Making Your Doors Pretty With Molding (and a How-to)

Hi everyone, hope you had a great weekend! July around here is a crazy busy month, but actually the whole summer has been. :) But, I am so thrilled with how this latest project I finished up last week turned out. Like, it may be one of my favorite projects to date.

Remember when I had my Molding Link Party back in March?  Well there was one particular project that was linked up by Dianne from The Inspired Housewife and it has been in the back of my mind to do ever since.  Check out what she did to her doors here it’s gorgeous!

So here is our door before…

And after.

I just love it.  It added several inches of height to our plain builder door casing trim and added tons of character. High five for architectural detail!

Now let me tell you something. I was pretty darn proud of myself after this. Yes, yes I was. Why? Because I’ve never really cut crown molding and have kind of been scared to because everyone says it’s so hard yada yada.  But I’m here today to show you how you can do this too, and NO, it’s not that hard.  All it takes is a few moments of your brain working to think about a few things, that’s it. And once you do it and get it right, it’ll be like a piece of cake the next time you need to cut some crown.

5 very important things to know about crown molding:

  1. Always cut your crown upside down on your saw. Usually when you have crown molding up on the ceiling, the most decorative part is on the bottom part.  So, when you are ready to cut, face the decorative part up top (you’ll see a photo of this later on)
  2. Always (most of time) cut your crown standing up, at an angle against the fence of the saw (you’ll see a pic later).
  3. All of my cuts for this project were 45 degrees.
  4. Take your time and think before you cut.  Crown molding is expensive :)
  5. Get a compound miter saw if you can. I have a Ryobi and it was very affordable.

Now for the tutorial on making your doors charming and pretty!

I used a piece of MDF that was 4 inches wide I had on hand leftover from the paneled wall, cut it the length of the door and nailed it up.

Then I measured what length my crown needed to be and cut.

(You will set your saw at 45 degrees for both ends of the crown, just flip the direction of the 45 degree angle for each end. Make sense?)  Also notice how I’m standing up the crown against the fence of the saw and holding tightly before I cut.

Here’s the piece of crown after I finished cutting, and I got this right the very first try!  Yay for YouTube videos and a few calls to my Dad to make sure I was understanding what to do.

Next you need to figure out your side pieces.  These did take a little bit of practice to get it right so just be patient. And buy extra crown. :)

Your side pieces will have a 45 degree angles as well, and also one straight angle (the side that touches the wall). So just cut your side pieces the same way you cut your big piece. It will fit together like this.

Please note: When you cut your side or end piece, you will also cut the crown upside down, BUT, for this cut you can just lay it flat on the saw since you need a simple straight cut.  Like this:

See how little of a piece you need to cut, where that red laser line is?  Just measure to the back of the wall and to cover up your piece of wood above the door to get your measurement. It will be pretty small if you are going to do this project.

See the straight cut? That side will be up against the wall.

Goodness, I know this is a long post and tutorial, but I couldn’t think of any other way to tell you all. This is detailed stuff and I kind of had to wing it myself since I couldn’t find a thorough tutorial anywhere online, so I’m trying to save you the trouble. :)

Ok, so once you have the 3 pieces cut, you are ready to assemble.  The first thing I did was use some wood glue and attach the big piece to my piece of MDF, and then secured with a few finishing nails. Then I also used wood glue for my side pieces, but do not use your nail gun on the small side pieces because they are too fragile.  Don’t ask me how I know. :)

I used a small thin piece of flat decorate trim to cover the seam between the door casing and mdf.

Then just caulk everything, spackle the nail holes…

And you’re ready to paint!

So what do you think?  We love it so much!  I can’t wait to show you the new living room wall either. Oh my. :)

And a side by side of the before and after…

Love. :)

And also, you could do this project with just your miter box and saw. You will just need to find a way to clamp it into place and stand it up.  I tried it out but didn’t have the patience, so that’s why I was determined to make it work on the big saw. And it did!  :)

You can also choose any style of crown molding too.  Mine was about 4 inches wide and I chose a more decorative one, but any style is fine.  I paid around $15 for my piece of 8ft crown. Yikes.  But it was well worth it. :)

If you have any other questions leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you. And if I missed something I’ll be sure and update the post.

