Painted French Doors

By Kate Riley January 31, 2013

Sometimes I need to listen to my own advice.  I was crushing on colorful mullions and trim a few weeks ago and wishing I could go that route and then I smacked my head and realized I could so add color to my house if I just painted my interior French doors.  So I did.

They’ve been white for five years and I decided to have some fun – I chose a medium shade of teal blue by Glidden called ‘Still Waters’ and it gives the entry and the living room a dose of fresh color.

diy painted french doors


Painting divided light French doors isn’t difficult, you can even paint them in place, you just need these supplies.  A tarp, a foam roller, deglosser, an angled paintbrush, a utility knife or box cutter, a razor blade scraper and painter’s tray (not shown),  painter’s tape, rubber gloves, and a screwdriver or drill.

painting supplies


I tape off doorknobs and loosen but don’t remove door hardware, then I tape around the loosened pieces, then tape off the hinges too.

tape around doorknobs

taped hinges


I don’t tape off glass because it takes too much time and since you can scrape latex paint right off the glass at the end, I don’t bother.  But first, degloss your door with a sander/deglosser product.

If your door is painted with oil based paint and you’re painting over it with latex, you’ll have to prime first.  If the underlying paint is already latex, you can go right over it with more latex but deglossing will help your new paint adhere to the layer underneath.  I rub it on with an old towel or rag.

deglosser on rag

Wear gloves and follow the instructions on the label.

degloss door


When the deglosser has done its job, I apply paint first with a foam roller for even coverage then I follow it up with a high quality brush and paint all the muntins (a reader shared the difference between mullions and muntins with me, you can read the article here.)

foam roll door

Paint one side of the door at a time and watch for drips – paint right onto the glass since you’ll scrape it off later.  I always do two coats, but if you’re going with a dark color, you may need three.

angled brush


I don’t tape off glass because latex paint peels right off of it and even if I took the time to tape off, there would still be bits of paint on the glass so I skip that and just plan on removing it all in the end.  Here’s how.  Score it with a sharp blade from a box cutter or utility knife.

score edges with blade


Next use a razor blade to scrape the paint off the glass.

scrape with blade


*A word of caution: the proper tool for this kind of scraping is a razor blade scraper.  I couldn’t find mine but it’s much safer to use one of these and not hold a razor blade in your fingers!  So ignore my example and use the right tool – they’re pretty cheap at your local home improvement store.

razor blade scraper


Once you score the edges and scrape it with a razor blade you can easily peel it right off the window.

peeling paint


**But here’s a tip:  with this “no tape” method, wait one full day for your paint to dry because when you peel it off you get long strips and small flakes and if your door is still wet those flakes will stick to the door as they fall off – very frustrating.  If you wait until your paint is dry before you score, scrape, and peel this stuff you won’t have that problem.

We have two sets of doors so I painted both sets – the new color plays well with the blue accessories scattered throughout the rest of the living room.

tufted sofa blue doors

living room cg

The thing I love about paint is… it’s just paint!  If I ever want to make them white again or a different color, it’s an easy change.

diy painted french doors

Painting your interior doors is a great way to inject your home with more color with just a few supplies.  If you have any pictures of doors you’ve painted, send them my way, I’d love to see your results!



  1. Such a great transformation! When I bought my house all of the doors were painted. I had envisioned painting them back white, but they are slowly growing on me.

    Random, but where are the curtains from behind the piano from? Love them!

  2. I am loving this! We are putting up french doors in my dining room and I never thought about painting them. I am so doing it! Thanks for all your great ideas!

  3. LOVE the colors you use… I actually “copied” your kitchen, using camouflage on the walls. I’m wanting to paint the pantry door to make it pop and am wondering if you have suggestions on colors that would work well?

    • Good question Racheal, I think a charcoal gray would look great but you could go color too, ‘Camouflage’ is such a great neutral that just about anything will work!

  4. Love the pop of color! But I also can’t stop staring at the drapes in your living room. Where are they from? I’m looking for something exactly like that for our master bedroom makeover. Thanks!

    • I designed that pattern Allison, I’m still working on it though… I’ll have more news about the fabric line this spring!

  5. I spy new geometric Kate fabric! I love the window treatment. If you’d like someone to review it, please pick me :)

    • Ha! Thanks Krista, yes I’m using my house as a canvas to try out new prints, those are new to the collection, still tweaking it though!

  6. The door color is a great transition between the two spaces seen in the photo and definitely more of a pop than white.

