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Tips on Repainting Doors and Cleaning Hardware

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

Do you enjoy freshly painted, sparkling clean doors? Do you love to open a crisp, white door without any fingerprints or marks? Here at home, touching up and repainting doors seems to be a never ending project with 3 dogs and constant foot traffic. Between myself and my husband, Dave, I'm the painter in the house. He tells me I have the steadier hands!

Now that Christmas is over, it's time to work on several projects that have lingered at Hembree House and painting this door is one of them. This is the Before photo of the porch door that had been painted on the interior side only and the other side is just primed. So I decided to start here and share my tips on how I paint doors and clean hardware.

You can see this door had been hastily painted by the previous homeowner.

The door needed some serious cleaning before I taped off the glass and bottom weatherstrip. I recommend cleaning your doors with gentle soap and water before painting. Look at the dirt and dust from just a couple of wipe downs. I definately didn't want fresh paint on top of that grime. The finish was already smooth, so no sanding was necessary. If sanding is necessary, try a 220 grit and lightly sand the entire surface and wipe down once again.

To get a professional looking finish painting your doors, it's important to remove the door hardware to avoid getting paint on the strike plate, rosette, and in this case, the dead bolt. You can cover hardware with masking tape, but I've found the paint always seems to bleed onto it. I prefer the cleanest look possible, so I remove everything.

how to remove old dried paint from door knobs
Old and dried paint on door hardware

In the case of the porch door, there was a lot of sloppy paint on the hardware, which to be honest, makes me crazy. To remove it, I put the entire disassembled piece, both sides, in a plastic container, filled it with hot water from my Keurig machine's hottest setting, and let them sit and soak in the water to loosen the dried paint.

Hardware soaking in hot water to remove paint

In this video you can see how easily it scrapes off after soaking for several hours, while I prepped, painted and let the paint dry on the door before they were put back on.

Quality door hardware, pulls, and nice, clean hinges that are paint free are my weakness. When I tour showcase homes, you'll find me touching the door knobs, turning them, hearing the soft click as they settle into the strike plate. The heavier the hardware, the better!

Last year we replaced all of the original knobs in Hembree House (circa1976). Here is what we used: Emtek Crystal Knobs (model 810HTUS7) in the French Antique finish, purchased at

Crystal door knob leading into the bath at Hembree House

The hinges were replaced as well, with matching Emtek Hinges (model 91033US7). The difference is so dramatic! Since we have a rather small cottage-sized home, it was easier to invest in quality hardware with the limited amount of door knobs needing to be replaced. All totaled we spent under $1,000 on the upgraded hardware and hinges. It was worth every penny. Seeing these crystal knobs lined up down the hallway like the staff at Downton Abbey makes me smile.

painting doors white and replacing door hardware crystal door knobs
Freshly painted doors with new crystal hardware

Back to the porch door. One coat of paint was not enough. I let the initial coat dry for 2 hours, watched several episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix (great show), and went about applying the second coat of paint.

You can see I've used towels under the door and over the chair to catch drips. I nearly got paint on the chair, but lucked out! Whew. The tape I used on the glass and weatherstripping is Frog Tape for Delicate Surfaces. Normally that is used to tape over wallpaper and freshly applied paint, but it's all I had available and it's a fantastic product regardless for clean lines.

If you're curious about what trim paint I'm using, I use the same color and finish thoughout the house, whether it's on the doors, baseboards, bookcases, or wainscoting: Sherwin Williams ProClassic SW 7006 in semi-gloss finish. It's very durable and holds up well.

Here is the finished door with two coats of trim paint and the brass hardware replaced. So pretty and clean against the brick. This particular door does not have the crystal knob since it is a keyed entry. But I'm definately much happier walking into the house with a finished project

off my To-Do list!

I hope this has inspired you to tackle a lingering project in your home. I'd love to hear about what you're working on!

xoxo Traci

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Thank you, Cheri!


Cheri Dietzman
Cheri Dietzman
Jan 28, 2020

I have many doors in our circa 1970 home! Painting them is on my spring to do list :) . Good tips!

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