Q: I want to paint my master bedroom, but I don’t know what to do about the sliding closet doors. I know I can paint the Masonite, but I am unsure about the trim, which appears to be a powder-coated metal.

The painted trim that I have seen looks pretty tacky, but then the doors are pretty tacky, so I’m considering replacing them. A casual perusal of a couple of home stores, however, has revealed only mirrored doors (yuck) – so I am wondering what you would suggest.

Besides my limited budget and skills, the configuration of the room means only sliders will work. There are two pairs and no guarantee that the openings are straight. I would like them to visually disappear.

A: Kevin has a similar project in store for his daughter Katie’s bedroom. The difference is that right now, Katie has no closet doors.

(Kevin says that’s the way Katie wanted it. Bill says that closet doors were low on the list when he and Kevin were building the house and that they just never got around to putting them in.) But things are starting to change. Doors have been requested, and Kevin is just starting to present options to a 9-year-old. One thing for certain: Katie feels the same about the mirrored doors available in home centers. They are “yuck.”

If you decide to keep your existing doors, the metal frames surrounding the Masonite will paint just fine. In fact, the paint will flow on them better than on the Masonite itself.

As with any painting job, preparation is the key. Using 220-grit sandpaper, lightly sand all the surfaces of the door and frames. Pay special attention to scratches on the metal and feather them out with the sandpaper. Wipe the dust off with a damp rag or tack cloth, and then paint.

Use paint with a satin sheen. This will help the paint flow uniformly and go a long way toward hiding brush marks. Consider applying the paint to the flat surfaces of the doors with a paint pad rather than a brush. We’ve found that applying paint this way makes the job quicker and produces a better finish.

Using an oil-based paint also will help make brush marks disappear. You’ll have to wait longer for it to dry, and you’ll have to use mineral spirits for cleanup, but it’s worth it.

This job probably will not require a primer coat but probably will require two coats of finish – especially if you change the color. Naturally, painting the doors the same color as the walls will allow the doors to disappear visually as much as possible.

If you decide to change the doors, we recommend slabs that match or complement your existing bedroom door. Slabs are doors without mortises for hinges or holes drilled for locksets. They are available, pre-primed, from home centers and lumberyards.

They are either solid core (heavy) or hollow core (much lighter) and can be purchased with a flat face or with a variety of raised panel designs. The cost should be less than $50.

Slabs come in standard door widths and heights. Widths range from 24 to 36 inches and the standard height is 80 inches. So a standard 5-foot opening will require two 30-inch slabs for replacement doors. If the opening is a little less, so much the better. If your opening is not standard, custom slabs are available.

With luck you will be able to use your existing hardware. If not, hardware is readily available. The hardware is easily adjustable.

Bill and Kevin Burnett will attempt to answer your questions, although the volume of e-mail sometimes makes this impossible. Contact them at sweat-equity@comcast.


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