How to Build a Stylish Interior Door DIY: Cheap & Easy

July 13, 2023
nicole

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Learn how to build a stylish interior door DIY, the cheap and easy way. I envy you if you have boring doors throughout your home. While people spend big money on a paneled door, I personally prefer flat panel doors. Why? Because you can easily do whatever you want to them. You get to decide the pattern you want to add to them. And there are so many designs to add to plain doors.

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When giving my daughter’s room a fresh makeover a few years ago, I changed out her 6 panel doors. And replaced them with hollow core doors.

At the time, she wanted me to just paint them black with chalkboard paint. Through the years, she and her friends had so much fun writing all over these doors. So many great memories and inside jokes on these doors.

We were sure to take lots of pictures before covering up all of this memorabilia. I have to admit, it was a little bittersweet changing up these closet doors, knowing that chapter of her childhood life had come to an end.

2 chalkboard painted doors with writing on them

But what I had in store for these DIY interior doors, was sure to make a huge difference in the overall new look of her room.

How to Build a Stylish Interior Door DIY

​As you can see I did this easy DIY door makeover on not just one door, but two doors. However, for simplicity sake, I’m going to focus on just one of the doors when breaking down the instructions. I’m sure it goes without saying, you’ll just duplicate these instructions for any door you decide to do this easy interior door makeover on.

Now, let’s change up those boring doors and make them amazing!!

Materials Needed

  • Existing door (of course 🙂 )
  • 8×4 MDF (1/4″ thick) ONLY IF you don’t have a flat door
  • 1x4x8 pine boards (Number of boards needed is dependent on the dimensions of your door)
  • 1x5x8 pine boards (Once again, number needed depends on dimensions of your door)
  • 3/4″ nail gun nails
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper (220-grit)
  • Paint. I used leftover paint to save some money. Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black in Matte–my go-to black 🙂
  • Paint brush (My favorite paintbrush)
  • Door hardware (Modern door handle choice)
  • Ball catch

Tools Needed for Interior Door DIY

Amazon Affiliate Links Included

Step One: Prep the door

First thing first, we need to prepare the door before we can start to add all of the trim work onto it.

  • You can do this one of two ways–Either take the door down (off its hinges) or leave the door up. (I chose to keep my door attached)
  • Remove the door handle. This will be replaced with a new handle and a ball catch.
  • Paint the door black. Front, back and sides of the door. (No need to paint the top or bottom of the door) I used painter’s tape to protect my hinges and floor.

Note: If you don’t have flat doors, you’ll need to add a 1/4″ thick sheet of MDF to your door front. Cut it to fit, using your table saw or circular saw. If you don’t have access to one of these saws, find a hardware store. Most of them will make your cuts for you.

Attach the MDF sheet to the door, using your nail gun. And then paint the entire door black (or whatever your base color is).

If the sides of your MDF board are rough, use a 220-grit sandpaper to smooth them down.

Step Two: Add the trim

This is the part where it starts to get good!

Cut to fit, the side trim boards. Measure the length of your door and cut two 1×4’s at that length, using your miter saw.

Attach these two 1×4’s, flush with the edge of the door. Use a level to ensure the board is straight. Attach using your nail gun…

2 black doors with wood trim

​Cut the bottom and top trim pieces to fit between the side trim pieces. You’ll use 1×5’s for these trim pieces…

2 doors with wooden trim

​Now that you have a frame around your door, you’re ready to move onto the next step.

Step Three: Add the door design

This is where you can be creative. How many panels do you want your door to have? I went with four panels. But really, there’s no rule that says you can’t add more or less.

Here’s how I added my 4 panels:

  • Cut three 1×5 boards to fit between the side trim pieces.
  • Find the center point between the top and bottom trim pieces. Mark this center on both side trim pieces.
  • Find the center of your 1×5 boards. Mark the center on both ends of all three boards.
  • Line up the center marks on the side trim boards with one of your cut-to-fit 1×5’s.
  • Attach this 1×5, using your nail gun. Attach it in the center first and then adjust to make it straight, using a level.

