The door project

By | December 6, 2012

When we moved into our house, I hated every single door, for various reasons. Some were too small, some were too boring, some were painted an ugly color (hello, front door!), and others were just really damaged.

Slowly, we’ve been making changes to get rid of/update all these darn doors, and right before our housewarming project, we took on the biggest project of them all, replacing all 10, yes 10, interior doors on our main level.

Despite the cost, which was certainly felt in our budget, we wanted to replace them because so many of them had holes in them. They were builder-basic hollow-core doors and the door stops had punched big nasty holes in the bottoms of several of them.

I don’t have any good photos of the doors still attached to the walls, probably because I was too traumatized by them, so here they all are, just chilling in our garage, waiting for us to get up the gumption to post them on craig’s list or something. Anyone want any old doors? We have plenty to spare! (Just kidding, unless you really want them, of course!)

They aren’t all damaged, but the ones that are look something like this.

Plus, the previous owners had a cat and there were also some scratches. These scratches are actually on one of the doors we haven’t replaced yet, the one going into the garage. It’s a nicer, thicker door, but it’s still going to have to go. Ick.

So, we went door shopping.

After painting ALL THAT TRIM, I was bound and determined we were going to buy pre-painted doors instead of the kind I would need to paint, despite the fact that I knew it would cost more. Unfortunately, the one pre-painted doors we could find didn’t at all match the color of out trim, which we had already painted.

(Perhaps the better plan would have been to buy the white doors and then choose a paint color to match? But alas, that’s not what we did.)

So, I ended up painting both sides of all 10 doors, with two coats of white paint. We did  buy the pre-primed ones, so that did save some time.

Still, I wasn’t very happy about the whole project.

I used the same method I used to paint the front door. For a post on that technique, read this one. Luckily, my mom and sister came up and helped for a day, but I still ended up doing the bulk of the painting by myself while Hubs was at work.

(Oh the joys of working from home!)


Then began the problem of what to do with the hinges and door knobs. I had no idea those would cost so much to replace! Yikes! It was almost as much as the doors–and not in the budget.

Still, we had to do something. I mean, I wasn’t going to ruin our beautiful new painted doors with these old shiny brass hinges and knobs. Some were were pretty dingy and gross. In the end, we decided to spring for new knobs because ours weren’t in the best shape–some were even dented. (Who used these doors before us? Giants and monsters who didn’t know their own strength and went around denting door knobs and breaking doors?)

But that still left the hinges. Ick.

So we decided to try painting the hinges. Crazy, maybe, but we went ahead and bought some brushed aluminum Rustoleum spray paint and went to work in the garage.

We didn’t sand these because we didn’t think they would need it, the spray paint is pretty tough stuff, but it is important to clean them because dirt and other 3-D bumps will just be all that much more noticeable once you’ve painted over them.

(If you do find some bumps after you’ve started painting, just wait for it to dry, lightly sand or scrape it smooth and then paint again. It’s an easy fix, just more time-consuming that if you’d done it the first time, speaking from experience…

We used an old piece of sheet rock the previous owner left behind as a work surface to avoid getting any paint on Hubs nice new workbench he’d just finished building. And yes, we are keeping that piece of sheet rock forever because it was the PERFECT painting surface, smooth and heavy, so the stuff that’s being painting doesn’t stick to it  like it will if you use newspaper.

After a couple light coats, (thinner is better with spray paint to avoid drips!) we waited a day, then turned them over and painted the backs. Easy as pie.

We even spray-painted the screws to match! (I’m admitting that we were too cheap to buy new screws to the entire world. Please don’t judge us.)

The best tip for those is to remember that only the heads will show, so just push them into an empty cardboard box and spray the tops with a few light coats until they’re all covered.


It does take some time to let them dry completely because you don’t want them to be tacky when you’re trying to use them later. Just wait. It’s worth it.

Eventually, though, we did get them all painted, and then began the joys of hanging them. This was the worst part of the entire process!

Maybe because we bought some of the cheapest doors we could find, and maybe because our house isn’t totally square (none are!), but we had the worst time rehanging them. Poor Hubs had to keep adjusting and planing and scraping and re-routering out the inserts for the hinges. It was awful and so time consuming, all the week before our big party.

I wish I had some real tips on this, but the truth is that every house and every doorway in that house is different, so you’ll just have to make your doors fit. There’s no magic solution. Just take it a few doors at a time and avoid getting overwhelmed by the entire project. (Speaking from experience again there.)

In the end, though, they all look fabulous, and after some minor touch-ups with the paint and some scrubbing to get rid of Hubs’ fingerprints, they all turned out awesome.

You can’t even tell we shed our blood, sweat, and tears getting them all back up. (The blood was from Hubs, the tears were from me, in case you needed some clarification.)

(You probably didn’t need that explanation did you?)

So, tell me, what projects are you working on that caused tears? Blood? Sweat? I’d love to hear!

P.S. Our next door project is in the garage waiting to be tackled! Here’s a hint, it’s pretty and glass and has an invisible screen inside!


3 thoughts on “The door project

  1. Anna

    How are the painted hinges holding up? I only have have six “regular” doors (the rest are bi-fold or sliders), so I’m wondering if I should just suck it up and buy new hinges.

    1. Melissa Post author

      Our painted hinges on the doors still look good. We also painted the ones on the kitchen cabinets and those (which get more use) are showing some scuffs and chips. But, for a cheap, easy, fast, fix, I’d say painting is a good choice! (Sorry it took so long to find this comment and reply—it got stuck in spam–boo!)


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