When your front door – the focal point of your dwelling – is painted in an opaque, even finish, it beautifies your entire home. And a high-quality paint will also protect it from the elements. Indeed, there’s a paint to suit every door and its needs.
Paints come in a mind-boggling variety of types and kinds – that is a fact. As a result, selecting the right one for a painting project is not an easy task. All too often initial enthusiasm turns to disappointment soon after the paint job is completed. Our goal in this review is to make it as easy as 1-2-3 for you to match paint to your door-painting project.
Paints for doors are either water-based or oil-based. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Water-based paints will go on much easier, and cleaning up afterwards is also very easy. In general, they are usually also less expensive than oil-based paints, all other things being equal. On the other hand, a single coat of water-based paint is seldom satisfactory and it is difficult to get a true glossy finish.
Oil-based paints are more difficult to use and cleaning up afterwards is not quick or easy. They may also yellow with age. In general they are also costlier. However, you can get an opaque and even finish with only one coat, and these paints leave a shiny gloss finish. They are also more weather-resistant.
There is much more to slice and dice than the base of the paint, though.
Some paints are better suited for exterior doors or the exterior of a front door because they are tougher, more protective, and more weather-resistant, while a few should be used only for exterior doors because they have a pungent, even noxious, odour and contain dangerous chemicals. Other paints are better suited for interior doors because they have a smoother finish, go on easily, or are available in a very wide range of hues. Then there’s the material. Which paint is best for a wooden door and which for metal? Or uPVC?
Properties and Characteristics
In order to home in on the best possible paint for a particular door-painting project, we have to take numerous properties and characteristics into account, besides the paint’s base. The general strengths and weaknesses of oil-based and water-based paints are spelt out above. Underneath we look into each paint’s particular properties and characteristics.
First, we consider the range of colours and also the tones. One or two brands’ tones are mostly subdued and muted while a couple of other brands are more inclined towards bright and vibrant. Second, we look into the suitability of the paint to the material. Next, we consider the odour. Is it a ‘normal’ paint smell? Or something intolerable? Then we get into priming and coats. For one or two paints, just a single coat is sufficient while for another you’ll need three.
Moving on to the actual painting, first, the consistency of the paint. One or two are so thick as to be gloopy while another may be the consistency of milk. Then we consider how easily it ‘goes on’ because paints are funny things: some are such that only an experienced pro can get a smooth, even finish while others are such that even granny could lay them on. Next, we ask how fast or slowly the paint dries. Then there’s the finish – how smooth and clean it looks, plus its type. Penultimately, we consider the weathering properties and durability. Finally, we look into coverage.
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As for price, underneath we provide a few FYIs on this all-important criterion as well.
Johnstone’s paint smells and is super-slow to dry but in durability and coverage it scores ‘A’s; as for that dense, opaque, and glossy finish – wow!
Johnstone’s oil-based Weatherguard Exterior paint is available in a brilliant ‘Victory Red,’ White, Black, and numerous colours including browns, blues, and greens, the majority of which are of muted, slate tones.
It is meant for ‘exterior wood, metal and plastic’ including uPVC. Absolutely first-class for wooden doors, it is excellent for garden furniture too.
You don’t have to use an undercoat with Johnstone’s Weatherguard Exterior Gloss but it’s smarter to do so. Use an undercoat on bare wood to get a shiny gloss or to enhance durability. Otherwise two coats of this paint will do the job.
It has a strong smell that takes time to dissipate.
This paint is quite thick and requires a really good stir. It is of just the right consistency to go on very well but it can run a bit if you’re careless.
You’ll need to get out those ‘Do Not Touch – Wet Paint’ signs because this one’s a really slooow drier. Drying takes 4 to 8 hours and it becomes tacky before it dries.
The final result is a very rich colour with high density and opacity. As for the finish, it is exceptionally smooth and glossy. What’s more it weathers very well, withstands rain and heat, and demonstrates outstanding durability. Johnstone’s tag-line ‘6-Year Life’ is not remotely exaggerated; you may even get 7 or 8 years if you do the job right.
Coverage is excellent, and is rated at 11 square metres per 750-millilitre tin.
Johnstone’s Weatherguard Exterior Gloss is our top pick for wooden doors, wooden windows, and especially for wooden front doors.
- Outstanding finish – dense, opaque, and high gloss.
- Exceptionally durable paint that lasts for several years.
- Excellent coverage.
- Has a strong smell.
- Unusually slow to dry; takes several hours.
Dulux WeatherShield’s price may be high and coverage middling but the colour range is unmatched, no primer is needed, and it’s the easiest to apply.
