Update A Flat Door For $15 Using Trim & Paint
One thing our house has no shortage of is ugly pine doors and trim. As soon as we moved in, it became my mission to cover up every bit of that dated pine. And I’m making progress, slowly but surely!
I’ve been painting all of the trim white as I’ve worked my way from painting one room to the next. But one project that’s been on my wish list for the last couple years has been to tackle the pine doors, and I finally gave it a shot during our bathroom makeover. If you search “how to update a flat door” online, you’ll find a wide variety of tutorials for different looks. I decided to create picture frame molding on mine.
I knew this project would make a big difference in the look of our house, but I have to admit that I was nervous about the paint color! I second-guessed myself so many times before I finally mustered up the courage to paint my doors black. Trimming the doors with panel molding and giving them a sophisticated coat of matte black paint instantly upgraded the look of our home. I cannot believe I waited so long to do this! I will definitely be upgrading the rest of our interior doors to match.
I know I’m not the only one with flat pine doors that could use a makeover, so I’m sharing exactly how I tackled this project so you can do it, too! I don’t have a lot of experience with power tools nor do I even own many tools, so I was happy that this is a project that can be accomplished with minimal tools and supplies. And it’s very budget-friendly – I’m estimating I spent a max of $15 per door for the trim and paint. Let me show you how I did it!
I redid the main door and closet door in our bathroom. You can see the original flat pine door in these photos. They were sooo boring and really dated the look of our house.
Another update I was excited for was adding new hardware to the doors, especially a locking door knob on the main one! Our old door didn’t lock – you can see there was a little latch, but it didn’t actually line up correctly so it was useless. Since guests use this bathroom as well, I knew a locking door would be a pretty basic but nice upgrade. After all, it’s always a little nerve-wracking to be a guest in a non-locking bathroom!
Thank you to Ryobi, D. Lawless Hardware and HomeRight for providing product to complete this DIY door makeover! This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, see my disclosures.
DIY Door Tutorial: How To Update A Flat Door
Trim Moulding (I used this Colonial style trim) – amount will depend on door size/quantity, I used about 6 8-foot pieces for my two doors
Painter’s Tape or Masking Tape
Brad Nailer (or hammer and brad nails)
Paint & Painting Supplies (My doors are Tomcat by Valspar)
New Door Knob
Step 1 | Remove The Door From Its Hinges
Use a drill to take the door off its hinges and lay it on a flat work surfact. Be sure to remove all of the hardware off of the door, including the hinges and knob.
Step 2 | Remove Existing Finish
Next up is prepping your door for the trim and paint. I used a sander to remove the shiny finish from the door. This step isn’t difficult, but it did take a while since my sander isn’t very high powered. You could also use paint stripped to strip the paint or stain.
Step 3 | Measure
After reading through some other tutorials online about how to update a flat door, I decided to place the trim 4 inches from each edge of the door. I also left 4 inches in between the two square frames of trim, aligning them with the door knob. Here’s a diagram to help you visualize it. The door on our bathroom closet is narrower than a standard door, but I still followed the same plan of 4 inches around the edges. That meant the pieces of trim on the closet door were shorter than the pieces on the main entry door.
Use a tape measure and square to draw the outlines of where the trim will be placed in pencil.
Step 5 | Cut The Trim
I don’t have a miter saw, so I used a cheap miter box from the hardware store to cut the trim. An electric saw would certainly be faster, but these small pieces of trim are easy enough to cut by hand. Since you’re making a square all of your edges will be cut at 45° angles.
I measured each piece of trim, making a pencil mark where the longest edge of the trim should be. Then I set the trim in my miter box and cut away. I messed up a few pieces by cutting the angle the wrong direction before I realized that the thicker edge of the trim should always be the longest edge since it goes on the outside of the frames.
Step 6 | Attach The Trim
Once you are done cutting the trim, line each piece up with the corresponding edge on the pencil markings you made earlier. Use a square to ensure you make perfectly square corners and hold each piece of trim in place with a few pieces of painter’s tape.
If your cuts are a bit off, you may need to sand down the ends a bit so they fit snug. If your trim was cut a bit too short, there may be a slight gap at the corners. That’s not a big deal as long as the gap is small enough to be filled in with caulk.
Now you simply nail each piece of trim to the door. I loved the chance to bust out my new Ryobi AirStrike for this project! I’ve used this brad nailer for all sorts of projects since, so I highly recommend it. But if you don’t have a nailer, a simple hammer and brads will do the trick. I placed 3-5 brads in each piece of trim to secure everything in place.
Step 7 | Caulk
So sorry I forgot to take a picture of this step! Use a paintable caulk to seal all of the edges of trim. This takes a bit of time but results in a finished piece that looks very professional. In addition to lining the inside and outside edges of my trim frames, I also added caulk at all of the corners to create smooth joints where the trim meets. I love using the Caulkbecause I find them way easier to control than a caulk gun.
Step 8 | Paint & Seal
Now for the fun part – painting! I used my HomeRight FinishMax paint sprayer to add a few coats of matte black paint (Tomcat by Valspar) to the door. The paint sprayer gives a nice, even finish without brush marks but you can also paint your door with a standard paint roller and brush.
After your paint is dry, you may want to seal the door with something to protect it. If I would have used a semi-gloss paint, I wouldn’t have worried about sealing it since the semi-gloss finish is pretty durable and easy to wipe clean. But since I used matte paint, I knew I needed a clear coat of sealer on top to protect it and prevent dusty fingerprints from plaguing that black paint. I used polycrylic for this.
Step 9 | Add Hardware & Hang
The final step is to put the door back in its place! Instead of replacing the hinges on my door, I gave them a light coat of metallic nickel spray paint to freshen them up. I replaced my tarnished door knobs with these gorgeous knobs from D. Lawless Hardware, and what an improvement! The door knob holes in our door were slightly too small for our new knobs, so we used a large drill bit to enlarge the hole just a bit. I’ve never replaced door hardware before, but it was simple to do!
Take a look at the before and after:
And that’s how to update a flat door without spending a ton of money! The picture below shows the finished closet door next to the original main door. Isn’t the difference impressive! I love how fancy they look, and that black paint added so much class to our bathroom. I can hardly wait to find a weekend to update the rest of the interior doors in our house!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Have you ever tried to update a flat door? How did you do it?
Bathroom Makeover Projects
Check out the posts below for the full tour of my bathroom makeover and all the DIY projects I tackled in it.
Have a lovely day,
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, see my disclosures.
Organize Your Week Course
Take this free five-day course and learn how to streamline your weekly routine. You will be feeling more productive and put together in no time!