Painting doors can be challenging, but needn't be difficult with proper preparation and technique. This article includes lots of handy hints to help you get a great look from your painted doors.


Before fitting a new internal or external door there is likely to be some preparation involved. Very often doorways are not perfectly regular in shape, and they may not be standard sizes. It will therefore probably be necessary to trim the door to fit. If you are using our made to measure doors then the size should be exactly right.

Be sure to get the door to open the right way. Usually you want the door to open into a room, and if there is a light switch near the doorway, make sure it is on the side nearest the handle, not the side with the hinges.


Measure the width of the doorway at the top and the bottom, as there may be a discrepancy, particularly in older houses which may have shifted slightly. Subtract a couple of millimetres from each side to get the width the door should be in order to fit snugly, but still be able to open freely. Mark the door accordingly so that you can trim it to the correct width. Measure and mark out the height in the same way, although you will need to leave bigger gap at the bottom to ensure clearance. This may be 5-10mm depending on whether it has to clear a carpet or not. It is better to take too little off than too much - you can always take more off if necessary.


To trim the door, clamp it firmly in place making sure that the clamps are padded with cloth or cardboard to protect the surface of the door. Use a plane evenly along the whole length of the door. Do not try to plane a section at a time, as you will end up with an uneven surface. Once the sides are trimmed to fit you can do the same with the ends. As you will be planing across the grain of the stiles (the upright sections of the door) you should plane inwards from the corners to avoid splitting the wood.

Fitting the Hinges

Two hinges should be enough for most internal doors, but if there is likely to be a big temperature or humidity difference on each side of the door it may be a good idea to fit three to help prevent warping. If you are replacing an existing door, you will need to ensure that you fit the hinges so that they match up with the old hinge mortises (recesses) in the frame. Fit the door in place, using wedges or screwdrivers to hold it up off the ground to the correct height, and mark the positions of the recesses. If it is a brand new door then you will need to fit the hinges to the door, and then make the corresponding recesses in the door frame.

Measure in the appropriate distance (about 15-20cm) from each end of the door and mark off the position for the outer edge of each hinge. Then draw around the the hinges on the edge of the door. Finally, mark the depth of the hinge plates on the face of the door. If using three hinges the third one should be equidistant between outer two. Carefully chisel out shallow recesses in which to fit the hinges. To do this, with the door clamped firmly in place, cut into the door around the lines you have marked. Then make several cuts across the grain into the section to be removed, making sure not to go deeper than the line you have marked on the face for the thickness of the hinge plate. You should then be able to chisel out the recess, keeping the chisel at as shallow an angle as possible.

Put the open hinges in place and mark the positions for the screw holes. Drill narrow pilot holes, and then screw the hinges in. The next step is to make the recesses in the frame (assuming they are not already present). Put the door in place but open, again using wedges to hold it to the correct height, and draw guide lines for the recesses. There should be a slight gap between the open door and the frame, to give it room to open and close. Repeat the process of chiselling out the mortises. You are then ready to screw the door in place.

If the door does not open and close properly it may be because the hinge recesses are not the correct depth. If they are too shallow, the thickness of the hinge plates may prevent the door closing and so you may need to remove the hinges and deepen the mortises. If they are too deep, it will put strain on the hinges as they are pulled in opposite directions. In this case the recesses may b packed out with thin card or something similar under the hinge plate.


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