Your garage is often the first thing anyone notices when they see your house from the street. If your garage door looks worn and grungy, you’ll definitely lose a few points on curb appeal.

Ready to spiff up your garage door? Great! But before we get down to the tools, supplies, and 5 steps involved in painting your garage door, let’s cover some important questions that will help you prepare:

What Kind of Paint Do You Use on a Garage Door?

As long as you’re going to the effort of painting your garage door, it will definitely be worthwhile to properly prepare the surface and use a paint that’s specially formulated to withstand exterior weather conditions.

Garage Door Material

The material your garage door is made of will determine the best type of paint to use.

  • Metal – If your garage door is made of steel, an oil-based exterior paint will protect the door against rust better than a latex paint. However, newer garage doors are made of aluminum, and since aluminum doesn’t rust, an exterior latex paint will work just fine. Just beware: never paint your metal garage doors in extremely cold or hot weather.
  • Vinyl, Fiberglass, or Composite – Exterior latex paint will be best for garage doors made out of vinyl, fiberglass, or composite materials. Oil-based paint won’t adhere well.
  • Wood – Exterior latex paint is the best choice for wood garage doors. When painting new wood, be sure to paint on a stain-blocking primer first. If you’ll be painting wood that is stained, be sure to thoroughly clean the door with TSP so the primer and paint will adhere.

Compatible Paint

Determine the type of paint that’s already on the doors. Use a paint that’s compatible with the original finish and follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t paint oil-based paint over latex. This will cause chipping and peeling.
  • It’s possible to paint latex paint over oil-based paint but you’ll have to very carefully prep, prime, and apply several coats.
  • For metal doors that are already painted with oil-based paint, it’s best to use oil-based paint for the new finish.
  • Be sure to also check the garage door trim and follow the same guidelines for painting it as with the doors themselves. 
  • Do Not Use Interior Paint – Interior paint isn’t formulated to stand up to exterior weather conditions and will fade, crack, or peel much sooner than an exterior paint.

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Garage Door?

Painting a garage door isn’t a particularly difficult job, but it takes time. The majority of the expense is in the labor. Our cost breakdown is based on a garage door that measures about 135 square feet. And remember that costs, especially labor, will vary according to where you live: 

  • Supplies: Painters tape, sand paper, all-purpose cleaner, sponge, and surface repair material will range in cost from a low of $9 to a high of $10.
  • Paint: The cost of a high quality paint and primer will range from a low of $46 to a high of $83.
  • Labor: Set up, prep, sanding, wash and rinse, paint on primer and two coats of paint,  and clean up can cost from a low of $141 to a high of $ 338.

Should I Sand My Garage Door Before Painting?

How carefully you prep your garage door will help determine how long the finish will last. Proper prepping will not only ensure that the paint will go on smoothly, it ensures that it will hold up for the long term. 

  • Sand Rust and Chipping Paint – If there are rusted spots or the paint is chipping or peeling in certain areas, you’ll need to sand. 
  • Sand to Smooth Transitions – It’s best to sand any rough areas so that they are smooth and transition into the surrounding finish.

5 Steps to Paint Your Garage Door

Now that you know which is the best type of paint to use, how much it will cost to paint your garage door, and a bit about prepping, let’s get down to business and discuss how to paint your garage door in 5 steps. 

1. Gather Your Tools and Supplies

Before you start, be sure to review the best ladder safety practices. You’ll need:

  • A ladder, drop cloth, rubber gloves, safety glasses, dust mask, fine grit sandpaper, all-purpose cleaner, sponge, bucket, clean rags, painters tape, wire brush, 2″ nylon brush, ¼” paint roller, and a garden hose.
  • Exterior primer and exterior paint. Base your choice of either latex or oil-based on the garage door material and original paint.

2. Disengage the Automatic Garage Door Opener

  • If you have an automatic garage door opener, disengage the opener so that you can manually move the door to lessen bending and reaching.
  • This will give you the ability to move the door up and down so you can prep and paint comfortably.

3. Prepare the Surface

The best way to ensure the paint will properly adhere is to take the time to prepare the surface before painting. 

  • Remove any rusted or chipped spots with a wire brush and then sand the spots smooth with fine grit sandpaper. 
  • Then use a sponge to wash the door with an all-purpose cleaner. 
  • Rinse the garage door thoroughly so that all grit, grime, and dust are removed.
  • Dry the door with clean rags.

4. Prime 

Once the door is clean and dry, it’s time to prime. You’ll use a high quality exterior primer that is compatible with the material of the door.

  • Start at the bottom of the door and work toward the top.
  • Many garage doors have inset panels. Prime these first using a 2-inch nylon bristle brush.
  • You can use a ¼” roller for the stiles.
  • Prime the trim last.
  • The primer should be allowed to dry for at least 12 hours.

5. Paint

  • Using the same method as for priming, start at the bottom and work toward the top.
  • Paint the interior of the panels first, then work outward and paint the stiles.
  • Allow the first coat to dry for at least 12 hours, then apply a second coat if necessary.

Painting a garage door isn’t particularly difficult, it just takes time. Most of your time will be spent in properly preparing the door so the paint job will be long-lasting. If you don’t have the time, or the inclination to paint your garage door on your own, a professional painter can have it done in a flash. 

Great Guys Painting has a network of carefully vetted professional garage door painters near you. To get connected to one of these pros, all you have to do is request a fast, free quote. In no time at all, you’ll be in touch with an expert who has all the materials and know-how to expertly paint your garage door. 


Upgrade your curb appeal with a newly painted garage door! It’s fast and easy when you find a professional painter you can trust through Great Guys Painting. Ask for a free quote now!