Brighten Your Home Using This Door Painting Tutorial

While I typically steer towards neutrals when selecting wall colors, furniture and rugs, I love to incorporate pops of color throughout my home. This color is usually in the form of accessories, artwork, accent pieces and doors. Yes, doors – and I’m not talking my exterior front door either! 

One of my favorite and easiest DIY projects that I completed was the painting of our pocket door, which separates our kitchen from our downstairs hallway. When we bought our home, this door had a natural, varnished finish and it looked like it could use some love. I love pocket doors and felt as though this pretty architectural feature was deserving of a more stylish look. 

To me, a white door felt too expected – and given this pocket door is sandwiched between our white kitchen cabinets and a white wall, I knew I wanted to add color to the door. Several trips to the hardware store and many paint chips later, I settled on Benjamin Moore’s Antique Glass. It’s the prettiest shade of blue that gives our home such a fun coastal vibe!

While there were a number of steps involved, the most time-consuming part of my painting project was removing the varnish. However, the actual process of updating this door was super simple.

I thought it would be helpful to create a door painting tutorial with the exact steps that I followed. That way, you can eliminate any guesswork and paint your own interior door with confidence.

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Step-By-Step Door Painting Tutorial

  1. Remove the door and place it on sawhorses. Then remove the door handle and all hardware- it will be much easier than trying to paint around it.
  2. If your door is varnished: spray CITRISTRIP on the side of the door that’s upright on the sawhorses and let it sit for about 45-60 mins. It’s important to wear chemical-resistant gloves and protective eye wear when working with CITRISTRIP. You do NOT want this getting on your skin or in your eyes!
  1. Put your gloves and safety glasses back on. Then, use a set of plastic scrapers to remove the loosened varnish by scraping in the direction of the wood’s grain. If the varnish doesn’t lift, let the CITRISTRIP sit a bit longer.
  2. Once you’ve scraped the first side of the entire door, apply a second layer of CITRISTRIP over any stubborn spots. More than likely, these will mainly be in the recesses of the door. After waiting another hour, use the plastic scrapers and wire brushes to remove the remaining varnish.
Door with varnish removed
Door with all of the varnish removed
  1. Following the second coat of CITRISTIP, apply mineral spirits to prepare the door for priming and painting.
  1. Repeat all of the above steps on the other side of the door.
  1. Once the varnish is fully removed from the door, apply two coats of primer such as KILZ 2 All-Purpose Interior/Exterior Primer. This primer dries fast so you should be able to apply the second coat within an hour of the first coat. I recommend letting the second coat of primer dry overnight before flipping the door over on the sawhorses. Then follow these same steps on the other side of the door.
Step 7 in this door painting tutorial - apply primer.
Door with primer applied
  1. Finally, with all of the prep work completed, you are ready for the fun part – the color! For painting doors, I like to use 2.5″ angular brushes as it makes it easier to get into the recessed areas. I own this Purdy Pro-Extra Glide Angular Paint Brush and this Wooster Sash Paint Brush and really like painting with both.

    Apply two coats of your paint. The first coat will likely be dry to the touch in under an hour, however I generally wait about two hours before applying the second coat.

    I recommend waiting a total of 2-3 days before flipping the door over to start painting the other side. This will ensure that the first side is fully dry. The last thing you want is indents on your freshly painted door.
Step 8 in the door painting tutorial - apply the paint
My pocket door just after applying the first coat of paint
  1. Once your paint has fully dried, rehang and enjoy the beauty of your door!
The freshly painted door

While I had to remove varnish from my pocket door, most of you will be able to skip steps 1-6 and go straight to step 7. 

Painting an interior door is an inexpensive, high-impact update that comes with a low risk. You can always re-paint your door if you get bored of the color. So take a look around your home and consider what interior doors could benefit from some color. I especially love a colored pantry door!

I hope you found this door painting tutorial helpful! Feel free to add any questions about the process in the comments section below. If you use this tutorial to paint one of your interior doors, tag Casually Coastal on Facebook and Instagram so that I can see how beautiful it turned out!

Also, if you’re looking to make a larger impact in your home and have hardwood floors, consider refinishing them and changing up your stain color. This Hardwood Floor Refinishing Guide that I recently published will provide you with everything you need to know about how to prepare, tips on stain selection, and more.

Happy painting!

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Brighten Your Home Using This Door Painting Tutorial


  1. August 21, 2020 / 1:12 pm

    I LOVE that colour!! Thanks for this read because my husband and I are redoing our sunroom and panting can be very annoying ahha!

    • August 23, 2020 / 8:16 pm

      Isn’t the color so pretty?! I admittedly don’t love painting but it’s so gratifying once you’re done. It can change the entire look of any room!

  2. August 22, 2020 / 2:11 am

    That looks so gorgeous! Thanks for all of the awesome tips for painting doors. I’m inspired to do some painting of my own now. 🙂

    • August 23, 2020 / 8:18 pm

      Thank you so much Lisa! Yes, get out that paint and paint brush! 🙂