Paint and Repair Closet Doors
You probably don't think regularly about your closet doors. Keeping them maintained and looking good, though, can boost your home's overall appeal. Plus, simple maintenance makes it easier to get in and out of your closet.
Some quick repairs and a fresh coat of paint can easily bring a worn closet door back to life. And, it's a simple project for anyone with basic know-how around the house.
First, stop by your local True Value hardware store for all the tools, products and expert advice you need to start right.
Step 1. Make Repairs
Whether your closet doors fold, slide or simply open and close on hinges, you should make repairs, if needed, before you go about refinishing them.
Bi-fold closet doors are constructed of two separate pieces connected by hinges; each bi-fold door is anchored by spring-mounted pins on the top and bottom of one side of the door depending on which side the closet opens on. The other side of the door slides on a track along the top of the closet, and is connected by a roller pin. Often, over time, the doors can become misaligned and pop out of the track. When this happens, it is probably because the top anchor has moved just a bit — enough so that the door goes out of alignment. This usually requires just a readjustment but can also mean it's time for replacement of the parts. Open the door all the way and check the top anchor pin to see if its sliding bracket has loosened and moved out of position. If it has, move it back so that the edge of the door is perpendicular with the jamb and retighten the bracket in that position. You may need to remove the door to evaluate the situation. To do this, open the door all the way and lift up with both hands. The top pivot anchor will depress (because it is spring-loaded) and the bottom pin will slip out of its bracket. Then pull the door out toward you. The roller should snap out easily. You can re-hang the door by following this procedure in reverse and then depress and snap the roller pin into the track. In most cases, the track will not need to be replaced unless it has become warped or otherwise damaged. You can find all the needed replacement parts, including full kits at your local True Value hardware store. Follow the manufacturer's directions for proper installation.
If your door has slats or louvers, these are susceptible to accidental breakage. You don't have to replace the whole door though; you can simply repair the slats. Just sand away the broken end or ends of the slat that connect to the rest of the closet door using fine-grit sandpaper, making sure to smooth away any splinters and rough edges. Apply some wood glue to the ends of the slat and then push it back in place and hold it for a minute or two until the glue begins to harden and adheres. Then let the glue dry completely, as recommended by the manufacturer.
Sliding closet doors work similarly to folding doors and commonly become misaligned and stuck, or skip off of their tracks. If you notice a sticking door or if it has come off of the track, determine the source of the problem and try to fix it before the problem gets worse. Don't force a sliding door. One typical cause is a dirty or obstructed track. Remove dust, dirt and debris from the track using a vacuum or hand vac and a damp rag. Often screws can become loose and begin to pop up which obstruct the track. Simply tighten the screws with a screwdriver. If the door sticks or is hard to slide, try tightening the track or check to see if the rollers have worn or been otherwise damaged. Use a lubricant such as WD-40 or 3-in-1 multipurpose oil on parts that work but require a little assistance to move. Lightly hammer out any dents along the track that might cause the door to stick. Doors often can stick due to a misaligned floor guide. If it has moved out of place, fix it by putting it back in the right position or replace it, if needed. As with bi-fold closet doors, sliding door hardware and replacement parts can be purchased separately and in kits.
A standard door, properly hung, should have a gap between the door and the frame of about the width of a nickel all the way around when closed. If the frame goes out of square, or wasn't hung correctly, the door can begin to stick. Find out where the door is touching the frame making it stick. If it gets stuck at the top, you can trim the top of the door by removing it and trimming it with a circular saw. In some cases, you might be able to sand it down with a belt sander. This comes in handy, as you want to trim off just enough so that it stops sticking. You can use this same technique to fix the bottom of the door if the bottom is where the door is sticking, or dragging on the floor. If the door sticks on the top or bottom edge, opposite of the hinge, check the hinge to see if its screws just need to be tightened. If it sticks on the hinge side and the screws are tight, it might be that the hinge mortises are set too deep or the hinge is bent. If the hinge is bent, replace it. If the hinge is set too deep you can remove the hinge screws, add a piece of thin cardboard behind the leaf of the hinge and then replace the screws. Tighten all hardware on the door's lockset if it is loose; replace a broken or malfunctioning lockset. Nicks, dents and scratches on wood doors can be filled and covered up with wood putty.
