10 Front Door Paint Color Questions + Answers

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If you want to update your front door paint color, you’re in the right place! I’m answering all of your questions about paint sheens, sidelights, how to prepare a door, and more.

blue front door sherwin williams distance 2023
Paint Color: Sherwin Williams Distance
Our Spring Front Porch

Your front door has many responsibilities! As I said when I featured our two blue front doors, its most important job is serving as the entrance to your home, and creating the all-important good first impression. If painting your front door a contrasting color makes you nervous, no worries. I compiled all the questions left in the comments of the blue door post, and also included any that were emailed. So read on for the answers!

What shade of gray primer did you use?

The honest truth is that I don’t know! When I bought the primer for the door at our current home, the Sherwin-Williams employee said he would just “add a little black” so it wouldn’t be a stark white. So it was a can of off-the-shelf white primer with some black added. The main purpose of a primer is to seal the existing paint. Primer also helps the new coat of paint adhere better. Depending on what color you choose to paint your front door, choose a primer color that’s a lighter shade. The primer and paint color do not have to match.

east facing front porch on gray house

Will a front door that faces East fade?

The answer to this question depends on so many things…and it doesn’t matter which direction your door faces. First, does your door have any protection from the sun? For example, if your front door is covered by a porch roof, it will fade much more slowly than if the door is out in the blazing sun. Second, was your door prepared properly before it was painted? Preparing your door, and choosing the appropriate paint, are crucial for a paint job that will stand the test of time. Our fiberglass door on Sutton Place faced east, but was shaded by a porch roof. (Pictured above.) It never faded, cracked, or peeled.

How do you paint a front door?

  1. Remove the hardware. (You can tape around the door knob and locks, but removing the hardware makes the paint job much easier.)
  2. Tape off the hinges.
  3. Scrape any chipping paint, fill in holes and cracks with exterior putty, and lightly sand the entire door.
  4. Use a tack cloth to remove any leftover debris.
  5. Apply a high quality exterior primer.
  6. Apply 2 coats of a high quality exterior paint in the sheen of your choice.
  7. Let the door dry several hours before installing the hardware, and closing the door.

In the image above, the different sections of the door are numbered. This is the order in which each section should be painted. Use a paint brush for the #1 sections, and a small foam roller for the other sections.

What about sheens? I like a gloss paint finish. Will it work for a front door?

Yes…the only sheen I would not recommend is flat. Satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss all work well on a door. Keep in mind that high gloss paint shows imperfections…so if your door is old with cracks or peeling paint, a lower gloss paint will work better.

board and batten in foyer painted sherwin williams modern gray
Sugar Maple House front door interior
Sherwin Williams Modern Gray (semi-gloss)
Board and Batten in the Foyer

Can you have one color on the outside, and a different color on the inside?

Yes! Our current door has different colors, as did the door on Sutton Place. It’s perfectly fine to use whatever color goes with your interior and exterior color palettes.

blue front door color sherwin williams distance 2023
Sugar Maple House front door exterior
Sherwin Williams Distance (satin)

Where and how do you separate the colors?

Paint the exterior side of the door in Color A. Then, paint the other three sides of the door in Color B.

  • Side 1: Color A = exterior
  • Side 2: Color B = interior
  • Side 3: Color B = latch and lock mechanism
  • Side 4: Color B = hinges

We have painted our front doors several times, and never removed them from the hinges. Many paint tutorials advise it, but in my experience, it’s not very practical. You need saw-horses, the proper tools, and space…which are three things we never had.

blue front door with sidelights sherwin williams naval 2023
Sherwin Williams Naval in satin finish.
Summer Front Porch

If your door has sidelights, do you cover them?

This is definitely a matter of personal choice. I chose not to cover our sidelights in both of our homes. I wanted the light to come through the windows without being obstructed by shades or shutters. It never bothered me that someone on our porch could peek in. If this is a concern for you, read on.

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What are some suggestions for sidelight coverings?

It’s totally possible to cover your sidelights. Some suggestions are sheer curtain panels, roman shades, blinds, or shutters. Of these choices, the curtain panels are the easiest to find, and very simple to install. Custom shutters would be the most expensive, but they also look very nice.

on sutton place house

Can we see the entire exterior of your house?

Pictured above is the front exterior of our house on Sutton Place, built in 1963.

  • Siding: Sherwin Williams Morning Fog (I chose a satin finish, but it was a mistake. Imperfections in the siding became more visible after we painted. A flat sheen would have worked better.)
  • Shutters: Sherwin Williams Grays Harbor (satin finish)
  • Trim: Sherwin Williams Bright White (semi-gloss finish)
  • Front Door: Sherwin Williams Naval (satin finish)

Pictured below is the front exterior of our current home. The only thing not in the picture below is our garage, which is on the left side of the house. I don’t know the color of the shingles or the stone, but the door is Sherwin Williams Distance.

sugar maple house on sutton place blog

Do your shutters have to match your door?

Definitely not! Your front door should be the focal point of your home…so make it stand out by painting it a contrasting color to the rest of your home’s palette. It’s the place where you can show your personality, and add incredible curb appeal at the same time. That said, it’s perfectly fine (and sometimes really stunning) to paint your door and shutters the same color. So choose what you love, and follow your heart. And like I’ve said many times before, it’s just paint. If you make a mistake with your door color, it’s an easy fix.

I have a clear glass storm door. Does this effect how I paint my front door?

If possible, remove the storm door before painting the front door. This will give you better access, and prevent any accidental paint splatters on the storm door. If removing the storm door is not feasible, cover it securely with a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to protect it from paint. Keep in mind that with a storm door installed, your actual front door won’t be as easy to see from the curb. Painting it a bright and contrasting color will help it stand out.

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Thank you for hanging in there until the end. If you have a question that wasn’t answered, just leave it in the comments, or shoot me an email. (ann@onsuttonplace.com) I’ll update this post with more questions + answers.

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  1. I love being able to hang a wreath on my front door, but often have to have it indoors because of where I live.

  2. All these doors are by themselves. What to do when you have a storm door in front of them? I have a blue/gray home with white door, white sidelights and white storm door. I don’t think changing the door color would make a statement if there is a white storm door in front of it.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Angel…yes, storm doors do take away from the impact of a painted front door. A saturated color will definitely show up better from the street, and make more of a statement than white. If you decide to give it a try, let us know how you like it. Thanks!

  3. Such a helpful post. Thank you!

  4. Ann, we must be kindred spirits. I painted my front door with Naval several years ago and still have not tired of it. So pretty!

  5. Ann, Thank you for all the info. It is extremely helpful. Can you please tell me the best way to paint old shutters that have faded. We are quite intimidated to tackle this project ?

  6. This is a very timely post for me. We bought our home 30 years ago when my husband was transferred to a new city. It is a very classic white colonial. I had never considered owning a white home, but it was the builder’s model with some extras and brand new. It turns out I love the classic white. Originally it had dark grey shutters and front door. Since then the shutters have been painted black. The front door was painted maroon, then a French blue. This year we are having new shutters installed and the front door will be painted a richer color blue/green. We also bought new hardware for both the doors, and a new custom house number sign. What a difference it makes to freshen up a front porch, and the price was right.

  7. Mary Choi says:

    Thanks for taking the time to provide all this great information. I love your front door paint color. Ours is a naturally stained wood. I would love to change it, but can’t even begin to figure out the paint color. We have a weird brick color. 🤦🏻‍♀️

    And love your schnauzer baby! We lost our Bella a little over a year ago. We now have Missy…she’s a chocolate brown mini. She has big shoes to fill. 🥰