Do’s and Dont’s for Painting your Doors Black

In my last post about black shower doors, I added a paragraph about flow later in the day, so if you’re considering this product and you missed it, go read the post again.

Also, I have received many requests to post my opinion on painting doors black.

So, since the planet is moving from grey to black, let’s get started:

DON’T be afraid to try it if you think it might work in your house

Lauren Liess

Okay so I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever–in 10 years of writing this blog–said these words: “It’s only paint, if it doesn’t work you can paint it again!”.

I’m thinking NEVER.

I don’t throw that comment around lightly because actually, painting your house is expensive.

Painting one room over a few times–maybe you or your spouse is doing it–okay that’s cheap enough, but truly, hiring painters to paint your vaulted hallways or living rooms, painting the trim, kitchen cabinets, not so much.

But a door? That seems easy enough right? I mean of course you can mess up anything, but certainly painting a door would seem like less of a commitment.

Hey, it just occurred to me that an even easier way to see if this would work would be to go out and buy 3 yards of cheap, black fabric and hang it on your door. This way you can see in advance if you’ll like it.

Okay so lets start this tutorial by examining why the black door in this first image (above) works.

Because the black is repeated in the frames and the area rug and the pale floors provide a nice hit of contrast.

This entry (below) has just the right amount of black as well. And black always look great with orange or red brick.

Remodelaholic

DO paint your hallway doors black if you have light hardwood

Decorpad

This hallway (above) with light, classic and timeless (with barely any grey) hardwood floors is chic and elegant.

Don’t go overboard by introducing too much black

Remodelista

Black doors with dark floors, or this much black trim (above), or certainly not with black walls too, will immediately take your black quota over the tipping point.

If you’re not sure about what I’m talking about, take a look at both these hallways below. One has just the right amount of black in it (right), the other feels dark and heavy (left).

First Dibs | House and Home

This is just my opinion, but I learned my lesson about adding too much black years ago here.

DO add contrast when decorating with black

Does your entry look like this one (below)?

With the fabulous crisp white chairs flanking the door and the white tile floor inset with black accent tiles?

If so, then yes paint the walls black too. And notice the walls are also lacquered so the light bounces around, that’s an important step too.

Here’s another hallway with black walls, but notice everything that makes this work. The pretty doors, architecture, styling, white drapes with black banding.

These are all the ways in which black looks right instead of harsh.

Homeyou

Or if you have french doors along with your dark floors and lots of white around them both (below). The look is immediately lighter and just fabulous again.

Architectural Digest

But notice the last three images are not usually in the average house on the street.

DO keep your colours fresh with black doors

Crisp colours like black work best with white, off-white and greys including brighter, or more dramatic colours (below).

House Beautiful

If you have hallways with pink beige carpet, your doors need to be brown, not black.

Earthy colours work best with browns and creams.

And don’t get stuck on black doors. This image (below) has hardwood floors, but it would be just as pretty if your carpet was pink beige (which a lot of people have).

First, fresh blues are the ONLY clean colours that work with pink beige carpet. And the blue green walls relate to the teal doors.

Link bait site pic (someone please tell me how to find the original image in google image search)

Let me know if I’ve answered all your questions about when to introduce a black door into your house.

If you need help with your paint colours, check out our eDesign packages here.

Related posts:

The Shocking Truth About Too Much Black

Is Black the New Grey? (Why yes it is)

Ask Maria: About Kitchen Cabinet Uppers and Lowers in Different Colours

How to Decorate with Black and How Not to Decorate with It

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  1. Love this post. I’ve been debating about painting my French doors black. It’s a 12’ length of 2 doors and 2 fixed glass that’s solid clear glass, no mutton’s. I get a lot of light, 9’ white shiplap ceilings, I’m worried it’s too much black though. Any advice?

    • I had a similar debate over my own, similar French doors. The window frames in my (built in the 80s) house are black so I thought it could work. I used a super basic paint app called Let’s Draw to take a photo of my area in question and draw black lines over the French door frames. And for me it was a clear NOPE!! There are enough dark/black elements in that part of the living space and adding the black door frames made it too busy for me. It was immediately obvious once I “photoshopped” it in. Perhaps this will help you or someone else reading to preview their own doors.

    • Well if you don’t repeat them anywhere it will immediately look like too much black. However other than that if you don’t overdo the rest of the black in the room it could be great! Maria

  2. Not exactly related but I’ll post it here anyway. Our house is a brick Dutch Colonial. Almost 100 years old. The brick has aged and now has a patina from age and probably air pollution which is akin to a black glaze on cherry cabinets. White trim and black shutters. We are painting the front door and storm door black. I taped 3 black poster boards to the door to try it out and it looks great because a classic (not boring) color combination. Evergreen landscaping and an ivy wreath on the door tie it in to the rest of the curb appeal. Can’t wait until this is done and shows off a nice big brass handle and knocker. So if anyone is afraid of painting their interior doors then maybe an exterior door would work for them. Just thinking out loud.

