Any experts? Painting metal front door.

akaDeniseAugust 1, 2002

I'm completely stumped. This will be the 3rd time we've screwed up and had to strip the paint from the metal front door. I could sure use some expert advice.

The 1st try was with Benjamin Moore semigloss exterior paint over the existing faded paint. We used a small closed cell foam roller. The Benjamin Moore paint clung to itself and formed ripples and ridges. We painted in the garage with door open. We waited 4 hours between coats as the can directed.

We stripped the door to the metal, brushed on 2 coats of Behr latex primer and then brushed on 2 coats of Benjamin Moore paint again. Same thing, ripples and ridges. That timewe'd painted inside the house with airconditioning to reduce humidity. We set up a fan in the room (not directly on the door). We waited 4 hours between coats.

This last time, we stripped the door to the metal again. We set up in the garage and sprayed on Sherwin Williams rust preventitive primer and let it dry overnight. We moved the door to the dining room and brushed on 3 coats of Sherwin Willaims latex exterior paint. We waited 5 1/2 to 6 hours between coats. Again, we had a fan in the room that didn't blow directly on the doors. 4 hours after the last coat, the door was dry to the touch. It looked beautiful. We hung it and went to bed.

When I checked it this morning, it had blisters everywhere.

I live in the Atlanta metro area and it was humid and 75 degrees last night. It blistered before the sun came up.

Obviously, we're really not doing this right. What should we be doing to get a smooth, nicely painted front door?

Because the forums move so slow these days, I'm going to post this in a couple of likely places.

Thanks so much for your assistance!


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we had ours done by a man who paints car is wonderful

    Bookmark   August 2, 2002 at 12:55PM
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I would normally wait 24 hours between coats. In humid weather you might want to double that.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2002 at 4:49PM
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Thanks kasefofane,

I think that's part of the problem. I posted this in another forum and learned that latex paint has trouble sticking to galvanized metal, and that's the other issue that's causing the blisters.

It's not going to be easy waiting between coats though, because we won't have a front door.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2002 at 7:46PM
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I used to paint industrial trade show displays, and paiting metal was the bane of my existance, due to all the toxic fumes which made people quite sick even with respirators. I would agree that water borne paints are not the best choice for metal though they've made improvements in the last few yrs. Specialty paint stores, and good spray equip are the best way to go if you have to do it yourself. I would have more info, but I have mentally blocked the entire metal-priming-painting experience from my brain, except for a little note that says, "never do this again, get someone else to do it."

    Bookmark   August 5, 2002 at 12:26PM
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I'm an amateur, but I too noticed that all the attempts used latex paint. The third attempt was getting there - use an oil-based metal primer. But the paint has to be compatible with the primer, so I think you need an oil-based paint, preferably sprayed on to avoid brush marks. It is a little like car painting, but having someone do that could be expensive. Rustoleum? :-)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2002 at 1:38PM
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When I painted 2 metal doors, I used BM oil-based primer and oil-based top coat using a small foam roller. Both came out beautiful--no problems. I painted them hung so I could do both sides at the same time, but I also had exterior, lockable screen doors so I'd have some semblance of security and could keep the bugs out. If you don't have this, then you may need to cut and hang a piece of 3/4" plywood to act as an interim door because as others have said, you must account for adequate drying time.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2002 at 1:50PM
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Thanks for the great advice everyone! So, the consensus is that oil based paint and primer are the way to go for a metal door. I do not want to strip this son of a b one more time, but the funky looking front door is too hard to ignore.

Fathen, I think I understand why you've blocked the metal painting experiences from your consciousness. I think it must be like child birth, nobody wants to remember something like that.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2002 at 4:50PM
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Hi akaDenise,
Here what I found about your problem. Hope it's not too late and you didn't give up:) Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2002 at 10:30AM
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I have sprayed several metal cabinets outdoors, sunny and dry, but it is impossible to spray outdoor when ther is the least semblence of wind!
Yes, there is a good amount of work, but the results are good. Krylon, Rustoleum are ok.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2002 at 12:01AM
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Ive been painting for 15 years use oil based primer and paint if it is galvanized nuetralize it with vinegar first spraying will give you the best looking finish

