coloured stripe

Painting, decorating and home improvement tips blog

How to paint a panel door?

Posted by Adrian
May 6th, 2009

Diagram of panel door and numbered sequence for painting (copyrignt Adrian Rayfield)
This tip applies to both interior and exterior panelled doors, it doesn’t matter how many panels there are, whether it be a 1, 2, 4 or 6 panelled door, the principle is the same.

The first job is to remove the door furniture such as handles, letterbox, knocker etc, now cover the floor. The next job is to remove any loose paint as well as any dirt and grime. Next rub the door down, depending on the surface you are painting over and its condition 80-grit sandpaper will be fine. Rub down, going in the direction of the grain, if you have an internal ‘grain effect’ door be careful not to rub too hard!

Once you have ‘keyed’ the surface with the sand / glass paper dust off the surface. If the door has any bare wood showing you will need to use the appropriate primer. Once the primer is dry you can paint the door with a suitable undercoat, finally the finish coat (gloss or satinwood etc) of your choice.

So what order do I paint the panel door?

OK, here is the order to paint your panel door:

  1. Paint the door edge, you should always paint the edge you will see if the door is open. Number 1 in diagram. If it is an exterior door you should also paint the top of the door, and the bottom if you can.
  2. Paint the panels. Numbers 2-7 in diagram.
  3. Paint the top mullion and rail, numbers 8 and 9 in diagram, and work through all mullions and rails finishing with the bottom rail. Number 14 in diagram.
  4. Finally paint the two stiles. Numbers 15 and 16 in diagram.
  5. If you are using gloss, check to ensure the paint hasn’t run off the panels, if there are runs simply brush them out with a dry brush.
  6. You should now have a newly painted door!


Stiles: vertical parts
Mullion: vertical parts between panels
Rails: horizontal parts
Panels: moulded ‘inset’ shaped areas

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Decorating Tips | 12 Comments »

12 Responses to “How to paint a panel door?”

  1. Eddie Says:

    Good post.

    Before removing the door handle, don’t forget to wedge open the door to avoid getting stuck in the room!


    Date posted : August 20th, 2009 at 10:45 pm
  2. Adrian Says:

    Good point, unless of course you have already removed the latch or lock and keep.

    Wedging the door open though may help whilst painting the door by stopping it moving around.

    Date posted : August 21st, 2009 at 7:47 am
  3. Dave Says:

    Be careful when wedging the door open, when you remove the wedge; do so gently, or you may end up splitting the wood. Look out for runs at the top of each panel and bottom corners of each moulding, these runs can be removed by gently stippling in to the corners with an unloaded brush, other runs are best removed by running an unloaded brush upwards against the drip.

    Date posted : November 21st, 2009 at 8:14 pm
  4. Adrian Says:

    If you found this tip useful, you may like these two also:
    How to paint a flush door :
    How to paint a glass panelled door :

    Date posted : January 11th, 2010 at 7:30 pm
  5. Paul Says:

    As you pointed out there is a particular way in which to paint a door. Also the more time you spend on prep the better.

    Date posted : January 19th, 2013 at 8:13 am
  6. Thomas83514 Says:

    I like this website, it is really ace and I painted my door last summer very successfully. And got a nicely painted door which my family enjoy walking through and it makes our house look a lot more special.

    Date posted : March 4th, 2016 at 9:53 am
  7. Connie Williams Says:

    Thank you very much for these tips.

    Is it necessary to put tape on the edges of the glass panels to prevent getting paint on the glass, especially between the panes?

    Date posted : June 13th, 2016 at 5:22 pm
  8. Adrian Says:


    It isn’t essential to tape around the glass, it depends on if you are confident on painting around the glass.

    Date posted : June 14th, 2016 at 1:25 pm
  9. Penguin Says:

    These tips helped me paint my door, very useful.

    Date posted : November 3rd, 2016 at 2:05 pm
  10. Lasb Says:

    Very good website, millions of helpful information thank you!

    Date posted : January 12th, 2017 at 10:07 am
  11. Sharon Says:

    So what if you have two very long panels on the door? Do you paint the indented edges first all the way down and around? Doesn’t it get too tacky when you go to do the flat section of the panel?

    Date posted : May 16th, 2021 at 8:24 pm
  12. admin Says:

    Yes I would paint the indented edges first, If you are quick or using an oil based paint there is no problem, water based dries quicker but still should be OK.

    Date posted : May 17th, 2021 at 1:15 pm

Leave a Comment


My Paintbrush logo