How to Paint French Doors

Painting French doors
What You'll Need
Razor blade
Painter's tape
Wood putty

French doors have numerous perks. Not only do they add class and charm to a room, but also they let in a lot of light through their glass panes. Generally, French doors are double doors with large windows divided into many panes. The narrow, wooden framing between each pane are called muntins. Because of all the glass, new painters often have trouble painting the muntins in French doors. However, painting French doors is a simple project you can complete over a weekend if you have the right techniques.

Step 1 – Remove the Doors and Lay on Sawhorses

Remove the doors from the hinges before painting to keep the doors steady while you work and give you easy access to all muntins between panes. Lay down a plastic sheet on the area you will be working, and then place two sawhorses over the plastic sheet. Place one of the French doors across the sawhorses for a flat, clean working area.

Step 2 – Remove Hardware

Next, remove all of the hardware from the door. This hardware includes the hinges, handles, and any other metal fittings. Check the hinges for any wear, and buy replacements to install if need be.

Step 3 – Use Wood Putty

Use wood putty to fill in any scratches or holes on the door. Once the putty has dried, use sandpaper to smooth out any bumps on the surface, and blend the putty with the wood. Use a damp cloth to take off any paint or wood dust.

Step 4 – Use Painter’s Tape

Now, tape off the glass panes with painter's tape to prevent getting paint on the glass. Leave a tiny gap between the wood and tape, so that 1/16 inch of glass is exposed.

Step 5 – Prime the Door

Warning: When using paint or primer, wear the appropriate safety gear to avoid skin contact or inhalation of fumes.

To get the best results, you should prime your French doors before painting them. Carefully paint a door with primer and wait for it to dry. Paint as precisely as you can, in long strokes that follow the direction of the wood. Use up-and-down motions for the vertical pieces, and back-and-forth motions for the horizontal. Allow the paint to fill that 1/16 inch gap between the muntin and the tape to help seal the glass in place and prevent any air leaks.

Repeating the Process

While the first door is drying, prime the other door. Don’t forget to get both sides of the doors. If you're painting over a bold color, you may need to repeat this process with two coats of primer.

Step 6 – Apply Paint

Once the primer is dry, you can paint the French doors with your chosen color of paint. Use the same technique you used for priming the doors to paint them. Wait for the paint to dry, and then apply a second coat. Once dry, repeat the process on the other sides of the doors.

Step 7 – Apply Sealant

For doors that face the outdoors, apply a varnish or weatherproof sealant according to the product’s directions. The sealant will protect the paint color from rain, sun, and snow.

Step 8 – Finish Up

When the paint and sealer are dry, replace all the hardware you removed. Use a razor blade to help lift the painter's tape off the glass, and then check over your work to see if you need to make any touch-ups. Once you’re satisfied with the finished product, hang the French doors back in place. Be sure to allow for sufficient drying time before you hang the doors.