Understanding how to paint paneled doors is a bit tricky to paint because they have multiple surfaces. Unlike their plain counterparts, painting paneled doors requires a bit of patience and a more systematic approach to make them look their best.

Always prep the door thoroughly to get rid of imperfections and to make sure that you will get the smoothest surface and the best bond. For professional results, take down the door and remove all hardware. If you prefer to leave the door in place, cover the handle and all hardware with 2-inch blue painter’s tape to avoid spatters.

Gather your tools: A screwdriver; drop cloths; a bucket; clean rags; 2-1/2- or 3-inch angled sash brush; enamel or semi-gloss latex paint or alkyd paint; stir sticks; 1-1/2-inch angled sash brush; foam hot-dog-shaped roller; and a pad painter.

Instead of the hot dog roller, you can use the large brush instead. You need the pad painter only if you don’t remove the door.

Stir your paint thoroughly with a stir stick. Paint settles fast, so stir for a good 30 to 60 seconds to redistribute the color evenly.


Paint the edges of the molded panels.

Using a 1-1/2-inch tapered brush, work from a corner and move out to the center of the trim to prevent excess paint from building up in corners.


Paint the flat surface of the raised or recessed panels, using a foam hot-dog-shaped roller or a 2-1/2- or 3-inch brush.

Don’t overload the brush or roller. Tap the brush on the sides of the paint can or roll the foam roller over the ridges in the paint tray to spread paint uniformly. Start painting in the center and work your way to the flat outer edges.


Apply paint to the horizontal outer and middle panels first, following the grain of the wood.

Use your 2-1/2- or 3-inch brush or hot dog roller to paint the horizontal flat edges of the door, using long continuous strokes.


Paint the vertical panels of the door, again following the grain.

Work from the top down to the bottom edge. To keep surfaces smooth, paint from dry areas stroking toward wet paint. Let the paint dry and cure according to the paint manufacturer’s instructions.

Remount the hardware and hang the door. If you didn’t take down the door, try to keep it ajar for as long as possible after you paint it. It can take as long as a week for it to cure. The longer you can wait, the less you risk the surface becoming marred.