Believe it or not, you can paint a French door with very little effort or frustration and it doesn’t have to involve hours of scraping or taping off every piece of glass with painter’s tape! Don’t believe it’s possible? Read on for some clever tips that will make all the difference!
I’ve never actually had to paint a French door before this one I did in the new mudroom, but I have had to paint a couple of half French doors over the last few years. These are doors that have the little panes of glass in the top half of the door, but are solid on the bottom half just like this one in our back hall mudroom area.
Let me tell you, even painting those doors was enough for me to learn my lesson. I quickly realized that when you have to paint a French door, you want some kind of trick up your sleeve. You can’t just go about it in a normal, straightforward way or you’ll lose your mind with all of the taping and scraping that you have to do to get a nice finished product.
When we did this mudroom addition off the kitchen that we’re just working on finishing up right now, we ripped off the old, closed-in front porch and rebuilt the space from the ground up as a fully interior space with proper insulation, heating, and electrical. We still wanted a door between the kitchen and this new mudroom because from time to time, we need to let Chuckers (our dog) hang out in there a bit while his muddy paws dry. We went with a French door though so we can still let in all the light from the mudroom windows and we don’t feel totally closed off from the space when the door is closed. Plus, I think French doors are pretty cute in old farmhouses and I’ve always wanted to add one into our house. 🙂
I took a risk and painted the door a fun, mint green color, and I love how it turned out. I thought I’d take a moment now while this project is still fresh in my mind to share everything I learned with you that made this door turn out so beautifully.
How to Paint a French Door
The great news is that French doors have very little actual surface area that needs to be painted, so this is really a quick, instant-gratification kind of project.
One challenge that I noticed is that because French doors have so many difference angles, and you’re moving your brush in so many different directions, you can end up with weird looking brush strokes in some areas if you aren’t careful. I usually like the look of brush strokes on a hand-painted project like this, but in this case, using a brush that leaves behind brush stroke marks proved to be a bit of challenge. I would end up going a bit too far with my strokes and cross over into an area where my brush strokes were going in a different direction and that just looked messy. Because of this, I would actually recommend trying foam brushes for painting French doors. You may go through two or three if you’re painting both sides of a door, but the smooth finish will make the process much less finicky.
If you do find that you end up with weird looking brush strokes, try sanding your door down after the paint has dried with 400 grit sandpaper to minimize the appearance of the brush strokes and make the whole surface smoother.
How to Paint a French Door: The Best Trick Ever
The most difficult, frustrating part of painting a French door, of course, if figuring out how to avoid getting paint all over the glass and how to end up with a nice, crisp finished product. If the idea of spending days and days taping off each pane of glass sounds torturous to you, you’re not alone. I used to just go ahead and get paint on the glass and then scrape it off when the paint was dry, but even that ended up being more difficult than it sounds, and I often ended up with a bit of a messy-looking paint job.
Luckily, there are some amazing ways around these issues that I just have to tell you about!
First of all, if you’re buying a brand new door like the one we were working with, look for ones with a coating over the glass. If you’re buying a door that already has primer on it, it will look like they went ahead and painted primer over the glass too. In fact, the panes of glass will be coated in plastic so that you can paint away to your heart’s content and then remove the plastic when you’re done, revealing a flawless paint job! This worked so amazingly well. We used a utility knife to trace around the edges of each pane of glass and I was so impressed with how fool-proof the whole process was. French door paint job perfection!
But what if you’re repainting an existing door in your home? Here’s the really exciting part. 🙂 I actually learned about this on an episode of This Old House and I thought I had to share it the next chance I got. There’s actually a product you can buy called liquid mask, that you paint on over the glass on your French door (or on windows if you have windows to paint). You apply two coats and the liquid mask dries into a clear, stretchy plastic. You then paint your door just like I did and remove the liquid mask by tracing around your panes of glass with a utility knife. The liquid mask peels right off just the way the plastic coating did on my new French door! French door paint job perfection again!
How to Paint a French Door: The Final Result
This project turned out far, far better than any French door painting projects I’ve done in the past. If you want to paint a French door in your home, this is definitely the way to go about it.
Have you painted any French doors in your home? How did they turn out?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.