How to Restore an Old Door with Moldings

Modern doors come with panels that add style and elegance. But if you live in an older home, you’re probably stuck with slabs of plywood posing as your old doors. Replacing these cheap-looking imposters can be costly and complicated.

The idea is to create panels that you will glue to your old door. You can go with six panels, as in modern doors, but this will be costly and make little difference in the end. In fact, just creating two panels is all it takes to make your door look modern and beautiful.

Creating the Panels

How big you want your panels to be is up to you. Just draw two identical squares on your old door, one on top of each other, to represent where you would like the panels to be. It’s good to start with the panel that will run alongside the doorknob, as this will remind you to leave enough space for that hardware.

Next, measure one of the squares you drew (no need to measure both since they are identical). Make sure to measure both the length and width. Write down the measurements, then add 3 inches to each. The additional 3 inches are crucial, as they will be used to shape the corners of your panel. If you’re worried about making a mistake, give yourself a few extra inches to be on the safe side.

Your panel will be made of 1.5-inch molding. When you go to choose your molding at your local home improvement store (such as Home Depot or any lumber store in your area) remember that each door requires a total of four squares, two for the front and two for the back, so the cost can add up. Therefore, try to find the cheapest molding you can. (Don’t worry about the color, as you will be painting the molding and door at the end of the project.)

Each panel will be made of four strips that will join at the corners to form a square, like an empty picture frame. If you have a saw at home that can cut at an angle, then simply cut your molding to your measurements at 45-degree angles. Remember to switch between right and left as you go. If you don’t have access to such a saw, have a store employee cut the molding for you. Many stores offer such a service for free. In addition, many stores provide a table with a handsaw and a frame for sawing at an angle. The blade of the saw moves back and forth in the frame, keeping you at a 45-degree angle. This way you’ll be able to saw the molding yourself.

How to Install Door Molding

Once your molding is cut, take the four pieces that make up each panel and glue them at the corners to form an empty picture frame. Each door will need four such square panels.

Once the panels are dry, take your old door off its hinges and lay it on the floor over a plastic sheet or some other protective covering. With a glue gun spread glue on the back of the first panel and attach it to the door where you drew a square, then do the same with the second panel, gluing it under the first. Wait until both are firmly affixed before turning the door over and repeating the process on the back.

After the panels are firmly affixed on both sides of the door, move your door to a well ventilated space and paint it together with the panels, so they blend into each other.

Once the door is dry, simply hang it back on its old hardware and enjoy the new, stylish look. And if you’re short on money, try refurbishing only the side of the door that faces outward. You can always complete the other side later.

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