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The Best Tips for Painting a Custom French Door

Get all the tips you’ll need for painting a custom French door the right way so you get amazing results you’ll be proud to show off!

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Woodgrain. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog!

I’ve wanted to give my laundry room a makeover for the past few years.

After all, with as much time as I spend doing laundry, shouldn’t the space be pretty?

Also, my laundry room is on the second floor of my home, right outside the master bedroom.

It’s the first room I see when I leave my room each morning.

Laundry room with blue walls, white cabinets, and a window

And I was so tired of the blue.

I started the makeover by putting together an inspiration board.

One of the first projects we completed was a custom wood valance as a window treatment.

It was so easy to build and really adds something special!

Next, we removed one of the wall cabinets, and enclosed the space above the cabinets over the washer and dryer to create the look of custom cabinetry.

And then everything got painted.

I painted the laminate cabinets a gorgeous green.

We added picture molding to the long blank wall for a pretty accent wall.

Then, my husband built a custom drying rack in the spot where the old cabinet was.

The floors were covered with new peel and stick vinyl tiles.

Finally, it was time for a custom French door to let as much light into my dark hallway as possible.

Custom Doors from Woodgrain Offer So Much Style!

I absolutely love the quality of the custom doors from Woodgrain!

Did you see the beauty that AnnMarie installed for her laundry room?

You can even design your custom doors online.

There are so many options including the kind of wood, the style of panels, whether to add glass or not, the style of the glass, etc.

You can also choose from interior and exterior door styles!

When you order a custom door from Woodgrain, you’ll be able to get something that’s perfect for any style of home, from modern to traditional to Craftsman to farmhouse.

And everything in between!

Woodgrain gets all of their wood from managed forests to ensure sustainable and ethically harvested woods.

Cool fact: Woodgrain uses 99% of every log, all the way down to the sawdust that gets packaged for animal bedding or made into wood pellets!

Woodgrain has dealers all over the world! You can find the dealer closest to where you live here.

You can also decide whether you want to stain your door like AnnMarie did, or paint it like me.

If you plan to paint your door, you can order it with the wood already primed and ready to go!

Tips for Painting a Custom Wood French Door

Okay, so you’re probably wondering how hard can it be to paint a French door?

Grab some paint and a paint brush and go for it!

And while you’re partially right, there are some things you can do to make the painting easier and also to improve how it looks when you’re done.

It all starts getting easier when you order that primed door from Woodgrain!


Because the door will arrive completely prepped and ready for you to paint.

No need to bother with priming.

And no need to protect the glass!

Check out that window pane.

Close up of Woodgrain French door window pane with protective plastic covering on the glass covered in paint overspray.

Woodgrain covers the glass with a protective plastic film before attaching the muntins to your French door!

How cool is that?!

And easy.

Because one of the most tedious steps in painting a French door is protecting the glass beforehand.

After finishing this project, I’ve come up with a bunch of tips to get the best results for painting your custom French door.

Prepare the door for hanging

When you order a custom door, it’ll be delivered without any cuts for hinges or the door knob.

Before you begin any of the steps for painting you’re gonna need to get the door ready to be hung.

AnnMarie shared complete, detailed, and easy-to-follow instructions about how to hang a custom door!

Sand the door

The primer that Woodgrain uses requires a light sanding prior to painting.

Woman standing outside sanding a Woodgrain French door lying on a table outside.

I placed the door on a six-foot table and used a 180-grit sanding sponge to sand the door.

I love using sanding sponges for projects like this because they’re flexible and easily get into all the little curves and grooves.

After you sand both sides of your door, use a shop vac to remove the dust, and then go over the surface with a tack cloth to get any dust it may have missed.

Paint the door frame

Trust me.

Paint the door frame before you hang the door!

You can thank me for that tip later.

Hang the door

I prefer painting a French door when it’s hanging for a few reasons.

First, I’m impatient.

Your door will need two coats of paint on each side.

