Our front door.  The exterior. FINALLY.  

Howdy, folks!   So, I’ve decided to jump out of order with my posts this week because I’m SO ready to show you guys some updated exterior pics of the front of our house.  Ya see, first I painted the rusty green gate to the courtyard a crisp black, then I painted our front door once it was installed… but I’m showing you the front door and exterior shots first.  Because I’m excited.  And it’s my blog. 🙂  Then, I’ll go back next post and give y’all a tutorial on painting our metal gate with befores and afters of that project.

So, onward…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout this front door process it’s this.   I am not meant to paint exterior doors.  And also, some projects seem like they’d be straightforward… but they aren’t.

Either that or I just simply haven’t discovered the right paint yet.

Part of the problem, well, most of the problem is that our new door has no texture.  It’s perfectly smooth.  I love this about our door, but it definitely posed a problem when it came to painting it.

Painting the interior side of our door was a piece of cake thanks to the self-leveling property of the Proclassic paint by Sherwin Williams, but I didn’t realize until I was in the trenches with the outside of our door that most exterior paints don’t do that.

I’d thought about removing the door and spraying it, but it has a specific type of hinge that doesn’t allow the pin to be removed, and I was VERY hesitant about removing the hinges from the door frame after our old door practically fell off due to a stripped frame.  So, I decided to go the old-fashioned way with a brush and foam roller.

Colorwise, I decided to paint the door the same charcoal color that I’d painted our old door (Black Bean by Behr) in their Exterior paint + primer.   It worked well with our old door, but then again… that door had texture to it, so I never really noticed textural issues with the paint.

I followed the same process as when I painted our old door, but after 2 thin and even coats, I had brush strokes galore…

It doesn’t look that bad here because of the lighting, but trust me.  It was visible from the street.  Easily visible, in fact.

So, I decided to splurge on a $30 quart of Sherwin Williams Resilience paint matched to the same color…

Prior to painting, I busted out the sanding block and smoothed the finish across the entire door…

Then, I applied one thin and even coat of the SW paint…

Although there were still some roller marks visible, it was WORLDS better than finish with the Behr paint.  Now, I should’ve just stopped here (an old joke in which a head of cabbage should’ve “quit while it was a head” is rattling around my brain right now).  But, like many Americans these days, I figured that if one was good, two must be better.  So, I painted another coat to “make it perfect”.

And I was wrong.  So wrong.   In my attempt to further annihilate the roller marks, I made them, like 50 times worse than they were with the Behr paint.

IF ONLY I COULD MAKE YOU SEE WHAT IT REALLY LOOKED LIKE.  This picture doesn’t even slightly do it justice…

Again, you could clearly see the roller marks from the street.  And it looked BAAAADDD.  I think part of the issue is that our front porch isn’t shaded.  We have only about an 18 inch overhang above it, so differences in sheen are more punctuated with the sun bouncing off of it.    As for that fourth coat,  I think my mistake was that I applied too much paint, thinking that it would self-level.  It.DID.NOT.   Plus, it had a very stippled, coarse texture to it.

At this point, I was quite dramatic.  And I apologize to the cookies that will never again see the light of day.

That next morning, I woke up bright and early and busted out the sanders.   This sander for the areas around the molding…

And the orbital for the flat areas…

I did as much of the sanding as possible with the door shut to limit the dust inside, then I opened it to get around the edges.  I finished up with a sanding block to get any remaining rough areas…

My tips for painting prep post-sanding are as follows…

1. Remove as much dust as possible from your surface with a Swiffer rag first.  This will prevent your final step (tack cloth) from getting gummed up faster than it needs to.

2. Clean all the dust around prior to painting.  Everywhere.  Shake out your drop cloths, vacuum loose dust.  Just get rid of it.  Fully clean prior to painting.  Nothing is more frustrating than applying your paint only to have a random gust of wind or someone messing with your drop cloth accidentally blow dust onto your finish.

3. Right before applying paint, use tack cloth to remove all remaining specks of dust and debris from your surface.  Tack cloth is magic stuff, my friends.   It’s sticky and gets up everything.  Keep a supply on hand.

After I’d completed all of the above steps, I applied another thin and even coat of paint to the door.   This time, I applied the paint and then used LONG strokes from the top of the door to the bottom to eliminate as many roller marks as possible.

The result was better but still not perfect…

…but at this point, I basically claimed defeat and decided to leave it.   I accepted that it would just have to be imperfect for the time being.   And I was at peace.

But alas, the paint gods laughed at me.

I left the door open for ELEVEN hours (I finished painting that last coat at 9:30 am, and finally closed the door at 8:30 pm).  And when I woke up the next morning, I opened the door (STTTTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCCKKKKK!!!!!! <- The door screaming at me).  Aaaaaaand small bits of paint came off around the edge of the door.  What the deuce???!!!   After all of the coats that I’d painted before (after which I’d only left the door open for 4-5 hours post-painting).  The paint DIDN’T BUDGE.  But after I finally was okay with leaving the door as is (and after I’d left it open for almost half a day), it stuck and I lost bits of paint.

