How to Paint an Exterior Vinyl Door

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Things You'll Need

  • Hose

  • Screwdriver

  • 2 saw horses

  • Drop cloth

  • Sponge

  • Scrub brush

  • Bucket

  • Primer-bonder for vinyl

  • Paint roller frame

  • 2 paint rollers (medium nap)

  • Paint tray

  • 2 paint tray liners

  • Paint stirrers

  • Outdoor latex paint with Emulsa-Bond or a similar bonding agent


Always paint using thin coats; a thick coat of paint will result in drips.

If a screen or storm door is not present, you may wish to use a second drop cloth over the door frame while you're painting the door.

If painting both sides of the door, allow the paint to set on the first side; otherwise, you'll end up marring the paint at the points where the door contacts the saw horses.

Over time the paint base and the tint will separate, so it's important to stir paint until the paint is completely blended into one uniform color.

It's best to paint in a well-ventilated area. If necessary, open doors and windows to allow in fresh air.

Painting vinyl is an inexpensive option, particularly when compared to buying tinted panels to fit over the door's surface. If you were to paint a vinyl door with normal exterior paint, it would peel and chip very quickly, especially with frequent use and exposure to the elements. Painting a vinyl door requires the use of a primer containing a bonding agent, followed by coats of a special latex paint containing a bonding agent. The special primer and paint trigger a chemical reaction that essentially melts the surface of the door, allowing the primer and paint to bond with the vinyl surface to create a durable finish.

Preparing the Door for Paint

Step 1

Rinse the door with a hose to remove superficial dirt and debris.

Step 2

Remove the door from its hinges using a screwdriver. Lay the door flat on a drop cloth.

Step 3

Remove the door handle by removing the two screws on the base around the handle. If you don't want to remove the handle, you can cover it with a plastic bag using painter's tape or masking tape to secure the bag and to cover any exposed areas of metal.

Step 4

Place a few drops of dish soap in a bucket, fill the bucket with warm water and sponge the soapy water onto the door. The dish soap will remove dirt and will break up oils that are present on the door.

Step 5

Scrub the door with a scrub brush, using a circular motion to remove dirt and grime. Most vinyl doors have a faux wood texture, so scrubbing is required to remove dirt from these indentations.

Step 6

Rinse the door with a hose and allow the door to air dry before proceeding.

Priming the Door

Step 1

Don a face mask or respirator to avoid inhaling primer and paint fumes.

Step 2

Place a liner inside the paint tray, stir the primer-bonder and pour some into the tray, enough to cover the bottom of the reservoir situated at the lower end of the tray.

Step 3

Apply an even coat of primer-bonder to the door's surface. Allow the door to dry before proceeding. The recommended drying time varies among products, so read the label to determine how long you need to wait before painting.

Step 4

Pour remaining primer-bonder into the canister and dispose of the tray liner and roller. Replace with a new paint roller and a new paint tray liner.

Painting the Door

Step 1

Stir the paint before pouring it into the tray.

Step 2

Paint the door, applying a thin, even coat. If a second coat is recommended (read the product label), allow the first coat to dry first.

Step 3

Place the door back on its hinges, and replace the door handle once the paint has dried. Avoid using the door until the paint has set. Setting usually takes 36 to 72 hours. Read the product label to determine the setting time.

Mia Carter

Mia Carter is a CBS News Radio broadcast editor and script writer in Boston. She has more than 10 years experience as a newspaper editor, print journalist, broadcast journalist and Web writer. She is an online editor of mind and soul topics and a seasoned artist specializing in painting, pottery, sculpting, furniture and metal casting. Carter holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and communications.