Step 2. Remove and Clean the Door Surface
No matter what kind of door it is, you should first remove it before doing any painting. Remove the door from its hinges or tracks. Place the door on sawhorses or a similar structure to keep it flat and off the ground. Use a mild solution of detergent and water, and scrub it thoroughly with a sponge or soft brush. Wipe it down immediately with a towel to dry it and then let it air dry for a few minutes longer.
While accidents can happen and are unforeseeable, another way to avoid a chain saw safety incident is to keep the tool maintained and running smoothly. Because of their mechanical parts, chain saws are susceptible to problems caused by regular use, poor maintenance, as well as dust and debris accumulation.
- Remove all of the door hardware or cover it completely with painter's tape.
- Keep all of your materials and equipment away from children and pets.
- Before you begin, put on a pair of work gloves to protect your hands from splinters, chemicals and paint.
- Keep all of your materials and equipment away from children and pets.
Step 3. Scrape and Sand
Use a 1"-wide paint scraper to remove any excess flaking paint or finish, and then smooth the edges between the painted and unpainted areas with medium-grit sandpaper. Then switch to fine-grit sandpaper and sand until the surface is smooth. Dirt isn't the only thing that prevents paint from sticking — so does a glossy surface. You can remove the luster and smooth any imperfections in the door's surface by lightly sanding it with fine-grit sandpaper. Remove sanding dust with a tack cloth or duster.
- Before you begin scraping, be sure to use a new scraper blade or sharpen the existing blade with a fine metal file. An extra-sharp blade will make your job a lot easier and reduce the possibility of damaging the surface.
- Because you will be sanding and painting, make sure you have adequate ventilation where you're working. Minimize airborne dust by setting up an easy exhaust system. Consider placing a box fan in a nearby window and open another window just outside the room. Take frequent breaks if necessary.
For doors with slats, use a chemical paint stripper to remove paint on and between the slats. A chemical stripping agent is a convenient method of removing paint from the slats and any crevices or other hard-to-reach areas. Depending on the kind of stripper you use, apply it with a clean cloth or paintbrush, or spray it directly onto the wood. It will begin dissolving the old finish almost immediately. Let it sit on the surface for about 10 minutes or whatever duration suggested by the manufacturer. Use a plastic paint scraper and/or a sponge to remove the old finish.
- When working with chemical stripping agents, work outside or in a well-ventilated space and wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
Once you've removed the old finish from the surface, use a clean rag to wipe down the surface so that the door is completely bare. Let it dry.
Step 4. Prime
Apply a coat of interior latex primer using a paintbrush. For louvered doors, place the door on sawhorses with the slats "down", or pointed toward you. Use a 1"- to 2"-wide paintbrush (try to match the width to the width of your louvers) and start at the top louver on one side, painting into the middle. Put more primer on your brush and then start from the opposite side of the louver, working back toward the middle, overlapping the wet edge of your first brush strokes. Continue working this way until you have covered the louvers with primer. You may need an even smaller paintbrush to get full coverage in crevices and other hard-to-reach spots. Use the 2" brush to apply primer to the shutter frame. Fill in any missed spots and smooth any drips. Let that side dry and then follow the procedure for the opposite side. Let that coat dry completely.
Step 5. Paint
Choose True Value EasyCare® latex paint in the color and finish of your choice. Use an angled sash brush and start with any decorative features, working from the inside of the door out. Always paint out of corners, not into them, to avoid creating paint deposits and clumps. Paint in the direction of the wood grain.
To replace the chain, follow the chain saw's manufacturer instructions carefully. A loose chain can become dangerous. Generally, you will remove the bar to put the new chain in place. You should be able to pull the chain up about a ¼" from the bar if the chain is on correctly.
Paint the edges. Start with the top and bottom edges. For doors with slats, follow the same technique with paint as you did with primer in Step 4.
- Watch corners for paint build-up and dab with the tips of brush bristles if necessary. If you see paint runs and drags, remove and smooth them with an upward motion of the brush. Lightly tip off the finish with a dry brush.
When you're finished, make sure the paint cures for as long as possible before using the door (at least 1 or 2 days).
Step 6. Clean Up
Clean your brushes with warm, soapy water. When the water runs clear, shake out excess liquid. Put the brush back in its protective sleeve or hang it on a nail or hook. Clean up paint trays, and if you used tray liners, just toss them in the trash. Pick up drop cloths. Re-install the door and replace any hardware you may have removed after the paint has completely dried.
Great work! Your doors look refreshed and renewed. For the rest of your paint projects, visit your local True Value hardware store for all the tools, products and expert advice you need to start right.