How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

So Christy and I placed an order for a couple new interior doors for the studio apartment as part of our minor refresh of the space.

The doors arrived last week, and I knew I didn’t want to just paint them “all regular” with a brush and a bucket of paint. I wanted them to look smooth and flawless with no brush strokes or streaks. My dad would accomplish the effect with his professional sprayer, and they would look like glass when done. But I didn’t want to go get a sprayer for a two door job. So there had to be another option, right?

Yup. There is.

What you’ll need is Floetrol and a foam door roller.

housepoint0 paint interior door smooth 609 How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

housepoint0 paint interior door smooth 615 How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

We took one of our leftover buckets of Behr latex paint (flat moon glow) and hoped it would be of decent enough quality for the job. But we couldn’t get the damn thing open, so when push came to shove the bucket got a swift jab to the kidneys (with a drywall saw…ouch)

housepoint0 paint interior door smooth 608 How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

We laid out some plastic drop cloths and a couple buckets and laid the doors on them horizontally for painting. Since we just had a couple doors to do, we just poured a little paint into a small roller tray and added about 5-6 capfuls of Floetrol. I just went by feel, and aimed to get the paint thin enough to run off a spoon. Which usually happened about the time a few bubbles would whip up as I mixed.

housepoint0 paint interior door smooth 611 How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

We ordered primed hardwood doors, so skipped any priming that might normally be required. There were just a few rough spots around the edges of the door that needed to be cleaned up. So while I got the paint ready, Christy lightly sanded the doors and then wiped them down with a damp rag.

housepoint0 paint interior door smooth 610 How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

I then loaded up the foam roller and began by painting the sides of the door first. I did a couple passes here, as the sides were a bit rough and absorbed the first coat. With the sides done, I then painted the face of the door.

housepoint0 paint interior door smooth 612 How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

The paint went on smoothly, without any resistance or tackiness. At first you will notice some slight bubbles or roller marks, but don’t worry the Floetrol will do it’s work and level it all out.

housepoint0 paint interior door smooth 613 How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

tiny bubbles

I tried not to overdo it, and go over and over the same area despite my tendency to want to. I just made sure I got rid of all the thicker gobs that I made from touching down a loaded roller onto the door. Within minutes you’ll notice the roller marks and bubbles disappear and you’ll start to get excited about your door project.

housepoint0 paint interior door smooth 614 How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

We waited 5-6 hours between coats even though it will look and feel dry within 10-15 minutes.
It took us a couple coats per side to get an acceptable looking result. But you might want to do three if you’re a perfectionist.

The next day we flipped the doors and did the other side. Then that night we took them into the studio to hang and install all the hardware. Pa-Dow!

housepoint0 paint door smooth 616 How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

We’re real happy with the result, and you should definitely try this technique on the next set of doors you have to paint. But we warn that you’re likely to be impressed to the point where you’re adding “repaint all doors in the house” on your to-do list. It looks that good. Smooth, Flat, $!

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7 thoughts on “How to paint an interior door: Smooth, Flat, No BS (Brush Strokes)

  1. How much paint did you put in with floetrol? We are having trouble making it smooth and you can see roller lines
    Thanks

    • We added about 5-6 capfuls of Floetrol into a small roller tray that was about halfway full of paint. Aim to get the paint thin enough to run off a spoon…experiment and keep adding floetrol until you get to that point.

      Then we loaded the brush and applied onto the door…during application we noticed lots of tiny bubbles on the surface and slight brush stroke marks. As things dry though the paint leveled out and everything was smooth.

    • Painted similarly to a wall. Starting with a W, then spreading and smoothing things out along the way. I did the edges of the door in one long strip.

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