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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

weekend update: modernizing interior doors with paint & moulding.

The summer before Rowan was born, J.J. and his dad spent a few weeks in the backyard staining and installing a bunch of secondhand fence pieces we'd bought from friends. It drove me bananas not to be able to help with this process, considering (a) I love doing home improvements, and (b) I'm the ultimate control freak, but I wasn't allowed anywhere near the fence stain in my delicate (lol) condition.

So I had to unleash my control-freakiness somewhere else, and our upstairs doors took the hit.




We have four doors upstairs: three bedrooms and one bathroom. They were all scratched, grimy, and stained from decades of use...and hollow, which means they don't do much for noise reduction. Wanting a more modern design and color, I shopped around to see if I could find new, solid-core interior doors. Well, I could - at around $100 a pop. Not only was the cost off-putting, but I was intimidated by the prospect of finding the perfect fit, especially in an older house.

It looked like solid-core doors were out of the question, but I wanted to at least brighten up the hallway and make our existing doors more attractive. I took matters into my own hands and gave the doors the same treatment that our kitchen cupboards and master closet doors got - the ├╝ber-simple paint-plus-moulding trick. I've done this enough times by now that it's a relatively quick and painless project!


:: Step 1: Remove door; remove hardware

I started out by removing the doors (I labeled them to make sure they were re-installed in the right spot) and bringing them to my makeshift workspace in the garage. (My third-trimestery-ness meant that J.J. had to help with the door transportation, even though they're not heavy at all.) I unscrewed the hinges, doorknobs, and door stops from each one. I planned on replacing the old brass hardware, so I tossed those, but I put the doorknobs and screws in plastic baggies to prevent anything from getting lost.


:: Step 2: Prep doors for paint

J.J. had to help with the first step of prepping for paint: using a liquid sander-deglosser. It's easy and quick - you just pour a little on the door and wipe it off with a paper towel, which removes all the grime and build-up - but I didn't feel comfortable exposing mah fetus to the fumes. Once the doors had fully dried (I think I waited a half hour), I primed each one with primer (I used Zinsser Bulls-Eye water-based primer in white) and a foam roller.



:: Step 3: Prepare moulding

I wanted to add a simple design to each door using half-round moulding. I purchased a bunch of eight-foot, pre-primed pieces, which I prepped while the primer was drying. Prep included measuring and cutting, a quick sanding with high-grit sandpaper (to smooth out the cut edges and also help the flat edge get a better grip when I glued it to the door), and a coat of the same white paint I was using for the doors (off-the-shelf Behr Premium Plus in white semi-gloss). 

As for measuring and cutting - I just eyeballed where I wanted the rectangular design to be, measured the lengths (measure twice three times, cut once less often), and used an ancient hand saw and miter box to make 45-degree cuts. I almost always mess up these cuts a few times, usually by cutting the same angle on opposite ends of the same length of moulding - so instead of looking like this: /__\ , it ends up looking like this: /__/ . (I'm so technical, I KNOW.) Still, it didn't take too long to have all the lengths I needed...which was a lot: two short and two long pieces per side, per door. That's thirty-two pieces altogether. My sawing arm was pretty sore.


:: Step 4: Apply first coat of paint to doors

Here's where you could theoretically start varying up some steps of my oh-so-technical process. I wavered on when to attach the moulding - before or after painting? I'd learned from doing the kitchen cabinet doors that painting around the moulding is way more time-consuming than just rolling over a plain door, but that I have to do at least one coat of paint after attaching the moulding to cover up wayward glue and caulked touch-ups (we'll get to that in a minute). So I split the difference and did one coat of paint before I added the moulding and one coat of paint after. Oh, and I went with semi-gloss paint, as I mentioned before, after Googling around to see what finish people usually use on interior doors.


:: Step 5: Attach the moulding

Before attaching anything, I used a pencil on each freshly-painted door to mark where the corners and edges of my moulding design would go. Then I got down to business securing each piece in its new home. Because half-round moulding tends to warp in places, I've found it best to attach it to doors using both wood glue and some tiny finishing nails (maybe two per short piece and three per long piece). I haven't had a piece pop off yet, so it must be an effective technique! Oh, and I always drive the finishing nails in using an inexpensive nail punch set (like this one) to avoid hammer dings on the soft moulding pieces.


:: Step 6: Touch up the moulding

I let the moulding pieces dry and cure overnight, although you definitely don't have to wait overnight. I just needed a break...and it was getting dark out. The next morning, I used some paintable caulk to fill in the tiny divots where the finishing nails went in, as well as any gaps in the moulding. It's typical to end up with gaps where the corners meet, and I always end up using some caulk to fill in gaps between the flat edge and the door (again, moulding doesn't tend to be perfectly straight or flat, so you have to compensate). Easy to do, and it makes the finished product look more professional.


:: Step 7: Final coat of paint

Once the caulk dried, I did one more coat of paint, taking care not to leave roller marks. I also had to use a brush in some places to smooth out paint around the moulding design.


:: Step 8: Attach new hardware; reattach doors

I picked out new hinges and door stops in brushed nickel to match our doorknobs. Surprisingly, the new hardware made a pretty huge impact on the doors. They just looked so much better than the brassy, greasy, paint-splattered, scuffed, and (in the case of the door stops) bent-beyond-recognition hardware pieces from before. 




Once the hinges and door stops were screwed in, J.J. helped me hang the doors back on their frames...and we were done!

(master bedroom on left - guest room in center - nursery on right)

(nursery door - then closet door, which had already been painted - then bathroom door)

It was great having doors that weren't so plain (or dirty), but the best part was how much the white paint brightened up the whole hallway - and each bedroom. Here's the master bedroom and nursery with the orange-y wood doors, and then with the white paint:







It only took a weekend to give these doors new life, not to mention brighten up our upstairs hallway and bedrooms! Someday I'll get my act together and tackle the interior doors in our kitchen - the bathroom, garage, and basement doors. I get Mr. Burns fingers just thinking about how awesome they would look with fresh white paint...yesssssss...

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