I didn’t want to wait for the paint to cure before flipping it over and painting the other side!

Second, gravity.

No matter how careful you are, paint is going to potentially drip or puddle a bit in places.

I prefer reducing where that dripping or puddling may happen!

If the door is lying flat, you run the risk of it happening all along the edge of all the muntins where they meet the glass.

Wood mullions on French door window panes with dripping paint

See what I mean?

When the brush goes across the muntins, it naturally scrapes some of the paint off your brush, creating little drips and puddles.

I find it easier to catch these and smooth them out when the door is hanging.

Protect the hinges

Make your life easy and put some painter’s tape over the hinges.

Woman applying painter's tape to the hinges of a custom Woodgrain French door before painting

It’s so much easier to paint the door when you don’t have to be careful when you go around the hinges!

Don’t install the door knob

Since I recommend hanging the door before painting it, you have to protect the hinges.

But, save yourself some time (and painter’s tape!), and skip installing the door knob until after painting.

A custom Woodgrain French door with the door knob and latch removed for painting.

It’s so much easier to paint when you’re not going around a door knob or faceplate!

Protect your floors

No matter how careful you may be, drips and paint spatter happen.

Partially painted Woodgrain French door with protective covering on window panes and drop cloth on the floor.

Save yourself the headache of removing paint from your floors by putting down a drop cloth.

Also, be sure your drop cloth is thick enough that paint won’t seep through!

Or use plastic sheeting.

Ask me how I learned this one…

Don’t put too much paint in your painting cup!

Paint begins to cure as soon as it comes in contact with air.

If you pour too much paint in the container at first, you’ll find that it doesn’t spread as nicely by the time you get to the bottom.

For this project, don’t pour more than 8 ounces into your cup.

That’ll be enough to paint one side of the door.

Paint the edge first

Once everything is prepped and you’re ready to start painting, start with the edge of the door.

You really don’t need to bother with painting the top or bottom edges since they aren’t visible.

Primed Woodgrain French door with plastic protective cover on glass panes

Be careful as you paint the edge that you don’t get a thick line of paint on either of the door’s surfaces.

Paint has a way of getting onto those surfaces as you paint the edge, which is fine.

Just be sure to smooth that paint out so there’s not a thicker ridge of paint along the edge of your door’s rails.

Woman's hand painting the edge of a French door

Paint the muntins BEFORE the rails

I know.

I’m painting the side rail before the muntins in the picture below.

I did each side of the door in a different order to find which way was most efficient.

You’re welcome!

I learned that the paint job looks much better when you paint the muntins first, and then paint the rails that surround the door.

Woman painting a Woodgrain French door with a paint brush

So why paint the muntins first?

When you paint the rails first, the paint starts drying while you paint the muntins.

Painting the muntins takes some time!

A little bit of paint will get onto the rails while you’re painting the muntins.

Since the rails are starting to dry, you end up with brush marks on the rails when you try to smooth it out.

Woman painting the mullions of a Woodgrain French door with a paint brush

So paint the muntins first.

If a little paint gets on the rails, just smooth it out.

Then do the rails at the end.

If you’re using a paint with excellent leveling qualities, like Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint, you can paint the rails with a brush.

But if your paint doesn’t advertise how well it levels, use a trim roller for the rails for a smooth finish.

Quickly remove loose paint flecks

When you get a primed door from Woodgrain, the protective window film will be covered with speckles of dried primer.

Even if you’re super careful, sometimes one of those speckles will get loosened by your paint brush while painting the muntins.

Close up of the mullions of a French door with a chip of paint from the protective plastic on the freshly painted mullion

Be sure to remove that piece of dried paint quickly so it doesn’t affect the painted surface.

Plan on two coats of paint

Even when your surface is primed, you’ll still need two coats of paint on your custom wood door.

close up of the side of a painted French door with just one coat of paint. Spots of the primer are showing through.

Sometimes it feels like my paint jobs were done by a toddler when I see how they look after the first coat dries!