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 10:15PM
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So you felt compelled to respond to a 10 year old post.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 8:46AM
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Hey, don't knock it! Someone compelled to respond to a 10 year old post brought it back up to the top where I saw it and benefited from the information. I need to paint our metal front door.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 9:39PM
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Krissie I agree. Thanks for keeping this post going because I needed help with my security door. :o)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 2:39PM
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Hmmmm I suspect Benjamin Moore paints have gotten a lot better over the last 10 years. I painted my all metal door last fall and it is GORGEOUS with 2 coats of semi gloss exterior. It was factory primed when I got it.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 1:16AM
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Oil based primer on galvanized metal is a no no. Latex primer on galvanized metal. Clearly stated on any primer can.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:25AM
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HA! Sounds like its come full circle. Wonder whatever happened with the original poster....?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 3:33PM
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I have painted metal doors numerous times, using Zinsser 123 primer followed by two coats of any quality latex semi-gloss. ( WITH GREAT RESULTS )

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:36AM
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Luv that this old post resurfaced because I find myself today with this dilemma. After spending over 3 1/2 hours "stripping" 2 metal kitchen cabinets, my partner woke up from her siesta and was like "honey - how do you like it?" and at that very instant, I knew all my hard labor had been done for nothing! Of course I will admit, the exhausted messages traveling up to my brain from my lower back and shoulders is jumping for joy because this crap is hard manual labor! My hat goes off to all those painters/stripper/resurfacing workers that do this for a living! WOW! So now off to Home Depot before they close to find the right primer & paint, thanks to everyones input!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 8:24PM
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Remember this rule of thumb, If the surface you are priming is glossy then use oil base if it is porous then use whatever. You can and should finish coat with latex paint as it has much better fade resistance. Yes you can use latex over oil as long as you double check the labels on the paints

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 9:58AM
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I know the original post is nine years old, but I found this post through a Google search about painting latex over spray paint (which I am encountering in a totally different situation.) I do have experience with painting over spray paint on a metal door 4 years ago (with great success) and we are once again doing this right now, so I thought I would share our technique/product in case someone else is in this situation.

We used (and are once again using) Rustoleum Professional High Performance Enamel in a CAN (rather than spray paint.) It is an oil-based paint for metal.

When we first used it 4 years ago, we were applying over faded spray paint. Spray paint is pretty durable for an exterior door but can fade terribly. We sanded any rough spots or scratches, and then used a spray primer over any bare metal. We waited a full 24 hours to do any more work. Then, we used a very fine nap small roller to apply the paint, using a small brush where needed (as it was a panelled door.) One coat of a deep red gave beautiful coverage over white primer. We waited a full 24 hours to rehang the door. The door today is as glossy and flawless as it was 4 years ago when we painted it, and it gets full sun, with temps well below freezing in the winter, and hot summers.

This time, we're painting over another spray-painted door (should have done them all at once 4 years ago, but didn't.) We're also painting over a door which has never had anything but the factory-applied primer. In both cases, we are again sanding as needed, priming if needed, and applying the oil-based enamel with a fine nap roller and brush.

This paint is durable, gives great coverage, and is beautiful.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 1:47PM
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To add - we removed each door completely and painted it set across make-shift saw horses. That way you can almost totally eliminate the issue of drips and it can dry horizontally, resulting in a perfect surface. (Also, since the paint we used and suggest for use is oil-based, this is just much better - no chance of getting it on trim, the floor, etc..)

Since we did not have an exterior screen door, we (as a poster above also suggests) made a frame out of boards, nailed plywood across it, and fitted it in place. We're rotating doors - this can just be nailed in place in the basement since the basement is unfinished (and is a walk-out basement.) The basement door can then be hung in the spot of another door, as we paint that other door.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 1:53PM
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Glad this thread is still alive because I need to paint my metal front door which is factory primed.

I found this in a PDF put out by Scotts:

"Many contractors are having problems with new, factory primed steel doors peeling relatively soon after painting. When inspected, virtually 100% of the peeled off chips indicate that it is not the topcoat paint peeling from the primer, but the factory primer peeling from the metal door. This peeling virtually 100% of the time occurs when the painter has selected an oil based enamel to go on top of the factory applied primer. ... It is Scott Paint's opinion that many of these primers are not of a sufficient quality to properly bond to the metal surface, and that the leaning processes used by metal door manufacturers may be inadequate or inconsistent and can leave some oils and release agents on the surface to which no paint can properly adhere. Additionally, many of these door manufacturers are now affixing a sticker to the doors stating their warranty policy which requires the use of latex paints, apparently recognizing the inability of their primers to withstand exposure to the solvent in an oil based paint. They will void the warranty if oil based paints are used."

So there you have it. Paint companies are now even recommending latex paints over a factory prime.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 6:06PM
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Sounds like complete BS to me, the only time I have not seen paint adhere properly is when the door was not properly prepped or the primer was compromised during installaion or construction.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 8:54AM
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