and protection from the elements.

Oil-based paints also work well for wood exterior use. While oil paint takes longer to dry and has stronger odor and cleanup, it provides a durable and protective finish.

Avoid using indoor paints on exterior doors – they are not formulated to withstand sun, rain, and temperature changes.

For Metal Doors

Painting metal requires a coating specifically made to adhere to slick metal surfaces. The best bets are alkyd or acrylic-based exterior metal paints. Most come in spray cans for ease of application.

The finish coat can be enamel, semi-gloss, or satin. Match the sheen level to your home’s other exterior paint for the most cohesive look.

Outdoor spray paint for metal, while convenient, may not adhere as well or last as long as brushed metal paint. Make sure to use paint marketed for exterior use only.

How to Paint a Wooden Screen Door

Follow these steps for painting your wooden screen door:

1. Apply First Paint Coat

Use a premium nylon or polyester brush to apply the first coat of exterior latex or oil-based paint. Apply in smooth strokes with the grain of the wood. Get paint into corners and crevices for full coverage.

2. Let Dry & Inspect

Allow the first coat to dry fully as specified by the paint’s instructions. Inspect to ensure you’ve achieved full, even coverage. Spot paint any thin or missed areas.

3. Apply Second Coat

For best protection, durability, and appearance, apply a second coat of paint. Use a fresh paint brush and smooth strokes to distribute the paint evenly.

4. Allow Proper Dry Time

Make sure to let the second coat dry fully before reinstalling the screen material or closing the door. Check paint can for recommended dry times.

5. Add Third Coat if Needed

For a flawless finish, a third coat of paint can be applied. This helps build protection and hide any imperfections for a professional painted look.

6. Reinstall Screen

Once the paint has dried per the manufacturer’s instructions, the screen material can be reinstalled into the door frame. Enjoy your fresh painted screen door!

How to Paint a Metal Screen Door

These steps will give a metal screen door a durable and protective paint finish:

1. Apply Specialty Primer

Use a paintbrush to apply a uniform coat of metal primer over the entire surface. Get into corners and crevices. Allow to dry fully.

2. Lightly Sand Between Coats

Gently sand between coats with fine sandpaper to help each layer of paint bond tightly. Wipe away any dust.

3. Apply First Paint Coat

Using a nylon or polyester brush, apply the first coat of exterior metal paint. Maintain a wet edge and paint smoothly in the same direction.

4. Allow Proper Dry Time

Let the first coat dry fully as specified on the paint can before applying the second coat. Check for thin spots and do touch ups if needed.

5. Apply Second Paint Coat

For complete protection, apply the exterior metal paint for a second coat. Use angled brush strokes to help paint get into grooves.

6. Optional Third Coat

A third coat of paint can help cover any flaws and provide extra durability. Let dry fully before reinstalling the screen.

7. Reattach Screen Material

Once the paint has dried according to the manufacturer’s instructions, put the metal screen material back into the door frame. Enjoy your updated look!

Tips for Painting Screen Doors

Follow these tips and tricks for getting the best painted finish on screen doors:

  • Remove doors from the hinges and frame to make painting easier. Lay flat on sawhorses or across two ladders.
  • Use high density foam rollers and angled brushes to get into corners and edges.
  • Apply paint in thin coats, building up coverage rather than glopping it on thick.
  • Always use high quality exterior paint and the proper primer – don’t try to save money on cheaper paint.
  • Allow each coat of paint to dry fully before adding another coat. Rushing the process can ruin the finish.
  • Paint in dry weather when temperatures are above 50°F. Avoid painting in direct sunlight or if rain is expected.
  • Wear gloves and eye protection when scraping, sanding, or painting. Work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Dispose of used paint brushes properly. Never rinse them down a sink drain.
  • Keep painted doors out of direct sun for the first couple days to allow paint to cure fully.