Happy crown molding cutting!

P.S.-my nails that you see in the pics is the same shellac manicure I posted about a few weeks ago. Crazy huh?? It’s been 3 weeks to the date and I still have it on, but it’s time for a new one. :)

I’ll be sharing this post at Sarah’s Before and After Party, Tip Junkie, Tatertots and Jello, Between Naps on the Porch and Beth’s Tutorials and Tips Party.



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  1. That looks fabulous! I love nice wide moldings. This is a great way to get that look.

  2. That looks so pretty…Saws make me a little nervous but I’m sure my husband could make the cuts! very nice!

  3. Looks great!!!!

  4. Oooooh you’re right that makes your doors look so pretty : ) Your nails look rockn to! Love that color lol

  5. thanks for the step by step! we’re getting ready to hang crown and i’ve heard it’s confusing. but you made it look easy! and the door looks great!

  6. I know I already told you on twitter, but I am SO gonna do this on all my doors. I already have leftover crown and mdf..oh, and I even have the decorative flat piece of molding too. (why yes, I am a decorative trim hoarder! lol) :)
    Can’t wait to dig out my miter saw and get started!

  7. It looks great! Good job! Putting up mouldings was the only time I ever regretted that I didn’t pay more attention in geometry class.

  8. Emily! You are ONE extremely talented woman! You need your own show on HGTV! I’m calling it forth! :)

    Can I just pay you to come do the crown molding at my house?? Just kidding…just kidding.

    Well, Joel and I are about to embark on our own savy designs! We are going to turn a few of our dark furniture pieces into rustic furniture via whitewashing, and sawing. Then, after we master that, we are attempting to do a headboard. I’ll let you know how it goes! And if you have any experience with distressing wood to make rustic feel, please direct me to your blog! :)

    B/C we are also going to do an upright piano, soon!

    Also, that is incredible that your manicure has lasted that long! I did notice your nails at that party we were at 3 weeks ago and admired them! I have to go get one now! :)

    Have a great day! And congrats on SUCH a fabulous blog! It really is the best one in the south!

    • Aww Lacey you’re too sweet, thank you so much!!…Wow, good luck with all of those projects. Furniture refinishing isn’t really my forte, as I just tend to spray paint everything and call it good. :) I hope to actually do a real piece soon, like with a paintbrush and all. Haha.

      I do want to make us a headboard too though! Do you read Ana-White? She has a great site that gives step by step tutorials and plans on how to make TONS of furniture and stuff. I want to build something one day.

      Also, are you on Pinterest? If not, join it-you’ll be hooked. You’ll find tons of furniture tuts on what y’all are trying to do, and even painted pianos to give you some ideas. You can find anything on Pinterest!

      Thanks again girl, talk to you soon!

  9. You go, girl!! What an impact this project makes. Truly drab to fab. :)

  10. It looks absolutely amazing, but I think my favorite part is that you did the whole thing with perfectly manicured nails. :) Nice work!

  11. Looks great Emily! Really finishes it off, and I love the height that it adds. Great job!!

  12. That looks fantastic! Great job.

  13. Oh! I am just dying! I adore this!! I SO want to do this! Amazing!! :)

  14. That is fantastic. I love how fabulous the door looks with the molding topper. Stunning. Your tutorial is also super. Thanks. Hugs, Marty

  15. Emily, it looks amazing. I love all things related to mill work. Can’t get enough. You are so talented. And your nails . . still look amazing! BTW, is your rug still shedding or has it stopped??

  16. Will you stop? lol. That is fantastic! My poor husband will say, “Decorchick again?”. I love it and your nails still looking good.

  17. Also, did I see a hint of some board and batten next to the door? Mmmm? Are you holding out on us?

  18. LOVE it! What a difference and such a simple project!

  19. It looks gorgeous!!! It takes it from a standard door to a custom door! :)

  20. It looks amazing!!! It’s so neat how such a “simple” fix can make such a big difference. Now, whenever you’re ready, feel free to come on over with some wood and your saw! I’ll even cook you lunch!! ;-)

  21. OOHHH, I want to do this on the outside of my entry door…

    I might try it over the large window in my formal dining room 1st :)

    Thanks for the great tutorial

  22. You make this look easy enough that I *think* I might be able to tackle it myself. This would look fabulous over the french doors going into our office!