Dulux makes its well-known WeatherShield product in different forumulations. MultiSurface Quick-Dry is a water-based paint that is available in Satin and Gloss finishes in a few whites to a couple of blacks with many shades of cream and grey in between, plus an astonishing array of colours in muted as well as bright tones.
It is meant for ‘uPVC, Wood, and Metal’ and is ideal for metal and uPVC. Indeed, on these surfaces you don’t need a primer so Dulux’s marketing claim ‘no Primer/Undercoat Required’ is an accurate one. Two coats – perhaps even one – of this ‘easy’ paint will suffice.
It does not smell much at all and is a good choice for those who cannot stand strong, unpleasant odours.
Of a thickish consistency, this paint goes on really well and it is among the easiest to apply. In drying time too it’s a ‘well-behaved’ paint, not standing out one way or another.
It leaves a smooth satin finish, and colours are very true and have decent opacity though for a very dense and opaque finish you will need to apply three coats.
WeatherShield MultiSurface Quick-Dry weathers well; its flexible paint film is quite durable and should last for several years. This water-based paint is also easy to clean.
One 750-millilitre can is rated to cover 7.5 square metres, and coverage is average, perhaps good.
Dulux WeatherShield MultiSurface is expensive, and for a water-based paint it is very expensive. But then, it’s a famous brand that tried and tested, and it is perfect for metal and uPVC doors.
- Available in a remarkably wide range of shades and all manner of colour tones.
- Does not need a primer on some surfaces.
- Goes on effortlessly; one of the easiest to apply.
- Very expensive, particularly for a water-based paint.
- Coverage is middling.
While Ronseal is less than tough and needs a varnish, it is virtually odourless, gives excellent coverage, and is a top value buy for wood frames.
Ronseal 10 Year Weatherproof is a water-based paint. At present it is available in a total of 18 colours from White in both Gloss and Satin finishes through Greys to Black, including a few blues and a Royal Red.
It is meant for smooth planed wood, from bare to painted. Primer is not strictly necessary but two coats of paint are a must while three are better. In addition, a clear sealant or varnish topcoat is most advisable.
Smell is not an issue with this water-based formulation and so it is very suitable for interiors.
Of a medium consistency that cannot be called either thick or thin, this paint is very easy to apply and also very easy to clean up. It dries in about an hour.
It leaves a good finish. The clarity of its colours deserves a mention, and even when the colour is not true it is still a very pleasing hue.
Ronseal 10 Year Weatherproof really is ‘weatherproof;’ it stands up very well to adverse weather and lasts for several years. However, now and then it cracks and blisters. Where Ronseal is deficient is in toughness. Minor knocks and bumps, or rough handling of surfaces, will cause this paint to get nicked and chip off. As such, it cannot be called durable.
Ronseal provides a 10-year guarantee against cracking, peeling, and blistering but it should be taken with a pinch of salt.
A 750-millilitre can is rated to cover 8 square metres with two coats. Coverage is quite excellent. It is also available in large 2.5-litre cans.
Ronseal’s pocket-friendly Weatherproof paint is very inexpensive and is an automatic choice when you have many wooden doors and window shutters to paint. It is the best value for money.
- Virtually no smell makes it a very good choice for interior doors and windows.
- Really excellent coverage.
- Not only is it inexpensive, it is a wonderful value for money.
- Can’t get away with only one coat or without applying a varnish topcoat.
- Lacking in toughness, it is prone to getting chipped.
‘Fascinating’ just nails Anthracite Grey; while it is smelly and hard to apply, you can tune the finish though it is sure to be even and opaque.
Among various heat-resistant and other highly specialised paints, Fascinating Finishes makes an oil-based one for front doors in Anthracite Grey. Their other paints are available in numerous shades of off-white, cream, brown, and grey.
It is suitable for wood, metal, and uPVC. Though it is best applied over an undercoat of primer, just two coats of this paint alone work out very well if you’re working on wood that has previously been painted or even on uPVC. Bare wood or metal should be primed first.
It has quite a pungent smell.
Fascinating Finishes’s Front Door Paint has a very thick consistency but you still need to take care that it does not run. It is not easy to apply; it is an ultra-fast-drying oil-based paint so you have to work fast and know the right painting technique. No need to worry about ‘Wet Paint’ signs when using this one.
Satin or glossy? It’s your call. On metal you’ll get a satin finish with one coat and a glossy one with three.
It positively nails a hard, Anthracite Grey shade (RAL 7016). A painted door ends up looking like that is its natural colour. The shade and the paint’s finish transform a door and also make it look rugged.
