Flaking Paint on Steel Door

artamnesiaJuly 3, 2007

I just bought a house that has what appear to be fairly new steel exterior doors. The one door off the back deck gets a lot of sun exposure and the paint is essentially leaping off of the door. I mean cracks everywhere and then large patches flaking off to expose the naked metal underneath. Although it's great fun to pop off big flakes of paint with the flick of a fingernail, I think I really need to address the problem. Is sanding even an option at this point or do I just need to get it chemically dunked somewhere? Or do I forget about it and look the other way until I can wall it off and build french doors where I'd rather have doors?

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You can get a new standard size steel entry door for about 120 bucks so chemical stripping is probably not worth it if you can get a new door for about the same cost. Is the paint really flaking down to bare metal or just to the factory primer? If you can actually see bare metal, then that means the primer has failed which I don't think I have ever seen. Usually 2 coats of a quality exterior acrylic satin and those doors can take quite a beating from the sun for years.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 7:20PM
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It's actually flaking off to expose bare metal. Is it possible that the door was never even painted and that it's just the original primer giving up the ghost? It's pretty spectacular.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 11:01AM
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I don't really know....I've seen plenty of people leave those doors for a very long time without painting them and they don't peel like that. They start to rust first after the sun chews through the primer but I've never seen them peel. I suppose if somebody threw some cheap interior flat paint on a door like that it could peel pretty quick in big flakes.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 9:37PM
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Hi "Art",
Can you tell if the paint was brushed on; as opposed to, say, a sprayed coat/or 2??.

Also...Is the back side of the chips the same look/finish as the outer skin??
* If so, the doors were never primed. Someone just used some good-'ol Krylon and called it good!
* Our Steel-skin doors were done 11-yrs. ago in an auto-body shop. They still look real good! Our builder still does-'em that way.

Let us know!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 12:12AM
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Hi faron,

The paint appears to have been sprayed. It's smooth where it's intact. The flakes look the same on the front and back.

These pictures might help:

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 3:11PM
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Haha that is funny looking. It looks like it would not be that hard to get the rest of the paint off though then use an appropriate primer designed for metal followed by an acrylic topcoat.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 3:47PM
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Looks like they were never primed. I have a steel door for 20 years now that the sun beats on for a few hours every morning and it's just like new, not a crack or peel on it. If the paint on the door is coming off so easily do you think you could remove what is left with a pressure washer? It would be cheaper than professional stripping or replacing.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 12:01AM
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Hey "Art",
Get out your 150-220-grit sanding material, and do thorough job.
* Remove ALL dust, wipe with some paint-thinner.
* Buy the BEST LATEX Exterior primer you can find, and apply it with the best brush you can find. If either is less than $10 (per Qt. for paint), throw-'em away.
* You could use a good FOAM-roller, then "tip-off" an area with your good brush.
* Apply TWO coats of the best LATEX Exterior paint you can buy. Rust-oleum makes some good door paints. Or, any brands TOP-GRADE paint in a Satin, S/Gloss, or Gloss.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 1:10AM
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Thanks for the great tips. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I really hope the identical front and side doors aren't next...

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 1:04AM
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I hate to 'steel' the post so to speak but I have a similar issue with my 20 year old Bilko doors. A top layer of grey pain is starting to come off---it peeling and I see red underneath...perhaps primer...? Do I just sand and re-paint? Won't that leave unlevel spots whe the layer of pain had chipped or peeled? Should I try to strip it? If so should I use a chemical or one of those 3m Large Area paint and rust removers that attached to your drill? Do reprime or just paint with rustoleum?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 10:37AM
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We have the same problem with flaky paint. We sanded the doors as much as possible. But it still wasn't smooth. DH primed & painted anyway. It looks better than it did but not great.

What can we do to make it better?

Mrs. C

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 12:37PM
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