What Type of Paint Should You Use on Doors?

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By choosing the correct variety of paint for your door you can save yourself unwanted future hassles. Paint provides a level of protection for doors, but it is important to choose the correct variety and sheen of paint to meet your needs. Exterior doors will be painted with a different product then interior doors.

The correct variety and sheen of paint will insure your door can handle its high volume of use and save time and money in the future.

Types of Paint

The two major varieties of paint are latex paint and alkyd paint. Latex paints are the most commonly used paints today because they dry quickly and are often odourless. The highest quality Latex paints are 100 per cent acrylic. Latex paints are water based, which means cleanup is done with water instead of turpentine. Alkyd, or oil-based paints, require turpentine or denatured alcohol for cleanup. Alkyd paints also dry slowly and produce a lasting odour caused by high levels of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. Alkyd paints do have certain advantages. They do not reveal brush strokes as clearly as latex paints, they resist staining, and they are long-lasting. These factors make alkyd paint a strong choice for interior doors.

Paint Sheen

In addition to selecting a variety of paint, you must decide on the sheen your want. Sheen is a measure of how shiny or glossy a paint is. Flat paint, or matt finish paint, has the least amount of sheen. Flat paints are ideal for low-use areas, like ceilings or non-humid rooms. However, constant cleaning will eventually damage flat finishes, so they are not effective choices for doors. Satin paint has more shine and resists dirt and stain more than flat paints. Likewise, semigloss paint has more shine than satin paint and is easier to scrub and clean without damage. Gloss paint is the most reflective, toughest and easiest to clean of the four. It is important to remember that as the sheen of a paint increases so does the magnification of imperfections: gloss paint will amplify any dents or dings on a painted surface. Gloss paints often require more coats to complete a job.

If you are covering over an existing paint job, it is important to match the sheen. Gloss paints often require three or more coats to cover less glossy paints, and as a general rule it is better to paint over a semigloss with another semigloss, or a satin with another satin. Satin paints or semi-glass paints are most often used for doors.

Exterior Doors

Exterior doors require more planning, as you must factor in weather conditions where you live. Wood doors usually expand and contract during seasonal changes. This requires a paint that can expand and contract with the wood. Paint that is 100 per cent acrylic with satin sheen will contract and expand well with seasonal changes. The amount of UV light a door is exposed to will also influence paint choice. Alkyd paints show more damage in high UV conditions than latex paints. In general, it is best to consult a local paint store about regional weather information that influences paint selection.

Interior Doors

Choosing paint for an interior door is a simple procedure compared with exterior doors. Since doors are often areas of high traffic, and thus prone to scuffs and dings, it is best to choose a paint that is easily cleaned and resists dirt well. Alkyd paints offer strong resistance to dirt and scuffs, while higher sheen latex paints can provide similar protection with lower VOCs. Humidity levels are also important to factor into paint selection. Acrylic paints are most suitable for high humidity areas, though alkyd paints are also resistant to moisture.

Colour and Quality

Colour choice may be the most important factor in selecting a paint. The more intense the colour, the more coats will be necessary to finish the paint job. Latex paints dry faster; thus multiple coats can be applied more quickly. Also, high-quality acrylics are thicker, so they provide better coverage. Most professional painters choose to paint doors with oil-based paints, as they provide the greatest protection for high traffic areas.

Time Frame

How quickly a project needs to be finished is often a paramount concern. If time is a factor, fast-drying acrylics are the better choice; if smoothness of finish and durability are most important, then oil-based paints are the better choice. Beyond paint choice, it is important to remember that prep work will influence the outcome of a paint job as much as the variety of paint used.