Painting your front door is one of the most important things you can do to your house. When someone looks at your house from the street, the front door should attract the viewers eyes to welcome them. It must make the best impression on your guests.
First there are some things to keep in mind.
- Avoid unnecessary clutter. Clutter is merely junk that may amuse the homeowner but it just distracts the viewer. A plain door is great and a simple wreath on the door is fine too.
- A good vase by the door is nice but no more than that. Nothing plastic or cutesy.
- A cheap front door looks like a cheap front door and prepares your guests for a cheap looking interior.
- The front door should always be clean and have a good coat of paint or varnish on it.
- When painting your front door it should always be a contrasting color to the trim and body color so it stands out. Other doors of less importance can be painted the body color.
What Color Should I Paint My Front Door?
If your antique front door is stained and varnished natural wood, that is great. Do NOT paint your front door if it is varnished. Maintain your door by using a Spar varnish which has ultra-violet blocking properties.
If your door is not varnished, painting your front door to match the window sash color or shutter color is the best choice. Your front door will still stand out even though the shutter color is repeated. Since the color is only used in small amounts on the shutters, reusing this color will create a nice feeling of harmony on the house. If you have a small house without shutters reuse one of the existing colors. If you only have a body and trim color then and only then can you paint your front door a different contrasting color.
On a Colonial house however there are a lot of windows and shutters symmetrically placed with a door in the center. Here the door should be a contrasting color to stand out from everything else.
Color placement can also be a problem when painting your front door and entrance.
This is a front door for a restaurant but guests enter from the rear in the parking lot. The door and sidelights are not historic nor are they a good design so don’t copy this. This is a good example for color placement only.
As I said a red door looks great on a Colonial building but here the door is red, the sidelights are red and the trim is also red.
The trim on the house is all painted white. The door jamb is part of the trim yet notice it is still painted red.
All this red just looks like one big red hole in the house and doesn’t look good. One may think the homeowner didn’t put any thought into this.
Here the trim is now painted white just like all the other trim is.
The sidelights are still red to match the door.
This is not necessarily wrong, but I don’t recommend it. There is a lot of red and the sidelights can appear like they are dominating the door, which has a hierarchy over the sidelights. It would look better if there were window lights all the way to the bottom. This may be a judgement call based on the house.
It does look much cleaner and neater than the example above.
In this example, only the door is painted red.
This is most traditional and I prefer this color placement.
Notice that the saddle or threshold is painted the door color. This color is okay only because of the brick color. Typically, I would recommend it be painted gray or the color of the porch floor. The saddle should not be the door color.
Is There Really a Wrong & Right Way to Paint Your Front Door?
My answer is – not really. If you have an antique varnished door, sidelights, and trim around them, do not paint anything. Leave them as they have been all these years. I have seen original entrances with everything stained and varnished historically, although it has been very rare.
With a painted door, I definitely do recommend painting the trim surrounding the door and sidelights. Why would you have one color trim all over the house and a different color trim at the entrance? It doesn’t make sense.
Door Colors and Type of Paint
A varnished door looks good in both satin and semi-gloss. Again, a Spar varnish will protect the wood from ultra-violet rays from the sun. Gloss is easier to clean. Satin will make the door look more like an antique.
For door paint, use gloss or even high gloss.
The Colonial restaurant used in the example does not have a nice red colored door. A very good red to have with a white house and black shutters is Benjamin Moore Heritage Red . This is a very popular and traditional red for a house like this. Saturated colors are very good. Consider a bright lemon yellow, blue, orange etc.
Save Energy with a Storm Door or Screen Door
No. I strongly do not recommend a storm door. There is no storm door that will look good. A storm door is unwelcoming and cheapens the look of a house. Think of movies or commercials you watched. If the house is to portray elegance there will never be a storm door. The money you save on heat is not worth the cost of a bad appearance.
Additionally a glass storm door that gets the sun can warp your door because of the heat that can build up in them. Read more about that here.
Screen doors have a lot of benefits but again they do NOT add to curb appeal. A Victorian screen door does have a homey Norman Rockwell look and feel to it but not an elegant look if that is what you prefer. One option if you really need a screen door is to consider removing it during the cold months. I have a screen door on my back door. I remove if during the winter not for appearance but just to get it out of the way when it’s not needed.