Your front door. Not just a style piece, your front door is the guardian of your home. You rely on it to be safe and sturdy, keeping out what you don’t want while letting in what you do. Your front door needs to be the best that it can be, and if your current door isn’t up to snuff, you might want to consider replacing it.
Additionally, there are a multitude of situations that could arise and leave your front door compromised. A natural disaster such as an earthquake or flood could leave you with the need to replace it. A robber or vandal could try to enter and leave it damaged. A car could crash into the door.
In either situation, you might want to consider building your own front door. Building a door for your home doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little know-how and some effort, you can easily replace a broken or hollow door in your home with one that you built all on your own. Not only will it look nice, but most importantly, you will have constructed a door that you can trust to be safe and secure.
This is a simple way to enhance the look of your home while using the very tools you own in your home workshop. So, let’s get started constructing your very own DIY door for any room in your home. Follow this step-by-step guide for complete instructions on how to build your door from start to finish.
Step 1: Gather All Your Tools and Supplies
The first step in your DIY door project is making sure you have all the supplies that are necessary to build your door from scratch. You may need to make a stop at the lumber store for a few solid pieces of wood, but other than that most of these tools and supplies should already be a part of your woodshop.
Gather up all of the following tools and supplies to ensure you can complete your DIY door project without delay or confusion while you work. Having the tools, you need on hand will make it easy to have what you need at a moment’s notice and allow you to build your door with confidence and ease. Here’s a list of everything you need to construct your DIY door:
- Table saw or Bandsaw
- Safety glasses
- Glue (waterproof preferred)
- Silicone caulk (waterproof preferred)
- Caulk gun
- Wood varnish
- 18 ft. long hardwood (oak, cherry or walnut) at least 1.5 inches thick
- 30 ft. long hardwood that is 3/4 inches thick
- Multiple grit sandpaper
- Steel wool
- Paintbrush or clean cotton cloth
- Wood molding pieces
- Optional: router saw for fine details
One of the best ways you can rest assured that the door you are building is safe and secure is by using high quality, hardwood for your door construction. Oak is the most common hardwood used in the northern hemisphere, but cherry and walnut are also hardwoods and are a little more elegant ( and expensive).
Step 2: Cutting the Door Frame
Now that you have gathered everything you need to start building your DIY door, you are ready to start the basic cuts needed to make the stile pieces that will come together to form the door frame.
Start, by cutting the two 84-inch stile pieces that will serve as the outer frame that will run from the top of the door to the bottom. Use your table saw or band saw to make these cuts and make sure to wear your safety glasses for protection.
In addition to the side stiles of your door frame, you will need a bottom rail that is 8 inches wide and a top rail that measures 3.5 inches wide. These rails will serve as the top and bottom frame of the door you are building.
After you cut each piece using your table saw, be sure to begin lining the stile and rail wood pieces up to ensure a good fit. They should fit together neatly and create a square that is the size of a standard door opening. It should have dimensions of approximately 36 x 80 inches. This will ensure it will fit your door jamb and function as it should to secure your home.
Step 3. Constructing the Mullions and Stiles
Next, you will want to progress to cutting the inner rails. These wood pieces need to measure 2.5 inches wide. You can easily cut two rails the exact dimensions required using your table saw for accuracy.
You will also need two vertical mullions (vertical element that forms a division between units of a window, door, or screen) that also measure 2.5 inches in width. Your table saw can cut the mullions with ease. Wear your safety glasses at all times when using your table saw and incorporate a table saw fence if you have one to assist with a more accurate cutting of the wood pieces.
Step 4. Putting Your Door Together
Now that you have all the wood pieces you need to construct your door; it is time to glue the joints for added strength. Use your waterproof glue to create the joinery in the corners of the frame.
You will want to use a flat surface to keep your door steady as you work. Start by assembling all the mullions and stiles required to fit the door together. Assemble these pieces together one-by-one ensuring a solid fit all the way around your door.
You will want to apply your waterproof glue to each joint, making sure to use a generous amount for solid adhesion. Use clamps to secure the joints until the glue has dried thoroughly. Tighten the clamps and let dry.
Step 5. Cutting The Door Panels
Once the glue is dry on your door frame, you are ready to move to the construction of the panels that will give your DIY door a decorative touch. You have a couple of options when it comes to adding panels to your DIY door. You may choose to add wood panels to the surface of the door or fit glass pieces between the rails and stiles of the outer frame.
If you choose glass, you may want to opt for safety glass as an added precaution. For this door project, we have opted for wood panels.
To get started on the panels, you will need to remove all the clamps that were affixed to the joints of the door frame. The raised panels that you will be constructing here will fit between the stiles and the rails of the door frame that you have constructed and glued together.
You can cut your panels in two ways. You have the option of using thicker wood for single-raised panels or pairs of panels made from thinner wood.
Cut the panels to fit in the desired space you have allotted in between the stiles and rails, and that appeals to you. You can cut these panels with your table saw, using your table saw fence as a guide.
You can also add more intricate details using a router saw. A router saw will allow you to round or bevel the edge of your door panels for a more detailed appearance to your DIY door. Get creative and use your router to add a personal touch to your panels.
Step 6. Attaching The Door Panels
Once you have cut the panels to fit your door frame, you will need to attach these panels to your door frame. Molding can help give you a more finished look around the panels and help hold the panels in place. Use nails and glues to secure the panels to the door and the wood molding.
For added protection and to act as a layer of insulation, you will want to run silicone caulking along the inside of the wood molding. This will prevent drafts into your home from the outdoors. This will also work to hold your glass panels in place should you opt to go with them instead.
Step 7. Waterproofing the Door’s Surface
You now need to protect your door from the elements that it will encounter on a daily basis. This means that you will need to add a layer of protection to its exterior surface. Adding varnish will prevent it from warping against the changes in temperature that it will experience over the course of its use.
You will begin this process by sanding your door’s surface. Use 100-grit sandpaper to evenly sand the door. Work your way down to 220-grit sandpaper for a fine and smooth finish to your door’s wood surface. Take your time as your sand as you want to make sure to hit all areas evenly for smooth feel to the wood.
Once you have evenly sanded your door, you need to apply varnish. It is best if you use a ratio of wood finishing varnish and mineral spirits that is roughly 50:50. Use a paintbrush or a clean cotton cloth to evenly apply the varnish to your door. You do have the option to choose a colored varnish that can add an attractive touch to your door and help it blend with your home’s exterior.
When you have applied one coat of varnish thoroughly, be sure to let it dry. You will need to apply two more additional coats to the surface over the first layer for maximum protection on your door. Once these varnish coats have dried, use a fine-grade of steel wool to finish the look and surface.
If you are opting to paint your door after it is completed, you can use a clear varnish and add a high-quality paint over it. The varnish will add a layer of protection to your door, and the steel wool finish will allow the paint to adhere, giving you an appealing DIY door that is meant to last.
You have now completed your DIY door project and are ready to start using your newly constructed door in your home. All that is left is to hang these doors in your home and begin using them as you see fit.
Not only are these DIY doors easy to construct but they will look beautiful in your home. Most importantly, you have built a solid front door that you can count on to be safe and secure. Your new front door will stand up to the elements and protect you and your family.