It is rated to ‘protect for 5 years’ and is fairly hard-wearing and has good durability.
A 500-millilitre tin covers 6 to 7 square metres; coverage is excellent.
Whatever the material, if you like an even, opaque, hard grey, there’s only one game in town: Fascinating Finishes.
- Just about the most even, opaque, and precise Anthracite Grey.
- Control over satin versus glossy finish.
- Wears well and is quite durable.
- Has rather a pungent smell.
- Difficult to apply; you need to know the right technique.
Loaded with big pros and cons, Rust-Oleum has an awful smell and isn’t at all tough but has lovely colours, great coverage, and leaves a top finish.
One of the most popular paints of all, Rust-Oleum Universal is an oil-based formulation. It is available in a few whites to a few blacks, taking in numerous colours in between, most notably several brilliant and rich hues such as ‘Canary Yellow,’ ‘Cardinal Red,’ and ‘Sunset Orange,’ which really ‘pop.’
This ‘paint and primer in one’ is meant to be ‘applied directly on wood, metal, plastics, ceramics.’ However, it is best suited for exterior doors and all metal surfaces, and is ideal for exterior metal surfaces. For a first coat on wood it should be diluted in 10-percent spirit. Non-ferrous metals should be primed before application.
It has an unpleasant – even a somewhat noxious – odour and contains toxic components. We recommend that this paint not be used indoors, especially in smaller rooms with limited ventilation. It should not be used by those who are prone to allergic reactions.
This paint is of a relatively thin consistency. It needs to be stirred well.
With respect to application, you can choose whether to apply it with a brush or a roller; it is even better applied with a paint sprayer. The paint is thinnish, and its runny, drippy nature and its fast-drying characteristics mean it is quick but not so simple to apply – you have to work fast and with good technique.
It dries very quickly in about one hour and no more than two.
Rust-Oleum Universal Gloss leaves a superb, even, semi-gloss finish that cannot be faulted.
However, it gets scratched or marked if the surface gets knocked or bumped. It is not hard-wearing or tough so it is not the best buy for surfaces that will undergo regular contact-based wear and tear.
A 750-millilitre can will cover about 7 square metres but subjectively it has excellent coverage that exceeds expectations. This desirable attribute makes it a sharp value for money.
Rust-Oleum Universal is a very good choice for all exterior remote-controlled doors, like garage doors, and for other exterior doors and hatches, such as those for meter boxes, that will not see significant wear and tear.
- Large and varied range of colours.
- Superb semi-gloss finish – a little satin, a little gloss.
- Excellent coverage makes it a wonderful value for money.
- Not tough or hard-wearing, it can get nicked and scratched.
- Seriously terrible odour.
- Difficult to apply; you need to know the right technique.
You need at least two coats of Rustins and density is still sub-par but it is smell-free, non-toxic, and the hues are the most cheery and vibrant.
Rustins Small Job Gloss is a very popular water-based paint. Besides the obligatory white and black, this paint is available in several colours in brilliant, even vivid, tones, among which are ‘Poppy,’ ‘Buttercup,’ and ‘Buckingham Green.’ Even the pastel colours, like ‘Candy Pink’ and ‘Magnolia,’ are striking and cheery.
The company says that this paint is ‘ideal to use on children’s toys’ and ‘conforms to the toys (safety) regulations.’ It is good for wood, metal, and most other surfaces. However, it will need to be applied over a primer or other undercoat. At least two coats, probably three, of this paint will be required.
It doesn’t smell much at all.
Its consistency is among the thinnest, not dissimilar to milk; it is drippy and runny.
Rustins Small Job Gloss goes on easily enough but you have to be very careful about runs and drips and also be aware of its fast-drying nature. Good painting technique is called for. It dries very quickly, in about an hour.
The finish does not have good density or opacity at all (hence the need for two or three coats). It is also not a ‘gloss’ paint as such; however, it leaves a lovely satiny, semi-gloss finish.
This paint is not very durable or tough; it can get chipped, which doesn’t mean that it will get chipped.
A 250-millilitre can is rated to cover approximately 3.25 metres but that is optimistic: somewhat contradictorily, it covers very well but coverage is not good because usually three coats are needed.
In view of Rustins Small Job Gloss paint’s non-toxic formulation and colour palette, it is the perfect choice for the door and casements of a child’s room; as well, it is a smart choice for small touch-ups around the house.
- Best for vibrant and ‘happy’ hues that ‘pop’.
- Non-toxic and safe paint is also odour-free.
- The satiny, semi-gloss finish is very appealing.
- Lacking in good opacity and density.
- No way to get away with a single coat, and even two may not be enough.