  7. Oh, Kate! What a breath of fresh air! I love the blue! Wonderful. And thanks for the tips on removing the paint off the glass…I have a french door to paint very soon and this is so timely and helpful! xo Kristin

  8. Hi Kate! The doors look amazing! Love the color. I just have one question? Wouldn’t you want to paint the doors in an oil based paint instead of latex because of the peeling? I read somewhere do so that….or can you get away with latex paint if its primed first?

    • Hi Shavonda, I usually use a water based enamel but latex is fine too! I try to stay away from oil based paints these days, due to cleanup but I know both Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams make a really high quality water based enamel paint that finishes like oil.

  9. That blue is so perfect for your space. The addition of color really adds to the room. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Very pretty. I’ve been trying to get up the nerve to paint my french doors and this just might have given me the kick in the butt I needed! One question: I noticed you didn’t paint the sides of the doors. Any reason why?

    • No reason for not painting the inside Tracy, I actually painted all four sides on one set!

  11. Kate I love the painted doors, beautiful! I’ve been wanting to paint the inside of my front door teal… but I am stumped by whether or not to include the transom, side lights and trim… has anyone else done this?

  12. I’m so flipping CRAZY about everything about your house. It’s so bright and cheery and mine always feels so dark! :(

    • Heidi the wall color is a tweaked Ben Moore color – check the sidebar, there’s a link to all the paint color formulas in my house.

  13. What a great idea! Why have i never thought if this??? :) my walls are SW’s upward (its a blue). My patio doors need a new coat of paint, anyway, so do you have any thoughts on what color might be good to go with that? Thanks!

  14. OMG! This is exactly what I am going to do with our french doors going into our den-so glad to see it done so I know what it will look like! Looks great!

  15. Kate, this looks lovely! I have been so enthralled with the different painted doors I’m seeing in the blogosphere lately, and yours are equally beautiful! I really like the color you chose and how it works so seamlessly with your home. You’re right, it’s just paint – gotta love it! Thanks for sharing the no-tape painting method – I’m going to remember that one!

  16. They look just fabulous now! Thanks for the tip about just painting, and then scraping the paint off the glass. I had no idea. What a timesaver!

  17. Oh my gosh! Did you think about painting them black at all? I like the blue, but with that piano in view black would have also looked fab.

  18. Loving the blue french doors. I recently painted mine black and love them against my white walls. One thing I noticed about yours was on the one set that you only painted one side you didn’t paint the edge with the hinges blue. I read once was that you should paint the edge that you see when the door is open the same colour as that side of the door. In your case the outer edge of the door would be white and the inner (hinge) edge would be blue. I have always found this looks more professional. Just a thought. Your doors look fab.

  19. Timely post! I’ve been working on painting French doors that we had installed last week. I started to paint them the same color as the trim, then decided to go for a dark brown/soft black instead. The manufacturer’s label on the glass specifically said do NOT use any sharp objects on the glass. I was planning on using the razor blade method, but I didn’t want to risk damaging the glass. Sigh! Masking all those panes was a complete pain!

  20. Very lovely, and if I had French doors inside, I totally would do this! Thanks for the pointers on painting….

  21. What a fun, easy change that makes a big difference! Is this how you would recommend painting wood doors? My whole house has light colored stained pine (I think) doors. Although they are great quality, six paneled doors I hate the light wood color. Would you recommend painting them? Would I need to sand or use a deglosser or both? Prime? Do you really think self painted doors will hold up to four little kids? I would love any advice you have…seeing your beautiful door project has given me hope!

    • Hi Carrie, with wood doors you need to prime them first! I love Zinsser, I’ve talked about it many times, I’d use the Cover Stain with the brown label (no sanding!) then paint it whatever color you like after that.

  22. It’s beautiful! I love love love your work! Can I ask….are my eyes deceiving me or did you not paint the hinge surface of the door? I see that you taped off the hinges, but the “after” pics look like that “side” is white. Also, I appreciate your advice about not bothering to tape the glass, and waiting for the paint to dry before removing! It sure beats the battles I’ve waged with this over the years! (Masking tape glue turns to “epoxy” if left too long!)

    • Hi Lisa, I painted the insides of the doors on one set but not the other, it’s a personal preference if you want to paint around those hinges or not.

  23. Love it! What color are the adjoining room’s walls? Looks like one is greymand the other taupe? Any idea of the paint color names?

    • All paint color formulas are listed if you click the “paint colors” info in my sidebar Diana :)

  24. Love the doors – what a beautiful color! I was wondering how you like the rug in the living room… I’ve had my eye on it for a while and all the reviews say it reads much more blue than gray. Thanks!