Paint Color Ideas for Screen Doors

A fresh coat of paint allows you to get creative with screen door colors. Here are some popular paint shades to consider:

  • Black – A classic look, black paint is dramatic against light-colored homes. It also disguises dirt well. Use a paint with heat-reflecting pigments.
  • Red – For a bold entrance, go for a bright cherry red or deeper burgundy shade. It’s warm and eye catching.
  • Blue – From navy to sky blue, this cool color is tranquil and timeless. Soft blue-grays work too.
  • Green – Go for a soothing sage green or vibrant lime for a playful pop of color. Dark emerald is handsome too.
  • Yellow – Cheery shades like lemon yellow, daisy, or soft buttercream inject energy.
  • White – Crisp white is fresh and goes with anything. Use an exterior white for protection.
  • Metallic – A modern twist, metallic grays, bronze, silver, or gold add glamour. Ensure paint has rust protection.
  • Two-Tone – Paint the frame one color and the screen panel another for visual interest. Black frame + red screen is striking.
  • Distressed – Make a vintage statement by distressing new paint to look old. Chip, sand, and dry brush white over top.
  • Stenciled – Use stencils of shapes, designs, or monograms to create a custom stenciled pattern across the screen door.
  • Ombre – Blend two colors together for an ombre fade effect. Flowing from light to dark can be especially pretty.

Don’t limit yourself to just solid colors either. Add interest by painting patterns like stripes, checks, or designs freehand. Contrasting paint sheens like glossy and matte also add dimension.

How to Paint Screen Material

You can also freshen up just the screen material itself with paint. Here’s how:

Use Exterior Spray Paint

Look for spray paints specifically made for use on metal, plastic, or fiberglass screening. Apply a few light coats to avoid drips.

Try Screen Paint

Specialty acrylic screen paints bond well to screening. Some also contain UV blockers to help the color last longer outside.

Tape Off Screen Frame

To avoid getting paint on the door frame, run painter’s tape along the interior edges before spraying. Remove tape immediately after painting.

Enamel Works Too

Exterior enamel spray paints provide a glossy, durable finish on screen material. Just be sure to use a brand designed for outdoor use.

Remove Screen First

For best results, take the screen material out of the frame before painting. This allows full access and avoids drips.

Replacing old ripped screen material with a fresh painted screen gives screen doors an instant facelift!

How to Paint Different Types of Screen Doors

Painting techniques vary slightly depending on the type of screen door:

Wood Screen Doors

  • Use latex or oil-based exterior paint
  • Primer recommended
  • Remove screens and hardware
  • Sand before painting
  • Brush application works best

Metal Screen Doors

  • Use specially formulated exterior metal paint
  • Scuff surface before painting
  • Apply metal primer first
  • Can spray paint or brush apply
  • May require 2-3 coats

Aluminum Screen Doors

  • Clean surface and use metal primer
  • Apply specialty aluminum paint
  • Can spray paint for smooth finish
  • High heat-resistant paint for sun exposure

Vinyl Screen Doors

  • Primer made for plastic important
  • Avoid darker colors which can warp vinyl
  • Spray paint vinyl-specific paint evenly
  • May require special adhesion promoter

Security Screen Doors

  • Follow metal screen door painting (above)
  • Oil-based paints most durable for high traffic area
  • Replace screen material for quick update

Storm Screen Doors

  • Remove hardware and glass first
  • Use latex exterior paint and primer
  • Tape off glass panels to protect them
  • Spray paint hard to reach areas

FAQs About Painting Screen Doors

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about painting screen doors:

Can you use spray paint on a screen door?

You can use spray paint, but brushed paint often adheres better, especially in crevices. Make sure to use exterior spray paint.

How do you paint over a screen door?

You’ll need to remove the screen first. Use exterior spray paint and apply multiple light coats for best coverage.

What kind of paint adheres best to metal screen doors?

Special exterior metal paints stick best to metal surfaces. Apply over a metal primer for maximum adhesion.

Can you paint over powder coated screen doors?

Powder coating is difficult to paint over. It’s best to strip the coating before painting for proper adhesion.

Should you take screen doors off before painting?

Yes, remove them from the hinges if possible for easier access. Lay them flat across sawhorses or ladders to paint.

How long does it take for screen door paint to dry?

Drying times vary by paint type, but often take 1-2 hours between coats. Allow at least 24 hours before regular use.

How much paint do you need to paint a screen door?

Plan on at least 1 quart of paint for one coat on a standard sized screen door. Buy more if applying multiple coats.


Painting screen doors is an easy weekend project that can give your home entrance a fast mini-makeover. With the proper prep and painting steps, you can get a durable and long-lasting finish. Carefully painting metal screen doors requires more meticulous attention compared to wood, but either can be updated with paint.

Choosing a fresh color like red, green, blue, or black allows you to add personality and customize your home’s style. Beyond just color, you can also paint fun patterns or designs using stencils or freehand painting.

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