Can You Paint Bilco Doors? [And How To]

Bilco doors give you easy access to your basement and allow you to move large items into that area of your home for convenient storage. But they may not always look stylish and may even collect rust over time. So you may be wondering whether you can paint Bilco doors and how to do so. Don't worry; we've found all the answers you need.

Yes, you can paint Bilco doors to ensure your backyard is as beautiful and well-kept as the rest of your home. Doing this will also prevent the metal doors from rusting and protect them from outside elements. You can paint Bilco doors yourself by following these steps:

  1. Clean the surface of the doors.
  2. Scrape off rust and remove paint residue.
  3. Sand the doors.
  4. Fill any holes or gaps.
  5. Prime the doors using oil-based primer.
  6. Apply the first coat of paint.
  7. Apply the second coat of paint after drying.

Now that you know you can paint your Bilco doors, it's important to follow the steps correctly and use the right materials to accomplish your task. Keep reading to find out more about painting Bilco doors.

Close and rusted Bilco doors, Can You Paint Bilco Doors [And How To]

How to Paint Bilco Doors

Giving your Bilco doors a paint job will take less than a day of your time and will only require a few materials - most of which you probably already have. Take a look at what you need to accomplish this task.

What You'll Need

  • Paint (exterior alkyd base enamel)
  • Roller or sprayer
  • Oil-based primer
  • Metal scraper
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Paint remover
  • Bristle brush
  • Mild detergent
  • Rag

1. Clean the surface of the doors.

Bulkhead doors collect a lot of dirt, mildew, moss, and leaves. You will need to clean these off before painting your doors.

Use a bristle brush and mild detergent to scrub the surface, then rinse with water to remove all the debris. Wipe the remaining moisture off with a rag to ensure it's ready for painting.

2. Scrape off rust and remove paint residue.

Use a metal scraper to scrape off any rust. You can also use a sponge or wire brush to do this. Then, apply paint remover to the surface to make it easier to scrape off paint residue.

3. Sand the doors.

For this step, it's best to use medium-grit (50- or 80-grit) sandpaper to make the doors' surface rougher so priming the door is more effective. Sanding will feather the edges of the doors as well. Remember to clean your doors again to remove dust from sanding.

4. Fill any holes or gaps.

Bilco doors are quite tough and sturdy, but they are not without the risk of surface damage. Holes from rust, dents, and scratches may be visible on your doors after some time. Use epoxy fillers to fill holes or dents. It's also best to seal any gaps to prevent leaks and infestations. Check out our helpful guide on how to seal your basement door.

5. Prime the doors using oil-based primer.

This is an important step because using primer ensures you only need one or two coats of paint for full coverage. It also results in a smoother paint job and also prevents flaking. For Bilco doors, using an oil-based primer is ideal.

Check out this oil-based primer on Amazon.

Bilco doors have a primer finish, so if you didn't remove the coat since you'd bought it, you can skip this step.

6. Apply the first coat of paint.

Use a roller or a sprayer to start painting. You can also use a wide brush, but for painting doors, rolling on the paint is usually easier and results in fewer mistakes.

Remember to paint the edges first for a cleaner paint. It's also important to keep the paint coat on the thinner side to avoid brush marks. Leave to dry for a few hours.

7. Apply the second coat of paint after drying.

After the first coat of paint dries, you can add your second coat of paint. You can skip this step if there is enough paint coverage from the first coat. However, it's best to go with two coats to ensure full protection for your doors.

What kind of paint should I use for Bilco doors?

According to Bilco, the right type of paint to use for their doors is exterior alkyd base metal enamel paint. This is because latex or acrylic paint won't adhere well to the primer finish on the surface of the doors.

When choosing paint for your Bilco doors, be sure that the paint is resistant to fading and weathering to prevent frequent reapplications.

Click here to see this alkyd enamel on Amazon.

Should Bilco doors be painted?

Yes. Because bulkhead doors are exposed to harsh weather and outside elements, they tend to suffer a lot of surface damage. Rust also builds up on the doors over time. Painting your Bilco doors will help get rid of and prevent these issues from worsening.

Plus, it's an easy way to upgrade the look of your backyard! Freshly painted, rust-free bulkhead doors will certainly help keep that often-neglected area of your home more pleasing to the eye.

What color to paint bulkhead doors?

This depends on your tastes and the current color scheme of your home. Many homeowners opt for more neutral colors like white or black. Some opt for green or dark brown to blend with the natural hues of their backyard. Others go for red to add a pop of color to their outdoor surroundings.

A red colored Iron Bilco door

How do you get rust off painted Bilco doors?

Rust can affect the appearance and function of your Bilco doors. But the good news is there's an easy way to remove it yourself. Follow these steps to get rust-free bulkhead doors:

  1. Scrub every part with rust. Use a steel wool pad or wire brush to do this.
  2. Soak a sponge in vinegar and apply it to the areas with rust. You can also use a mixture with baking soda and water for this step.
  3. Sand off the remaining rust in a circular motion.
  4. Remove all the residue with a dampened rag and a bit of detergent.
  5. Apply a rust-resistant primer to the surface.

A white painted Bilco door

Can you cover Bilco doors?

Some homeowners may want to keep their Bilco doors out of sight for aesthetic reasons, namely so that it doesn't clash with a beautiful backyard garden or with outdoor dining furniture. Fortunately, there are several ways to conceal your Bilco doors:

Add Plants

If you have a lush garden and a green thumb, you can strategically place new plants to cover your bulkhead doors. You can plant flower beds or shrubs around them or place tall plants or small trees around the sides of the doors.

Use A Screen

There's a wide variety of outdoor screens in different styles and sizes that you can easily install in your backyard to hide your Bilco doors. Opt for wooden or lattice screens as they are less likely to cause damage to your doors in unexpected events. These will also blend in well with the natural appearance of your garden.

Build Around It

Get creative and build an outdoor space around your bulkhead doors! You can place outdoor seating and other types of outdoor furniture that will not only hide the doors but also create extra living space for you and your family. If you have kids, you can also create a play area around the doors.

Go With A Fence

You can also install a fence to keep your Bilco doors hidden. Fences are easy to purchase anywhere, but you can create your own fence if you want an exciting DIY project.

In Closing

Close and rusted Bilco doors

Painting your Bilco doors is a fairly easy task with lots of benefits. Not only will you get to spruce up your backyard, but it will also keep your doors free from rust and other types of damage.

Make sure to set aside a few hours to accomplish the paint job and you won't have to do it again for a long time. It can also be a fun project where you get to pick out paint colors and come up with ways to conceal your doors!

If this article was helpful to you, go ahead and explore these other informative guides on the safety rules and aesthetic improvements of the openings in your basement:

How To Make A Basement Window Look Bigger?

Does A Basement Door Have To Be Fire-Rated?

One comment

  1. Thank you for all the Bilco information. Very very helpful. I have cleaned and removed the rust from my basement cellar doors and they are ready for the primer & paint. I have to install the Bilco basement door weather-stripping kit on all the doors. QUESTION: WHICH DO I DO FIRST? The Primer & Paint, or the basement door weather-stripping?

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