I need to repaint my aluminum garage door but want to use the right paint / process to do it.

  • Will an oil based paint like rustoleum work?
  • Is there a special primer that I need to get this done the right way?
    • I don't want the paint flaking off.

My garage door got a bit messed up when I sealed the driveway a few years ago - splattered tar on it. I tried using "oil-flo" solvent to clean the tar off and it seemed to work... also stripped some of the paint off.

The best bet now is just to repaint the whole thing!

  • If bare aluminum it should be primed with zinc chromate then painted unless using a paint made for aluminum.
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 7, 2017 at 19:57
  • You plan to do proper "prep", right? You're doing prep correctly when it's 90% of the work. On tar, I just use plain paint thinner, which doesn't attack cured paint. Those "fancy products" down at the home improvement store are usually designed to remove dollars from your wallet. Nov 7, 2017 at 20:07
  • @Harper I definitely want to prep correctly! It sounds like I need to clean the surface (dishwash soap, scrub, pressure wash) then sand... Then I should be able to paint? Rustoleum has a paint + primer combo, but is that the way to go? It's getting cold, so I'm not sure how long I'll have to get it all done, two coats might be pushing it.
    – Shrout1
    Nov 7, 2017 at 20:12
  • @EdBeal It's been previously painted; I believe it came that way from the factory.
    – Shrout1
    Nov 7, 2017 at 20:13
  • @shrout1 more the other way round, knock the loose paint off, swiff off easy dirt, scuff-sand to remove gloss (give the surface a microscopic roughness) then washdown to remove oils, that way you take the dust with you. Then quick wipedown with your primer's solvent (2-cloth ideal) and you're ready to paint. As far as paint+primer, that's marketing snake oil. Use the best primer for the surface then use a paint compatible with that primer. Well, depends... how long do you want the paint to last? Nov 7, 2017 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


I'm going to make this a little simpler than some of the comments you have gotten and say that it's really as easy as priming and painting with a good quality exterior house paint.

I would clean the surface well from dirt, oils and other contaminants and then prime with a exterior oil based primer such as this Zinsser Cover Stain primer (random selection I'm familiar with, but just an example). It comes in quarts and gallons and will probably be cheaper than a specialty metal paint.

Once primed, you can use a quality exterior house paint tinted to any color. This is a very common way to paint the doors to match house and trim colors, and should be a long lasting solution.

  • My wife just painted ours with this technique. She used Zinsser 123 and Behr semi-gloss enamel. The results are fantastic.
    – isherwood
    Nov 8, 2017 at 1:40

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