    Karen

    • Yes it does, someone else send that to me thanks! But I still need to know how to find it. I know how to search for an image in google but how do you find the ORIGINAL image? That’s what I need to know so I don’t have to do this every time! Thanks Tip! Maria

      • As mentioned by “Tip”, if you go the site TinEye and load the photo, they will provide a list of all the places the image has been used in seconds. In this case, there were 559 results! As Tin also noted, the oldest one is usually the original. So, you find the earliest post – you can sort by oldest (this one was posted in March 2017) – and then follow that link. It led me to Pinterest where someone had pinned the original from the Sherwin Williams site. Followed that pin link and arrived at the page Tip subsequently provided. Took maybe five minutes overall? Crazy that this picture was used that many times without attribution!

  3. You’re right about the hallway comparison in that the one on the right does black well, with a light touch and the one on the left is darker and heavier. But I find both of them gorgeous. But I do like darker, dramatic and moody spaces as much as I like light-filled bright ones.

    • I was thinking the same thing. I love me a moody room. I find I don’t want to spend much time in them though. Like Maria said it’s a matter of personal opinion.

  4. Maria – even though I think black doors can be pretty especially with whites and grey .
    But …I did that once ( and we don’t have any children at home )
    It takes work to keep them pristine.
    Dust shows easily on black doors they needed be to dusted every day .
    Finger prints shows up let’s just say black doors everything shows .
    I’d find a pretty color if I wasn’t using white doors and do that.
    But would never again do painted black interior
    Doors and outside even worse .

  5. Thank you! Great, practical tips on using black. I have been curious to try out and this will give good guidance on how might pull off correctly.
    This article also had two other tidbits (below) that were helpful about pink beige. Now that pink beige is being seen around in design decor, would love a post devoted to it that talks positively (beyond it being most limiting undertone) about how to work with the undertone in decorating…either because you still have some left over from Tuscan brown trend or it is making waves again.
    –If you have hallways with pink beige carpet, your doors need to be brown, not black.
    –fresh blues are the ONLY clean colours that work with pink beige carpet.

  6. Here in the city, black doors would be like black cars: WAY too hard to keep clean. They would need to be dusted every day: nice to look at but high maintenance. Not a problem in these high-end homes in the photos, but I’m too frugal to have maid service.
    They are beautiful though, especially the French door in photo #2.

    • @Loren: Agree … beware! As currently I have a very dark brown front door that faces North plus my home has a porch and its paint has held up very well, whereas the same color/paint on a door that has a Southern exposure (with lots of sun) aged very quickly in appearance plus it eventually ‘blistered’ ‘ to a degree. -Brenda-

  7. After a great deal of consideration I painted my interiors doors black and am so thrilled with the results. (although I did have to change my door handles from black to gold because they were too hard to spot at night). Yes, they do show dust but white showed dust too. I took the plunge over 5 years ago and not once did I ever regret going dark. I get compliments on them all the time. I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

  8. Lots of good advice on painting black! I love the drama of black anything but it sure is easy to overdo! Case in point IMHO is the black room with the white chairs above. To me it becomes caverness! I have a client who just installed new doors and painted the outside black and the inside white. After seeing them painted I wish we would have done black on both sides because she has enough black accents inside to balance them out with picture frames, chest and light wood floors etc. She decided that they would be too much upkeep with dust, fingerprints etc.

  9. I was just thinking of this! After you designed my fabulous black and white kitchen, I am now thinking of how to bring black down the hallway and have been thinking of painting the doors black. So, do you paint both sides or just one side?

  10. I’ve also been contemplating painting my interior doors black, dark gray or navy (interior color scheme is blues with white) but my question is do you have to do ALL the doors for cohesiveness? My first floor alone includes four sets of double doors (two closets, pantry, between the kitchen and laundry/back hall) plus a powder room, basement door, inside of the back door as well as a door into the garage. My thinking is it needs to be all or nothing but it’s a lot and that’s not including upstairs doors (bedrooms, bathrooms, linen closet). Thoughts?

    • I think you have to pay attention to sight lines. . . if it’s a door at the end of a hallway it could be more important than the rest, etc. And heavens no you don’t have to do the upstairs if you’ve done the downstairs 🙂 Thanks for your comment Barbara! xo

  11. Great post Maria, I painted a clients doors black about 9 years ago with white walls. Looked great then. Looks current now!
    I need to get photos of that home!

