how to paint door frames

This post will focus on how to paint interior door frames. There are many different components of a door including casing, lining or frame. The frame that an interior door is fitted to, manufactured with a built-in door stop, is called a door casing. If the door stop is separate, this is called a lining, but both are commonly known as a door frame. You can see a full glossary of common mouldings terms on our blog.

Painting door frames takes a lot of care and patience. However, can be quick and easy if you are well prepared. The material used will have an impact on the amount of preparation time needed before painting.

If you opt for SAM primed moisture resistant MDF door frames, your preparation time for painting will be reduced significantly compared to that of softwood timber.  SAM moisture resistant MDF door frames come with a trenched head as standard, with the option of requesting hinge and latch recessing (minimum order quantities apply) and they will only require a light sanding (denibbing) before painting and in between coats.


Ensure your space is well protected before you start painting. Lay down some dust sheets on the floor and use masking tape to protect the hinges and wall edges surrounding the door. If needed, you can remove your door from the hinges to avoid it getting damaged or covered in paint. If you can’t remove the door, you can protect it with a sheet of plastic.  We recommend painting the door frame after it has been installed in case any wear and tear when installing the frame affects the overall result.

If you have chosen SAM moisture resistant MDF door frames, they will have been supplied already primed. We would suggest denibbing the surface with sandpaper (approximately 280-320 grit) to create a key for the paint to stick to.

If you are using softwood timber, it will need to be treated with a knotting solution to prevent knots from bleeding through the paint coating.  The solution should be applied 2-3 times before using a wood primer and will need at least 15 minutes drying time between each coat.  You may also need to fill resin pockets or surface defects with wood filler.  After using the knotting solution and wood filler, the timber will need to be rubbed with sandpaper before priming (approximately 180-220 grit).  A wood primer should then be applied and allowed to dry for 1.5 to 2 hours to prepare the timber for the undercoat or decorative paint coatings.  The timber will need to be sanded again as the fibres will soak up the moisture and rise from the surface.


We recommend using a good quality synthetic brush for painting. Your brush should be at least 2”/50mm to allow the brush to fully coat the surface, giving the cleanest possible finish. Holding the brush at the metal band will give you more control, as well as making the painting process easier.

It is good practice to use one application of undercoat before applying the decorative coat.  We recommend giving both SAM primed MDF door frames and softwood timber door frames a light rub with sandpaper between coats.  You may need to apply an extra coat of decorative paint depending on the colour you have selected.

Start by painting the upper inside corner of the door frame, working from the inside out.  A good tip is to angle your brush when painting to allow you to access the smaller nooks of the frame. For the door frame legs, painting up and down in a linear motion allows you to cover more surface. You may paint the head of the door frame with a side to side brushing motion.

It’s important not to apply the paint too thickly, as this may cause it to run or drip. Therefore, creating imperfections on the smooth surface. A well loaded brush should be just the right amount. Similarly, avoid touching the paint before it is fully dry as it may be tacky and will leave a mark.

Allow the paint to dry fully before applying a second coat (if required). Denibbing may be required in between coats to ensure the surface is smooth. Once your topcoat has dried, allow up to 24 hours before re-attaching your doors and hinges.

You’re all set! Freshly painted door frames to revamp your space.

SAM – Home of MDF

If you would rather not paint, there’s also the option of fitting SAM Zero fully finished MDF door frames.  These come with a gloss lacquered finish that doesn’t require further painting. Moreover, SAM Wrap MDF door frames gives you a choice of pre-lacquered real wood veneer options to suit both traditional and contemporary décor.

Want to know how to paint elsewhere in your home? You can read our blog post on ‘How to paint skirting board’ here.