Wood doors are sometimes stained and sometimes painted. If you stained your wood door or bought it pre-finished and now you want to paint it, you can. Painting over stain, urethane or shellac takes some prep work, but it does not require a lot of work. You do not have to use harsh and dangerous chemicals to completely strip the surface. In the past, a common belief was the finsih coat and stain had to be removed from the wood surface in order for the paint to gain good adhesion. With the advent of specialty primers, paints and an increase in the overall effectiveness of paint this in no longer the case.

If you have a dark wood door that makes the room look dull and drab, a fresh coat of paint maybe your answer to brightening up the room. Maybe your stained door has scratches and wear marks that just needs to be freshened up to make the door look more inviting. Whatever the reason, you can successfully paint over stain and have a good outcome.

Preparing to Paint the Door

Remove the door from the hinges and lay the door on a flat and stable work surface or across two sawhorses.

Place a large rag or old quilt over the sawhorses to protect the door's wood surface from scratches and nicks.

Preparing the Door

Sand the surface of the door with medium grit sandpaper in a sanding block or use a handheld orbital palm power sander.

After sanding with medium grit sandpaper, sand the door again with fine grit sandpaper and again with extra fine grit sandpaper.

If you have an intricately carved or highly ornate wood work on the door, skip this and see the second method for painting over stain. It will be very difficult to sand a finish from the carved recesses of the door. You may even ruin the door if you try.

Wipe off the surface of the door with a tack rag to pick up the dust and debris generated from sanding the door. If you do not have a tack rag, wet a rag and wring out the excess water and then wipe the surface of the door with the damp rag. Immediately follow with a dry rag.

Painting the Door

Paint a coat of oil-based primer onto the surface of the door. Use a roller, paintbrush, foam brush or paint sprayer. If you have a highly ornate and carved door, paint specialized bonding primer onto the surface of the door. Bonding primer adheres to shiny, glossy surfaces. Bonding primer is more expensive than regular oil-based primer, but it cuts your work time tremendously. Spraying bonding primer or painting with a high grade paintbrush is the best way to prime the difficult areas.

Let the primer dry completely. It is dry when it does not feel tacky to the touch. Oil-based primers take longer to dry than other types of primers.

Paint the surface of the door with a paintbrush, foam brush, roller or sprayer with oil-based paint. If you used a bonding primer, you can use oil-based or latex paint over the bonding primer. Oil-based paints tend to last longer and provide a tougher finish than latex paints.

Let the door dry until it does not feel tacky to the touch and add a second coat of paint using the same method you did for the first coat.

After it is dry look at it to determine if you need a third coat. Most times two coats are all you need.