At this point, you should have one center board, between the top and bottom trim pieces. It should look like this…

Interior door DIY center of door diagram Now, you’re ready to add your last two boards. Let’s add the bottom board first…

  • For this step, you’ll need to find the center between the bottom trim piece and the center 1×5 board.
  • Once again, mark the center on both side trim pieces.
  • Line up the center marks on the side trim pieces with one of your cut-to-fit 1×5’s. Attach this 1×5, using your nail gun.
  • Attach it in the center first and then adjust to make it straight, using a level.

Your door should now look like this…

Interior door DIY center of bottom of door diagram Repeat the above steps to attach your last board. Which, of course, will be centered with the top trim piece and the center 1×5.

Once finished with this whole process, your doors should look like this…

Two 4-panel doors with wooden trim for interior door diy

Want to add craftsman trim around your doors? Here’s the link! So easy to do!!

Step Four: Finish work

Chances are good your door trim didn’t line up perfectly in all the spots. No worries! This is where wood filler comes into play. Use your wood filler to fill in all of the nail holes and gaps.

​Smooth these spots down with a 220-grit sandpaper.

And your custom door is now ready for a fresh coat of paint. I went with a moody, dark color for my own doors. Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black in a Matte finish.

Add a few coats of poly to protect your painted finish from scratches. Sorry for the blurriness of this picture. Ugh! It was the only one I could find before adding the door hardware…

A 4 panel door painted black

​Once your door is all painted and dry, you’re ready to add the hardware. I chose to keep the door knobs we had on the old door. I spray painted them with Rustoleum Metallic Gilded Brass. And now they’re as good as new!

2 vintage door handles spray painted gold

​Here’s a peak at what they looked like before. I found these gems at a local antique store…

2 vintage door knobs for interior door diy project

As you can see, they are just handles and not actual door knobs. This works perfect for my daughter’s closet doors. Because the two doors go together, they form a tight seal. This makes it so that I didn’t need to add a ball catch.

However, if you’re working with a pantry door or any other interior door, you’ll want to add a ball catch so that the door will latch closed and open easily. Follow the instructions on the packaging; they’re very easy to install.

I went back and forth on whether to paint the door frame trim black or keep it white. In the end, I decided to keep it white. I like how it gives the doors visual weight.

​And with her Noble Blush, by Valspar, painted walls, these doors really pop!

two 4-panel doors with golden handles

These doors make such a statement! And look so much better than the original doors. The best part, I did this all for a fraction of the cost of most interior doors. It’s amazing the money you can save by conquering your own DIY projects. This interior door DIY would look great on any boring or ugly doors that need an update. So easy to do!!

Interior Door DIY FAQ’s

I noticed you attached all the trim with just nails. Will this provide a strong enough hold?

I haven’t had any issues with any of the trim pieces coming loose. However, if you’re wanting to add an extra layer of strength, wood glue will definitely give you that peace of mind you’re looking for.

What does the side of the door look like?

Attaching the trim added a 3/4″ thickness to the door. This doesn’t bother me. It’s just part of the design of the door.

​Could I do this style door to my exterior doors?

I think that would really depend on the kind of exterior door you have and how much that door is exposed to the outdoor elements. If you have a wooden front door, instead of a metal one, you could possibly make this work.

Especially if your exterior door is tucked back in an alcove or set back a little ways under a covered porch. You would want to make sure to use wood for the entire project (no MDF). And a good coverage of polyurethane will help protect your door from any harsh weather.

2 black doors with 4 panels and gold door knobs for interior door diy

​What skill level is this project?

The skill level is definitely beginner. However, it does require a few power tools, so you’ll want to make sure you have these on hand. If not, maybe you can borrow them from a friend or a neighbor?

What are some ideas for door handles?

Any kind of handle that’s on barn doors would be perfect. Here’s my favorite barn door handle. 

​Check out your local antique store for hardware. You never know what treasures you may find there.

If you’re looking for a more modern style, this one is a great option.

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

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