    How to search for an image in google:
    On my PC I open up google.ca or .com, in the top right, it says images, click.
    New page opens up.
    Click on the camera in the search bar,
    click open upload an image.
    Click, search my image.
    Ta Da, it pops up 95% of the time.
    Hope this helps. xo

  12. My personal preference with black doors are when they are used with white walls & natural wood accents. In my small home the contrast would be overwhelming. And you know how I feel about anything that causes me more housekeeping. 😣
    Ain’t nobody got time for more dusting.

  13. I’m loving all this black! The *almost* blacks are quite popular—can you talk about how to chose whites/off-whites that will go with these blacks? Do warm whites go with blacks? Or mostly cool whites?

    • Either one, so make sure you consider what colour your fixed whites are in your home before you choose the trim! Maria

  14. Shiny black interior paint or any glossy like formula will show every dry wall imperfection and most houses aren’t all that good. Also, l love black exterior doors, but professional painter says a west facing door with black paint will soon have you thinking nightmares!

  15. Right as always, Maria ! Buying a yard of black fabric is easier than painting anything.
    And in two years, when the black paint is dinged/faded … then what? Gives me a
    headache just thinking about it….

  16. Any post that leads with a Lauren Liess room is getting clicked through by me 😉 Great job of showing as well as telling (as usual) Maria! Our contemporary partly-renovated house has medium wood floors, off white walls for the most part, and old orangey wood hollow core flat doors that we’ll be replacing as budget allows. As the house came with black steel window frames I know black doors could work… I’m totally going to drape them in black fabric to see how it feels in person!

  17. Our HOA decided to paint all our front doors black, and while it did give the complex an updated look, I wasn’t prepared to have to wipe it down so frequently. They show everything!

  18. Brigette in France

    Love it! Great examples. My sister in law has black doors: front and interior doors. I thought Kelly Green would have looked great in the entrance area- it’s quite busy, there are doors on each wall. I almost cried when I discovered her grey stripy wallpaper 🙁

  19. Informative post, Maria! Myself I do love the visual appearance of black doors but personally would be hesitant to do it. Reason being, I do ALL of my own painting and I currently have a very dark navy on my interior vestibule door and my study/office is done in the similar colour however as both will be changed out shorty to a white; I know there will be lots of priming to do. To conclude; as a warning make sure ‘black’ is for you if you are hiring a professional as it may prove to be costly so take Maria’s advice and invest in a few yardages of black fabric to try it first. -Brenda-
    P.S.: As it is a dark colour and particularly if using a ‘gloss finish’ , remember it will show every blemish if not done properly.

    • Matte black lacquered doors .
      Glossy is really a lot harder to care for .
      A door finish should look like a cabinet finish .
      Best bet is a shop and a spray lacguer finish

  20. Black fabric–to test an area, such as doors–sure works….but I hung shiny black GARBAGE BAGS! (I’m cheap…..and they were on hand)

  21. I painted my doors black left the molding around them white and had silver polished door knobs…they looked great and yes it took me awhile to paint them all but man did they turn out great I got so many compliments. When I wanted to paint them my husband said I don’t think so….so we compromised on doing the kitchen pantry doors first to see if we would even like them black and to his surprise he really like it. It took me 3 weeks to paint 17 doors I took my time and they looked great no brush marks I used Flotrel and boy did it make a difference…I still say that painting them helped me sell my house faster.

  22. Aloha Maria, I have a black paint + earthy tones question for you: I just went to the Sherwin Williams store yesterday (I got samples from your new build package), and I mentioned my interest in black paint, possibly for doors, and that I wanted to get a sample of a black that would coordinate with my SW Natural Linen walls and Egret White Walls (both with Alabaster trim, ceilings, and millwork), and the SW employee basically says, “Black coordinates with everything.” But I remembered this recent blog post of yours, and I thought, I’d like to see an example of when black does not coordinate with earthy tones. I’m not sure, but I think maybe Natural Linen and Egret White might both qualify as earthy tones? So would black be a mistake with those neutrals?

    • Hi Emily, Great question, I would never steer you wrong. Pale earth tones work with black which is what you have.

      And ‘which earth tones’ work and don’t work with black is not a quick straightforward answer. All colour rules can be broken with good styling and repeating the colours that don’t seem to work and now suddenly work.

      However, if you have a hallway with dark pink beige, builders carpet, brown would look better than black. And if you took that same hallway with any undertone grey carpet, black doors would look better. However, both of these rules can be broken if you had artwork in that hallway that had them relate nicely.

      Hope that helps, Maria