  23. What a huge difference! It makes the plain jane door do fancy! Might have to use this idea myself ;)

  24. Wow, what a gorgeous addition. I am so impressed with the talent and ingenuity I find on the blogs. This project, in particular, is a lot of bang for the bucks. One question: Will you do all of your doors or, is that an entry? I enjoy your blog very much.

    • Thanks so much! And yes I do plan to do this to all of our doors. This first door I did is in the living room and goes to the master. I’m going to do the breakfast room next. :)

  25. Beautiful. Nice nails too. Love the color :D

  26. Emily's Dad says:

    You did a very good job! I think you have made the point that tapes and saws are not exclusively boy’s tools…..bravo Honey!

  27. It looks fantastic! I’d love to do this but I just convinced my husband to purchase all new door knobs and hinges, I don’t think he’ll go for this as well! :)

  28. I love it! I have always loved detailed moldings, but never thought about doing it myself. Great tutorial!

  29. Looks so great! And your nails look amazing :)

  30. Beautiful!! I need to do that to my doors too. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  31. It looks awesome. What a difference. I may have to try that.

  32. Emily, I love this! My parents’ house which was built in the 1940s has this detail around every door and I’ve always loved it. I may eventually end up adding this detail to ours as well!

  33. That is so fabulous I can’t even tell you!!!! The door looks so custom and expensive! So how many doors are you going to do?

  34. Wow Emily, I am so impressed girl! You did a fantastic job and what an awesome transformation. I’m inspired to try the saw myself.. I think!

  35. Emailing to my husband RIGHT NOW.

    Looks amazing! You are very talented.

  36. Hello Emily,
    You did a great job with the molding and I really like that you went with a rope detail in both the crown and trim piece. For the trim piece you used to cover the gap, you should probably continue the trim past the mdf backer board with a “return” like you did on the crown portion, so it slightly goes past the existing casing and 45’s back into the wall. Door headers typically (but not always) have a small ledger board first (that slightly overhangs the door casing front and sides), a flat board sitting on top of the small ledger(your mdf piece), the decorative crown, and then another wider ledger piece that sits on top of the crown with a slight reveal/overhang. My dad builds custom homes and his carpenter uses this style on all the doors and walk throughs and he was kind enough to show me how to DIY it for my own home. Also, the addition of a flat ledger board on top of the crown makes it easier to clean and won’t accumulate as much dust (or even spiders & webs!) sitting inside the empty v shaped space by the crown molding.

    It’s great to see more women using “scary” power tools like the compound miter saw.

  37. I printed her directions off a couple of months ago for this to do doors & windows…just saving up for my sliding compound mitre saw! You did a great job & I appreciate Lori’s info to close off the top of the crown since I hate dusting AND spiders!

  38. You never cease to amaze me.

  39. Thanks for sharing this! The door looks so great! I’ve really been wanting to try this out at my own house and wondered what the best way to do it was! It looks pretty straight forward!

  40. Oh it’s beautiful! What a difference a little moulding makes! Would love to have you link to my party this weekend too!

  41. This is a wonderful idea, and you did a great job.

  42. Lisa Marie says:

    Awesome job…& nice nails!

  43. That looks great, it give your door that certain something. Well done!

  44. I just saw this on Tip Junkie and popped over. I love how this looks! Such a simple way to make a door look more elegant. Pinning this to Pinterest. :) Thank you so much for sharing!

  45. LOVE IT! I found your blog through TT&J and I love all your projects. I’m your latest follower and would love for you to check out my blog and follow me, too!

  46. I love this! I think your house is almost the same floorplan as mine and I have gotten TONS of ideas of what to do in my house. And I only found your site yesterday =P I can’t wait to try this over my front door.