Oy.  #morecookiesplease

So, I still need to paint another coat.

But in the meantime, the missing spots aren’t terribly obvious, so I’m gonna wait for my interior cheerleaders to reassemble and motivate me to repaint the door without crying.

And I’m gonna smile anyways and show you what I will call “after” pictures (as I listen to the smallest violin in the background).   First, though lets look at the doorway when we closed on the house.

Now, it looks like this…

Painted gate, new front door, neater courtyard.   Joey basically laid down cardboard to smother the weeds and then layered decomposed granite on top.   The fact that the painted door looks better here than it had, just tells you what it looked like before.   All in all, though, the courtyard is feeling more modern and much better kept.  Eventually I’ll add some potted plants and such to gussy it up and add some color and softness.

We found that random brick (next to the door) in the courtyard after we moved in.  It says “ST JOE” on it.   Clearly the yard knew he was comin’.  Haha! 😉 Sooner or later we’ll change out the lighting fixtures, but I’m being really picky since they’ll have to coordinate with the lanterns we choose.  And honestly, I’m fine with them until I find the perfect replacement.

The hardware is this exterior door set that I picked up from Home Depot….

It’s modern and sleek and everything that I wanted for our door.

A view of the outside of the courtyard….


I think one of the BEST things Joey could’ve done was add that rock border and the nandena bushes to soften up the front.  It’s so good.  I need to either paint or replace those lanterns since they now pale in comparison to the gate.   I was hands-down gonna paint them, but recently one stopped working.   If we can fix it, I’ll paint it, if not, we’ll have to replace them.  Like I mentioned before, we’ll eventually replace them anyways, but in the meantime they may as well look nice.

And now a before and current view of the house.  Here she is on closing day…


And now…

We’re working on getting the grass to green up and we have a bit of hedge-trimming in store, but aside from that, things are starting to coming together. The orange roof is even starting to look slightly less offensive.   It’s just amazing how the front door really makes such an impact.  It was exactly what this house needed, in my opinion.   I want to give the mailbox a little makeover with some of the charcoal paint (instead of that brown) to tie it in to the house, and the rotting wood shakes on top need to be replaced as well (I have some fun ideas for that). But these are relatively little things that we’ll knock out as we have the time.

So, that’s our exterior house update at this point.  Does anyone have any suggestions for getting that front door more uniform?  Since I have to do another coat anyways I’m open to all suggestions.

TDC Before and After

17 thoughts on “Our front door.  The exterior. FINALLY.  

  1. Ahh, this door dilemma must be so frustrating! Paint lines are the worst. Sadly I don’t have any advice, but I really hope you can figure out a good solution! Your curb appeal is SO much better (even with the paint lines 😉 ) I just love the bold pop of black!

    • Ugh! It’s so frustrating. I’m hoping 5th time’s a charm. (pleasepleaseplease) The black is my favorite too! Hopefully the lanterns will really set off the courtyard if I’m able to paint them. 🙂

  2. You are so amazing & innovative! The door is a perfect fit for your house & we love your choice of paint! You’ll figure out the lines problem in time! (wish I had a solution for you)

  3. Aw man this door has been a real pain in the A huh?! I don’t know if I have much advice either. I was going to recommend longer rolls, from top to bottom but it seems like that didn’t help much! At least it’s in the right way now 🙂

    • So true! It could be I worse… The door still could be backwards! Haha! I’m still hoping to figure this out. It sucks to pay for something expensive and then have it look crummy. I’m actually getting to the point where I’m considering hiring a professional if the last coat doesn’t look good.

  4. Love the courtyard updates! Modern and clean, and still in keeping with the original bones of the house. Beautiful. I know close to zero about painting, but is it possible to mix in Floetrol (that self-leveling paint additive) to exterior paint? That seems like too easy of a solution. 🙂 Either way I hope the 5th time is a charm! Good luck!

  5. Love the black; I think it makes a really great statement, especially from the street.

    I’ve read that oil-based paint covers brush and roller marks better because it dries more slowly and has more time to even out. Not sure how that would work on a vertical surface, though, and it probably wouldn’t work after putting latex paint on. So…nevermind.

    For the sticking, I saw a tip to wax the door frame. I did that when I painted my front door this spring (black, like yours, and I love it) and so far no paint has come off. I used paste wax and it stunk for a few days, but the smell is gone now.

    • What a great idea with the wax! I hadn’t thought about that. Maybe when I apply my last coat, I’ll try that. I’d thought about oil-based paint initially, but was afraid of how long I’d have to keep the door open due to the extended dry time. That would’ve been a great solution though. Thanks so much! 🙂

  6. Great job updating and improving your curb appeal! I also love the color you chose to paint the front door, but I am sorry to hear about the paint lines. I would have done the same thing because I am such a perfectionist! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Let me start with I don’t know anything about painting. So take this as a novice making a comment. Would it work taking the door off (pain I know) and using a sprayer to paint it?

    • I wish I could’ve done that… We have a certain type of hinge that doesn’t have a pin that we could remove and we didn’t want o unscrew it from the jamb after our experience with our last door, so we were kind of stuck. 🙂

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