Updating our Flat (and Ugly) Builder Grade Doors

by - Thursday, March 17, 2022

One of the things that I've never really loved about our house is that most of the doors are boring, flat builder grade doors from 1980 when this house was built. 

There's nothing wrong with them. They are just ugly to look at, and we have two of them right in our main living space where our HVAC and biggest storage closets are. 

I looked into replacing the doors, but given the supply chain issues and the cost of wood these days, that quickly became a much too expensive solution for something that wasn't really broken. 

So instead, I decided to give them a simple makeover. 

Doors before and after

I used painters tape to help me visualize the pattern I was hoping to create with some trim.


Once I had that figured out, I took measurements of everything and headed to the hardware store to see what kind of trim I could find. I wanted something that had a little bit of visual interest, but wouldn't be too clunky or overly attention grabbing for the doors. 

When I found one I liked, I brought it home and measured and cut all the trim down with a miter saw to get those perfect corners. 

Installation ended up being trickier than I thought because the trim was so thin, even the super small nails I'd bought were causing the wood to split. 

So I experimented with taking a door off its hinges and using wood glue. That method worked OK, but I still didn't trust that the trim would hold up in the long run with just the glue. 


So I went off to another hardware store to see if I could find even smaller nails. Hardware store number two had a bigger selection and I picked the smallest ones I could find. Turns out, they did the job and didn't destroy the wood. 

That saved me from taking all the doors off their hinges to get this project done. 

Instead, we just used the nails to attach the trim. 


Then I used some wood filler to fill the holes, sanding it down for a smooth finish. 

After caulking all the seams, I hit the wood with a coat of primer. 

And then I followed it up with a coat of paint for both the trim and the door, and a second coat of paint for just the trim once everything tried. 


I started with all the doors on the first floor first, and when it worked out well there, I tackled the doors on our second floor too. 

This was a super easy and straight forward project, and it gives the doors just enough visual interest. 

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