  47. This looks great but I second the idea that there should be a ledger board. It seems that it’s an after thought to the doorway rather than part of it. Here’s a link to a website where I “borrow” the designs and use in my home.. Click on photos on the left hand side and go to doorways and you’ll see what I mean.

    you can also see this same idea applied in the window casings they made.

  48. I love this – so was it $15 for the whole project!?! About how much would you say per door?

  49. Hi there – I love your blog! This is such a great idea. Since reading your post, I realized that my carpenter did a lot of that style on the top of my fireplace mantle and elsewhere in my home. Have to start doing that above my doors now! Designing never stops does it?

    Hope you can visit my site to see my work!

    Great projects you have…going to read more now!


  50. Hi, just seeing this door trim on Pinterest. Can you tell me where you bought your crown molding? Its pretty and I’m wondering if I can find it in my area.

  51. Hi, I love your great idea. I hope to do it on all my doors. It will take some time but thats okay. After looking at yours I also came up with an idea that is a little extra work but I think I’ll try.
    I’m going to see what it looks like when I take the top piece of original trim off the door. The one that runs across the top; then take a little off each side piece; a straight cut across the top of each. That way I can set my new crown right on top of those straight cuts. I hope I’m not gonna run into problems trying to get the old trim off, but I’m gonna try it anyway.
    Thanks so much for your tutorial and imaginative idea on this.

  52. We stumbled over here different website and thought I may as well check things out.

    I like what I see so now i am following you. Look
    forward to looking over your web page yet again.

  53. This looks so good! Thanks for the tutorial! :)

  54. Absolute perfection! And…I have that miter saw…time to put it to good use!

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  56. I have a 100 year old house with these moldings on every window. The original molding looks like it is a solid piece of wood, because it goes back to the wall. Did you leave a big triangle-shaped gap overhead between the 45-degree angle of the crown and mdf backer?

    The closest thing I can find to this type of solid crown molding is a “brick” PVC molding product meant for exterior window treatments. I may pay the extra money to just get this because right now, I’m making 3/4″ triangles to fill the gap and gluing them to the crown before installing. It’s a PIA. It looks very nice and once I paint it, you won’t be able to tell it was a glue up.

  57. virginie D says:

    It is beautiful. Few weeks ago, I have pinned your before-after. Now, i’m planning to do that for 6 doors in the 2nd floor. i have a technical question. I think you didn’t mention it in your step by step (english is not my birth language, i’m french canadian). if the angle of your crown is 45 degrees, you must have a hole on the top. i guess we can see it but a lot of dust can be stock here. So my question is: do you have put something on the top?
    thanks you for your response
    virginie D

    • Hi Virginie, yes it is open up top. If that bothers you that dust will settle in there (because it will), then you can definitely close it off too with another piece of wood.

  58. Ugh!nthis is just too wonderful! Do you mind if I inquire about the paint colour of your walls and trim?

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  60. great idea, I will be using it on my windows to enlarge them. I am tired of the screws pulling away from the drywall because there is no framing where I want the brackets attached. A suggestion for your door that I found when searching online. If you still have scraps of the flat trim that you used to hide the seam, cut a small piece and wrap it to the wall as you did the crown moulding for a more finished look.

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  62. Great work…what brand/model is that miter saw? Thinking of getting one too.

  63. Do you do this on the sides of the door? Love this!

  64. Hello, Wonderful job! Your doors look awesome! I just wanted to clarify… you mentioned that your MDF header was 4 inches wide and that your crown molding that you used was about 4 inches wide as well. Is that correct? So what is the total height that you added above your existing trim? Thank you so much for your reply!

  65. I love you!

    I bought a house three years ago and one of the things that REALLY bugs me is the insufficient molding around the doors and the 3″ baseboards.

    I’m going to do this! Have you thought about adding to the vertical molding around the door?

  66. Crown molding can be difficult when you do an entire room. It’s not challenging on something as tiny this project.

  67. Anonymous says:

    I have a crown molding project this weekend and this will be an addition. Thanks for the idea great look.

  68. I have a crown molding project this weekend and this will be an addition. Thanks for the idea great look.

  69. I simply love what you did, but I still don’t think I could do such beautiful job like you did. To nervous!

  70. Can you do this with a miter box? I don’t have a saw.


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