Under 2 hours
When painting the interior or exterior of your home, painting the door trim gives the space a finishing touch. Most people use the terms door jamb and door frame interchangeably, but there is a difference. The jamb is only part of a door frame. The jamb is the interior sides of a door frame where a door is secured. The other parts of the door frame are the head, sill, door stop and weather stripping (on exterior doors.)
Note: Practice lead paint safety. If the house or surface you're painting was built before 1978, see EPA's renovation, repair and painting program for guidelines.
Get Materials and Supplies Ready
Follow these tips to learn how to paint door frames and how to paint a door jamb like a pro:
High gloss or semi-gloss latex paint is used for painting interior doors and trim. Glossy sheens showcase the door frame better and it’s easier to clean once it’s dry. For doors that open to the outside use latex-based exterior paint designed specifically for use on trim.
For greater precision and efficiency, use a high-quality paint brush. Professional painters recommend using an angled tip brush to make it easier to work the paint into tight areas. Use a brush no wider than the door widest part of the door trim.
Pro tip: Don’t hold the brush by the handle. You’ll have better control by holding the brush by the metal band just beneath the bristles.
Remove the Door
When painting door trim, you'll need access to all parts of the door frame. The easiest way to do this is to remove the door off its hinges before painting door jambs and the door frame.
To take the door off its hinges:
- Loosen the hinge pin by tapping it with a hammer and nail.
- Tap the pin up until it’s loose enough to pull out.
- Open the door part way and pull it to the side so it drops off the hinges.
- Put the door in an area where it won’t get damaged. If you plan to paint the door, painting it while it’s off its hinges will give you a smoother, more professional look.
- If you cannot remove the door, cover it with plastic sheeting and leave the door propped open all the way to expose as much of the frame as possible.
Protect the Work Area
Protecting your work area will enable you to work freely without having to worry about paint ending up where it doesn't belong. Here’s what you need to do before you start painting the door trim.
Clean and Sand
Painting a door jamb will only change its color, not its general condition. It may be necessary to repair minor scratches and damage prior to painting.
- Use greasing cutting soap and water to thoroughly wipe down the door frame and jambs. Thorough cleaning will remove any lingering dirt and stains that show or prevent the new coat of paint from sticking properly. Wipe the trim dry.
- Fill small chips and gouges with wood filler or spackling, if needed.
- Use a line of caulk to seal gaps between the frame and the wall.
- Allow the wood filler or spackling and caulk to dry, then sand the entire door frame with fine-grit sandpaper, making sure to smooth down any large bumps from the wood filler or spackling.
- Wipe down the door frame to remove any dirt or dust.
Painting the Door Jamb
When it comes to painting door trim, it’s best to start on the inside of the door trim first. When painting trim, inevitably some paint gets onto the faces of the door trim. Painting the inside of the frame first will allow you to smooth out any excess paint that ends up on the face of the trim.
- Dip the brush head into the paint, about 1/3 the length of the bristles.
- Begin painting in the upper inside corner of the door jamb and door stop. Align the tip of the brush with the corner and move down the frame with a long sweeping stroke until you reach the bottom jamb.
- Use a linear up and down motion to cover the surface.
- Go back to the upper corner to check for any globs of paint. Use the tip of the brush to work the paint down if needed.
How to Paint a Door Frame
After the jamb is painted, it's time to move to the outside of the frame.
- Go from top to bottom, overlapping by at least half an inch. Don't forget to do both sides of the door frame.
- Finally, paint across the top of the frame. Try not to apply the paint too thick or it will drip down the sides of the frame or on you. If you cannot reach the top of the frame, use a step ladder.
- Allow the paint to dry to the touch before applying a second coat.
- Once the paint is fully dry, reattach the door.
Knowing how to paint a door frame can help you improve your home’s appearance. Need help identifying paint supplies? Find products fast with image search in The Home Depot App. Snap a picture of an item you like, and we'll show you similar products.