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Old Doors Makeover:
How to Add Panels to Plain Doors
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Make old doors look like new by building wood panels for them.

Modern doors come with panels that add style and elegance. But if you live in an older home, you’re probably stuck with slabs of plywood posing as your doors.

Replacing these cheap-looking imposters can be costly and complicated. Not only must you measure the exact size of the opening, but also the precise location of the hinges, knob and lock. Get anyone of these wrong, and the custom door you order will not fit.

There is another way around the problem. Don’t throw your perfectly functional monstrosities away. Give them a face-lift instead.

The idea is to create panels that you will glue to your door. You can go with six panels, as in modern doors, but this will be costly and make little difference in the end. In fact, just creating two panels is all it takes to make your door look modern and beautiful.
Create panels for old doors
Step 1: Creating the Panels

How big you want your panels to be is up to you. Just draw two identical squares on your old door, one on top of each other, to represent where you would like the panels to be. It’s good to start with the panel that will run alongside the door knob, as this will remind you to leave enough space for that hardware.

Next, measure one of the squares you drew (no need to measure both since they are identical). Make sure to measure both the length and width. Write down the measurements, then add 3 inches to each. The additional 3 inches are crucial, as they will be used to shape the corners of your panel. If you’re worried about making a mistake, give yourself a few extra inches to be on the safe side.

Your panel will be made of 1.5 inch molding. When you go to choose your molding at your local home improvement store (such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, or any lumber store in your area) remember that each door requires a total of four squares, two for the front and two for the back, so the cost can add up. Therefore, try to find the cheapest molding you can. (Don’t worry about the color, as you will be painting the molding and door at the end of the project.)

Each panel will be made of four strips that will join at the corners to form a square, like an empty picture frame. If you have a saw at home that can cut at an angle, then simply cut your molding to your measurements at 45 degree angles.

Remember to switch between right and left as you go. If you don’t have access to such a saw, have a store employee cut the molding for you. Many stores offer such a service for free. In addition, many stores provide a table with a handsaw and a frame for sawing at an angle. The blade of the saw moves back and forth in the frame, keeping you at a 45 degree angle. This way you’ll be able to saw the molding yourself.
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 © Inventive Home Improvement, 2011