I swear I covered that surface completely.

But as the paint dries, somehow the primer shows through in spots.

Fortunately, that second coat goes on faster than the first one.

Let the paint cure for at least 24 hours

The door looks so pretty after its second coat of paint!

Be sure to let the paint cure for 24-48 hours before removing the protective film from the glass.

Painted Woodgrain French door with arched top on laundry room with ceramic tile floors. Revere Pewter door and trim, White Dove walls with picture box moulding on the wall

How to Remove the Protective Plastic Film from the Glass

I recommend getting the following items together before you remove the protective film from the glass panes.

  • razor blade
  • tweezers
  • cotton swabs
  • nail polish remover

You’re also gonna want a shop vac and trash can.

Bottle of nail polish remover, razor blade, tweezers, and cotton swabs on top of a washing machine to remove plastic from French door window panes

Cut the edges of the film


So I was a teensy bit disappointed that the plastic film didn’t just peel right off.

But the film is actually under the muntins, so you need to cut each square away first.

Woman's hands using a razor blade to cut around the edges of protective plastic covering on French door window panes.

Carefully run a razor blade around the inside of each muntin.

Angle the blade so it’s facing towards the pane of glass, not the wood muntin, otherwise you may nick the wood.

woman's hands removing protective window film from a pane of glass on a French door after painting

After cutting around all four edges, use the razor blade to lift one corner of the film.

Now you get that satisfying peel.

Don’t worry, that’s not paint on the glass!

I chose seeded glass for my panes which have a swirled pattern in the glass along with the little bubbles.

Remove paint from the glass

No glass protection is 100% perfect.

Plastic film can get little tears and holes, so you may end up with a few spots of paint on your glass.

Fortunately, they’re super easy to remove!

Window pane of seeded glass on a Woodgrain French door with paint on the glass

For this smear of paint, I opted to use my razor blade to scrape the paint off the glass.

The paint was very close to the painted wood muntins and I didn’t want to use something that might remove the paint from the wood.

Simply hold the razor at an angle and scrape the paint away.

Woman's hand holding a razor blade and scraping paint off a glass window pane

The film on this next pane of glass had a few pin holes that the primer got through.

These spots are super easy to remove!

You can use rubbing alcohol, but I found that acetone-based nail polish remover was so much easier.

Cotton swab removing paint from glass window pane

Just put a little nail polish remover on a cotton swab and swipe the paint away.

Zero elbow grease required.

Remove stubborn plastic film from the corners

There were a few panes of glass on my French door where the plastic film didn’t slice away smoothly.

I’m pretty sure that was user error on my part…

Painted French door with a tiny piece of protective plastic in the corner.

Somehow the plastic got kind of scrunched up in the corner.

That might not be the technical term…

But these little bits of plastic were easy to remove with a pair of tweezers.

Woman's hand holding tweezers and removing plastic from the corner of a glass window pane

Clean up your mess!

Removing the window film creates quite the mess!

Lots of the little dried primer spots come loose during the process and get all over the floor.

You’ll also get little bits of dried paint and dust on the muntins of the door (see the picture above!).

This is why I recommend waiting until the paint has cured before removing the plastic!

Once you’ve removed all the plastic film and thrown it away, get your shop vac out to clean everything up.

Admire Your Gorgeous Painted Custom French Door!

Install your door knob, and you’re done!

Step back and take in how pretty your new door is.

Also, you can really see how dark my hallway is in this picture.

It needs all the natural light it can get!

Painted Woodgrain French door with arched top on laundry room with ceramic tile floors. Revere Pewter door and trim, White Dove walls.

The French door really helps to brighten it up out there.

I absolutely love how the door looks opened into the room.

The curves at the top.

The pretty seeded glass panes.

It’s the perfect accessory to my French country-inspired laundry room.

Painted Woodgrain French door with arched top on laundry room with ceramic tile floors. Revere Pewter door and trim, White Dove walls, Lafayette Green cabinets

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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