  25. Looks so great!! I’m about to paint my back door, and it has those muntin, mullions, #whatever — so thanks for the tips about peeling off paint!

    I’ve paint the interiors of a few of my doors…I love the look, but reeeeeally detest the chore of actually painting them!!

    Interiors front doors black:

    Interior back door, surprise color stripe!

  26. I really like the idea of doing the interior door. here in the colder climates (Chicago) I really feel painting exterior facing window trim is not a good idea because of all the condensation that forms along the casings. If you are not diligent about wiping the moisture drops away it ruins the paint.

  27. WOW – what a dramatic difference painting your french doors made. Your new room needs to be on the cover of a magazine. Love the color BTW. thanks for sharing this with us!!
    Happy Weekend

  28. GOR-jusssss! I have Three sets of interior frenchies in their original wood finish and I’m getting ready to paint them white to match the trim. After this post I may have to reconsider doing color! Love. And now I have great tips on how to procede, thanks!

  29. I agree your home is magazine worthy. So beautiful and simply relaxing to just look at the beautiful pictures. Where did you get your silver mirror at. I am looking for something just like that. Thank you

  30. I just finished painting my french door set this week and it was a pain in the booty. Wish you had posted this before I started (haha) – you have some really good tips. I’m pinning this in case I ever decide to change the color. Thanks for sharing!

  31. That looks wonderful! I have the same doors, and they’ve been white with lace panels since we bought our house. I have wanted to ditch the lace, but not the interest they add. Now I know what to to do! Thanks!

  32. I think you may have helped me narrow down the choice for the perfect teal blue for my main living space. I have dozens of blues as contenders , but even with paint chips and sample pots etc it is hard to choose, seeing this blue close up on the doors makes me think it may just be the one… or close to it. Now need to go to get that color chip and sample paint pot. Thanks. Oh and the doors are wonderful.. the perfect pop.

  33. Wow! Love it. What a great color. I have painted and scraped (a LOT) of windows and doors. I find if you wait 3 days until the paint is fully cured, there is a lot less chance of paint peeling off your newly painted windows, along with the glass! Even after you score, it can be tricky to avoid paint peeling in the corners. After the paint is cured, its a lot easier… though it is no fun waiting for the three days, looking at the mess!

  34. This is something I was planning to do in the next couple of months and to be honest, I was dreading it. Loved this post and now I’m really looking forward to painting my french doors! Someone actually suggested just taking the doors down! Bless their hearts!

  35. lovely! You are brave Kate, I wish I were as brave as you!!! I have two sets of french doors, one going to the dining and one going to the study, it is boring white, and I really want to put color, but choosing the right one is a pain since both rooms have different color schemes (one blue and one going green)!!! AAAGggh! They both face each other, so for now I’m sticking with white. Love your doors though, really pretty. really wish I could do mine too. :-)

  36. I love that you came up with something so new and unique to do to your home, while staying completely harmonious and true to your style! It looks wonderful!

  37. Love this punch of color! Just like everything else you do I LOVE LOVE LOVE!
    I have a question. I have been thinking of painting my french doors black but keep the the molding white around the door. I have been dying to use AS Chalk Paint. What are your thoughts about using it on a French Doors either white or black. Also, does it look weird if one side is a white and the other a different color? Thanks!

    • I don’t think so Andrea, but it does depend on the room. A two tone door might be cool!

  38. Kate, Love the doors and the blue pillows are perfect. Did you make them and where did you get the fabric? I keep all your instructions for future reference.

  39. I love this color pallet. I know you use painting tape..but any tips to prevent bleeding (it is still an issue with me sometimes even with the tape.)

  40. I love the color you used. I went looking for it at Home Depot and I couldn’t find it. So I checked glidden’s website and didn’t see it listed. Could you pot a picture of the lid so we can see the formula?
    Thank you love your home!

    • Hi Trisha, they have the formula at Home Depot in their computer, it’s just not one of their main paint swatches, it’s from the fan deck.

  41. Love this! I really need your opinion. I want to paint the exterior of our French doors from white to black. Problem is the grid from inside shows through & is white. Do I remove it & try to paint it black on exterior side while leaving white on inside? Not sure my hand is that steady!

    • Hmmm that’s a tough call Pam, I’d have to see a picture but if you can see it through the other side you’ll either have to live with it or paint it, but will it look funny on the other side if you do? Again, it’s something I’d have to seen in a picture!

  42. Wow! That looks amazing!!! You did a very great job for painting it. It looks very nice because it’s in contrast with the other color and it really catches attention. The door is pretty too. :) Great job!

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