Paint, Tutorials

How to Paint a Door (without taking it off the hinges)

If you’ve ever had to paint a door (or wondered how), I’ve figured out a little way to keep yourself from painting the hinges.

paint a door without painting the hinges

Before you suggest “why don’t you just take the door off the hinges?”, the answer is simple: it’s more time-consuming, and you can’t guarantee that the door will still hang the same when you try to put it back up again – I’d like to avoid that headache if possible :)

First, take a strip of painter’s tape and cover the hinge you are trying to protect.

painters tape on door hinge

Next, smooth your finger along the edge of the hinge.  In most cases, the hinge will not be exactly flush with the door itself, so you will likely have a recessed edge.

firm tape along hinge

Take an exacto knife and run it along the edge you created in the tape.

exacto knife on hinge with painters tape

Remove the remaining outer portion of the tape that is now separated from the piece that is still covering the metal hinge.

trim excess tape from door hinge

Now, it’s much easier to paint over without needing extra cleanup!  Simply remove the taped part when you’re done painting.

You can do the same tape treatment with other spots on the door, such as the inset for the door lock.  Don’t forget, sand down your doors where possible to help the paint adhere to the surface faster.  Right now, I’m using a base coat of BEHR Ultra Premium prime+paint (only on the first coat – the color tends to yellow so I like the non-primer for the top coat) to make the job go even faster, but the process is still several coats away from the finished product.  Here’s hoping my final coat tonight is the final coat, and I can reveal the rest of the bedroom!

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  1. says

    Hmm… good idea for the hinges. I'll have to try out that tip – we have around 7 doors that need to be painted sooner or later, and I'll admit that I've totally been slacking and procrastinating, partially because I don't want to take the doors down. Thanks for the tip!

  2. says

    Glad I could help! The first door wasn't nearly as simple. I actually re-created the door hinge shape and cut the tape to fit… over and over again for each side of the hinge. I eventually learned my lesson though – too many doors in the house to continue with that method!

  3. says

    I was just trying to figure this out! I'm in the midst of painting my bathroom and there is a tight space needing painted where it's either remove the whole door or (I thought) paint over the hinge. This is so much better! Thanks

  4. says

    Great idea! Thanks! I love it that you share all these trial and errors. Being a single woman and having to do all this stuff around the house can be overbearing at times and this post really helps.

    • Anonymous says

      I have also seen where you can soak them in a slow-cooker and it will remove the paint (but you'd have to take the hinges off the door, obviously, so not as easy as scrapping).

      Thanks, Amanda P

  5. AmandaBull says

    probably dumb question, but what type of paint did you use for your doors and trim? do you have to sand at all? mine are all ugly 70's flat doors, that are really needing a makeover!

    • says

      Not dumb. I used Behr Ultra White in semi-gloss. I sanded the doors but did't sand the trim (though I did use Zinsser primer in high traffic/scuff areas first). These doors are all flat too; I'm considering beefing them up with color (like light gray).

  6. Laura says

    How funny, I just happened to stumble on this post – not looking for anything like this, but I getting ready to spray paint out door hardware with Oil Rubbed Bronze paint (ala Young House Love), and was in need of a way to spray the HINGES without getting it all over the door (and surrounding walls, floors, etc.) without removing them. Obviously, I will have to do a lot of masking, but I think if I reverse your idea, and just cut the tape away from the hinges, then use a small brush to get the opposite side of the hinge pin, this just might do the trick! Thanks!

  7. Scott B says

    Great tips here. You can always tell the lazy painter by the paint on the hinges,door knobs,glass on the windows etc. That painters tape really does do wonders.

  8. Laura MacKelcan says

    I love black hardware and white painted doors. i have a 1920’s house which had mostly dingy brass escutcheon plates, hinges, locks and fittings for the glass door knobs. The doors were solid wood and stained. Reproduction hardware is really expensive so i purchased some black, actually called licorice, paint from a craft store that will “paint anything”-including brass. I used artists paint brushes to careful paint just the metal. it took a few coats to create the illusion. I also painted the doors white. They turned out amazing!

  9. Julie Anderson says

    On HGTV I had seen someone paint their hinge hardware with rubber cement, paint, then peel off the rubber cement. Sounded easy enough and I mentioned it to my trusty hardware store guy and to my contractor. Both said “no, no, no…the rubber cement is a PITA to remove”. Both of them suggested thickly coating the hardware with a layer of car wax. Wipes right off and polishes your hardware at the same time.

  10. Molly Gibson says

    I wanted to paint my doors but I didn’t want to take them off the hinges so this article helped me a lot! Thanks a lot for the idea!

  11. AtlantaJJ says

    I have to paint my front door, and I’m thinking to myself, there is no way I am taking that door off the hinges. We can just forget about that!

    Now I just need to figure out how to keep the bugs out of the house while I’m painting. I’m thinking of taping up plastic to seal the doorway.

      • AtlantaJJ says

        Oh dear, I have cats. They will have to be sequestered to the litter box room for the day!

        Thanks so much for your blog, it’s an inspiration!! I have a house that was built in 1992 that need fresh paint on every inch. Today is the beginning!

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