New Trim for the Front Door

It has annoyed me from day one that our front door trim was kind of boring.  I knew I wanted to do some wainscoting in the entryway so it seemed like the right time to attack the door.


Our entryway has a lot of interesting things going on – on the left here is a huge cased opening for our dining room and on the right, french doors for the office (playroom) with a pretty transom over it.  The front door was lacking any kind of wow factor and was easily the 3rd less interesting thing architecturally in the room.  To make matters worse, our front door was installed slightly off center.  If you look at this picture you can see the trim on the right meets the corner and blends into it and the trim on the left has an inch gap to the corner.  It wasn’t obvious to most people but it annoyed me.  I saw a few posts on pinterest about installing craftsman window trim and trim for interior doors and it seemed super easy because of the fact that you could do it all with simple 1-by pieces without any fancy molding.  This was a super easy project and we knocked it out in about 3 hours while watching the kiddos.

We used a brad nailer for the shiplap project and we could’ve borrowed an air compressor and a larger nail gun for this project but we decided to go ahead and buy it because we figured we will get some use out of it for the wainscoting project ahead and any other trim projects we’ll do in the future.  We went with primed mdf because it seemed like it would be the easiest to work with.

Materials needed:

  • stud finder
  • saw (we used a circular saw which isn’t the most accurate)
  • air compressor + nail gun (here’s the one we bought)
  • 2″ nails
  • 1×3 or 1×4 boards for vertical trim (we used a 1×3 on the right, 1×4 on the left to compensate for the offset)
  • 2 1×2 boards
  • 1×3 board (top cap)
  • 1×6 board
  • Finishing materials: spackle, caulk, sandpaper

Note: 1×2 boards are actually .75″x1.5″; 1×3 boards are actually .75″x2.5″ and so on

Step one was removing all the old trim.  The quarter round is the only thing that needed to be salvaged, the rest we just pryed out and didn’t worry too much about being careful.  I did this in about 15 minutes max.  Some of the drywall got a little damaged in the process but we weren’t worried since our new trim would cover that up.  Then Eric got his vise-grips and pulled out any of the nails that were stuck since we’d need a nice smooth surface to line up our new trim.

Now that our old trim was gone, we measured for our vertical boards, cut them and installed them by nailing them in. We used a non-primed board for our 1×4 because it was slightly more narrow than the mdf version and fit the space better.

We then used a stud finder and marked all of our studs above the door.  We measured across the top of the door and then installed the 1×2 (flipped down), 1×6 on top of that followed by 1×2, then 1×3 both flipped down.

I used spackle to fill the nail holds and caulked every line.  Caulk makes such a difference!  Because we used real wood for the left board I applied some spackle to areas where the knots were and then sanded them down to make the board as smooth as I could.  I did go in a second time a few days later and recaulked any areas that needed some extra attention.  The whole thing will get painted when I paint the wainscoting.


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