As I promised, today's tutorial is how to update 1970's boring bi-fold doors for only $20.00. The process is actually really simple and definitely adds some visual interest to a blah door. (You could easily use this technique for old hollow core interior slab doors as well!)
$20.00 Door RehabSupplies
Lattice Strips (Bundle of 50 strips for $14.97)
Liquid Nails (I used the Heavy Duty type)
Caulk (Latex caulk that is paintable and cleans up with water)
Clamps and/or Weights
Miter Saw or Hand Saw
Paint (My paint is a custom mixed Olympic One Paint and Primer in One)
Paint Roller & Brush
Optional: New Knobs and Primer
1. Prepare Wood
First, you will need cut the wood strips to the correct length using either a miter saw or a hand saw. I chose to do a small square on the top of each door. I thought about doing squares down the entire length, but after looking at our new interior doors (click here for the post about that saga) and the new board and batten (click here for that post), I decided to go with a craftsman one square on top style.
Since the wood is cheap, you may need to do a careful check of the wood before you pick it. Look for any warping, splits and any other cosmetic issues. Some of that can be fixed when you adhere the wood to the door, but not everything. Since there are so many strips in a bundle, you should be able to find some good straight boards in the group.
Once the pieces are cut, you will need to sand the wood smooth including the edges.
2. Prepare Surface
I removed my door and placed it on sawhorses, so it would be easier to work on. To remove a bi-fold door, you need to close the door and lift up. The top pin should compress in, and you should be able to lift the door off the bottom bracket and pull out. If your door is being stubborn (like mine was) you can also screw the bracket off the top track and slide the door inwards to remove. Remove the knobs.
Since there is more than likely some sort of finish on the top of the door, you will need to roughen up the surface. A smooth finish will keep your lattice strips and paint from adhering. You need to rough up the surface with a sanding block. You don't need to get crazy about it, a fine grit sandpaper will work.
3. Attach Wood Trim
Since the door is hollow, it won't do any good to use screws or nails. You will need to use Liquid Nails or a similar adhesive.
Once you lightly sand, you need to fasten the wood to the door. Apply Liquid Nails on the back of the wood strips in a wave pattern. Put the wood on the door and clamp it down. Use a wet rag to wipe away any adhesive that spills out from the trim. Let the door dry. I let my door dry overnight.If I couldn't reach a section with a clamp (i.e. in the strips on the inside of the door), I used a 10 pound weight to keep the trim from moving.
4. Wood Fill
Using wood fill, fill in anywhere the trim meets other trim. This is especially important if you have to join two pieces. The goal is to make the long piece appear as one piece, not two. After you let the wood fill dry for the time specified on the package, take either your sanding block or sander to the wood to level it out. I found that a block worked fine on everything except the long pieces joined together. To make those appear as one piece, I had to use a sander to take more surface area off.
5. Caulk the Gaps
You will need to caulk the gaps anywhere the trim meets the door. Caulk is one of those steps that many people overlook when doing trim. It does amazing things when it comes to making a professional finish.
Trim with caulk
You will want to caulk prior to painting because paint will catch less dust than the caulk by itself (not to mention, it will clean up much easier). Caulking used to intimidate me, mostly because I did such a terrible job on our tile back splash. However, once I threw out those caulking tools and just used a damp finger, the process was much easier. Once you have everything caulked, let the caulk dry according to the directions on the tube.
6. Paint the Door
If you would like, this is the time to apply a coat of primer to the door. I didn't have primer on hand, so I just went straight to my paint and primer in one. Primer would help keep the paint from peeling; however, I haven't seen any issues with the paint coming off my doors thus far.
Using a brush in the crevices and a foam roller meant for doors on the larger portions, I painted the front and sides of the door. I decided not to paint the back since no one will see that portion of the door. If you want a more professional finish (or are using this tutorial on an interior door), you may want to start with the back and then paint the front last. My door took three coats to completely cover.
After the first coat of paint, it's clear it's going to need some additional coats.
Once I was done with the front and edges, I propped my door up so I could paint the middle section where the hinges are located.
The door is propped up so the hinge side can be seen.
7. Rehang Door
After everything has completely dried, it's time to rehang your door. I always expect to do some touch ups after re installing the doors, so keep your gallon of paint handy. Once the door was rehung, I added new knobs to the existing holes.