Should I Paint Or Varnish My Front Door?

16 July, 2019

You go in and out of your front door every day, but do you ever stop to consider how much it creates a first impression to visitors and people walking along your street.

Your front door may well provide protection for your house, but it also has a huge impact on its appearance. Real estate agents will always tell you that first impressions count, which means a decision whether to paint or varnish your front door can prove to be a dilemma. At Doorstop we’ve put together some advice to help you make that choice.


A varnish will enhance the natural grain of the wood and soaks into the wood. It will not obscure or block out its texture. It is a clear film and is made from oils and resins and is applied to protect the wood.

Varnish is somewhat more difficult to apply than paint. The wood of your door must be carefully sanded and have a smooth surface, so that it can absorb the finish. Always sand and apply the varnish in the direction of your grain. You may have to apply two coats to achieve the perfect all-over glossy finish. Brush the varnish in a thin, even coat and let it dry before touching.

Paint will stay on the top of the door. This layer on top of the surface, means that very little paint is absorbed into the wood itself. Modern paints dry fast and won’t easily crack.

If you want the door to be durable, you will need to apply several coats. Most people will be advised to use a primer ahead of the paint as it helps the paint to be absorbed and can enhance the colour.


Varnish will wear and get weathered. The chances are that you will need to revarnish every few years especially if that door is south facing into the sun, or is impacted by rain and wind.

Varnished doors require care and maintenance, if you don’t seal them before or immediately after installation, the doors may warp or swell over a period of time. It’s advisable to put on an exterior seal to make it more hardwearing.

A front door which is painted will offer a better protection from wet weather and harsh sunlight. It’s advisable to paint your entrance doors with light colours which reflect rather than absorb the heat. Darker colours will fade quicker. Just like varnish you will need to repaint over time but a painted door lasts longer than a varnished one.


A wood door can make a dramatic statement and can lift the appearance of your house. The grain structure means your door’s natural beauty will shine through, with the varnish only enhancing its appearance. With a varnished wooden door, you can also investigate options such as glass inserts with decorative features.

There are less tones and shades with varnish, whereas with paint, you have a wide variety of colours to choose from. Your painted door may also match the colour of your garage door, therefore enhancing the overall look of your house.

If you need help with making a decision, speak to the door experts. The team at Door Stop can offer you technical, informative advice so you can have that front door you’ve always dreamt about. We have two showrooms, one in Perth and the other in Joondalup so come and visit us today.

Upload images (optional)