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How to paint dark stained doors {before & after}

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Sharing how to paint over stained doors with white paint and you are going to love the results! Do you have old dark wood stained doors from the 1970’s? Today I am sharing how to paint over dark stained doors with latex paint. This house was built in the early 1970’s and slowly but surely, we have been updating the entire house. The last of the dark stained doors were painted white a couple weeks ago. This post has been updated and features our old house that we sold a while back. 

how to paint over dark stained wood with white latex paint

How to paint over stained wood

Can you paint over stained wood? Well yes you can! Painting over wood stain can be a daunting and very time consuming task especially if you do not prep the door properly before adding paint. The doors in our old house were all dark wood stain, dated and ugly! 
how to paint dark stained doors

Here is the stained door before we painted it white.

how to paint dark stained doors

We lightly sanded with a fine grit and applied two coats of Zinsser 123 latex primer. Let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next.

I use frog tape to tape around areas that I do not want to get paint on like the hinges. If you are able to remove the door and hinges and paint the door on saw horses then that is best but for me, that was not an option. A small door or trim foam roller is best for painting doors. The foam roller leaves a smooth professional finish.

You can see my painting stained bedroom door white tutorial here as well for more information.  

green Frogtape and 4 inch smooth roller brush

how to paint dark stained doors-2

What kind of paint do you use to paint over stained wood?

Once the two coats of Zinsser primer were dry, we applied two coats of Extra White semi gloss Emerald Interior paint by Sherwin-Williams.

how to paint dark stained doors-3

We couldn’t just paint the door because once the door was all pretty, the rest of the hallway and baseboards looked terrible! We added two fresh coats of Extra White Emerald Interior (semi gloss) by Sherwin-Williams to each door as well as the surrounding trim.

how to paint dark stained doors

We are in the process of having the plugs changed and hopefully the remainder of the hallway will be finished soon.

how to paint dark stained doors

This hallway is difficult to photograph as there isn’t much natural light. As you can see, the white paint on the door looks so much fresher and cleaner than the old dark stained door. I know there are so many people out there with dark stained wood trim and doors that would love to update their home and this option is definitely less expensive verses replacing doors and trim.

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  1. The doors look so much better! I want to do this with my hallway doors but the cat is forever scratching them… why do I have pets again??? lol


  2. Thank you. I have a house full of those dark stained doors.

  3. I have these in my kitchen (pantry has folding doors) and want to paint them now. I would love to see some more examples of what others have done. Thanks for the step by step!

  4. Looks so good. Thank you for posting. Your doors are just like ours and so are the plugs. I am in the process of sanding my trim in our house. I did our garage first just in case it didn’t turn out the way we wanted and then I thought it was so much work I wouldn’t do it. However, ever time I looked at my garage I loved it. So a year or two later I am undertaking the inside of our house.
    Thanks for your post.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know, I think the wood looked better. You are lucky to have solid wood raised panel doors. Most houses in the 70s had crappy hollow core flat doors.

  6. Rachel Cavill says:

    Can you put a link of the latex primer?
    I can only find the water base one?

  7. Looks great! I have been contemplating doing this. Did you also paint your windows and window trim white? Tje windows are the one thing that’s holding me back. I just feel it’s such a huge undertaking.

    1. WE did not as yes, it’s a huge undertaking but we have dark trim in our new home (these doors were in our old house) that I would LOVE to paint white!

      1. I’m going to be painting my stained doors and trim as well. I was wondering if you had any problems with the stain bleeding through paint over time?

        1. These doors are in our old house (we moved 2 years ago) but they were perfect when we moved.

  8. Hi! I ‘ve been wanting to do this to our doors but I’ve been hesitant. They look amazing so I am starting mine now. I’m just confused about how many coats you put on. You said you gave them two coats of the Extra white then added to fresh coats. So does each door have four coats or was two sufficient?


  9. My painter told me to use oil based primer on stained doors or they will chip. Did you have this issue? He said it takes a few years but will happen.

    1. Hi, we used latex paint with a latex primer and have never had a problem. Oil base is definitely durable and good too 🙂

  10. Did you spray paint the doors or hand brush them? I am planning to take on a similar project soon. Thank you.