Our guest bedroom isn’t nearly the disaster that our guest bathroom was, but it’s still quirky. When I repainted the room and added decorative details to the walls, I was in and out of the room enough to confirm that the door into the room was an annoying problem. It had to open into the room and swing away from the corner because of where the light switch was on the wall. And because the room is pretty small, when the door was open, it awkwardly took up a lot of room.
So, changing to narrower double doors was a pretty obvious option. They wouldn’t be as intrusive or take up as much room, plus a narrower door wouldn’t cover the light switch on the wall.
Problem: I did not want to pay for double doors.
But…I already had the original door to work with, so couldn’t I make my own?
For once, Pinterest was not a whole lot of help. I couldn’t find many examples at all for how to do this, so I figured it out as I went along. 🤷♀️
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Note that I did this with a hollow door. If you have a solid door, this would be way easier because you wouldn’t have to cover the cut sides that expose the door innards.
Step 1: Measure and remove door. While the door was still hanging in place, I used a tape measurer and found the middle point of the door. Then I used a T-square and drew a straight line down the middle.
That done, I grabbed a screwdriver and removed the handle from the door. This is easier to do than you might expect, and you can just wiggle and yank the parts free once you’ve got the screws out that were holding the 2 sides together. Next, I opened the door wide, grabbed a drill (because faster than a screwdriver), and removed the hinges from the door. Since I was changing out the hinges for all new hardware, I also removed the hinges from the doorway’s frame. (If you’re using the original hinges on that double door, you could just leave them on the doorframe.)
With the door now off, I hauled it up to my garage.
Step 2: Cut the doors to the right width. Using my new table saw, I carefully ran the door through so that it cut down the middle, along that line I’d made. Now I had 2 parts!
Here is where math came in. I had to make sure that the 2 doors ended up being no wider than the original width of the single door, obviously. Since my cut sides now exposed that the doors were hollow, I needed to run 1x2s the full height of each cut side to cover that up. This meant I needed to cut each door further to allow for the 1x2s’ added width. I also decided to leave a slight gap between the doors to make adding hardware/hinges easier. (More on that later.)
I ended up cutting an additional 7/8 inch off each door. This was easy on my table saw (love that thing!), and soon I had my doors the right width.
Step 3: Add 1x2s to cover the hollow sides. I quickly measured the full length of the doors and then cut 2 straight 1x2s with a miter saw to that length.
Since the hollow doors didn’t leave much to attach the 1x2s to, I also cut little chunks of 1x2s to fit inside the hollow doors. These I spaced inside so they’d be flush with the cut side of the door, and then I used 5/8 inch brad nails to nail them securely from the underside of the door.
With these securely in place, I quickly used a pencil and marked off on the top of the door where they were located – this would let me know where to nail once the long 1×2 side pieces covered them up.
Next I was able to line up my long 1x2s so they covered the hollow sides, and then I simply nailed them where my securing little 1x2s filled the hollow space inside.
Side note: Again, if you’re using a solid door, you can skip all that.
These sides with the 1x2s now were the sides that would meet in the middle of the doorway. I wanted to use the original door’s hinge grooves when rehanging the door, so that side was on my right. For the left-hand door, I needed to flip around the door so my new door handle could be cut in the right spot. (The old hole we’ll cover later.)
Step 4: Cut a new door handle hole. After some debate, I decided to place my new hole about 36 inches up from the bottom. It’s very important to take into consideration the added 1×2 when determining your handle’s placement…which I didn’t do the first time around but I’m telling you the right way now. 😜 A good cheat is to use the existing door hole for your measurements. My hole needed to be (like that standard hole) 1 and 1/4 inches from the edge of the door, and it needed to be about 2 inches wide. I happened to have a small cup that allowed me to trace a 2-inch circle.
You could use a hole saw, but (long story less long) my 2-inch hole saw was out of commission. Since this hole is covered by the door handle anyway, it didn’t have to be perfect, and I’m pretty good with my jigsaw. So, first I used the biggest drill bit I could find and drilled a starting hole along the circle I’d traced. Then I took my jigsaw and cut around my traced line to create the hole for my door handle. This had to be cut all the way through so both sides of the door had an even hole, and my jigsaw did just fine with that.
I took my new door handle and tested it out to find it fit 👍. Next, I needed to cut a hole in the 1×2 on the side to allow the latch to go through. This was easy enough just using the giant drill bit and carving out a hole even with the middle of my cut circle.
I’d also need to cut a hole for this latch on the other door so this would work, but I decided to hold off until the doors were hanging so I’d be absolutely positive where the latch needed to line up.
Step 5: Rehang the hinges and doors. Starting with the door that already had the original hinge grooves, I took my new hinges and used a drill to attach them to the doorframe. Then I lifted the new door into place (propped on my foot, since this halved door was so light) and screwed that door onto the waiting hinges.
It swung perfectly!
Happy with that one, I moved to the other side. I used a level across the doorway and marked on the doorframe where the hinges needed to be to line up with the first side. Then I screwed the hinges into the doorframe.
Now, because this side doesn’t have grooves cut out for the hinges, they will protrude a bit and take away from the width available for your doors. That’s why I’d given myself a little extra room when cutting my doors to the right width. You could use an oscillating saw and cut grooves for your hinges – and I tried this at first – but honestly it worked just fine by attaching them straight onto the doorframe since I had some wiggle room. Just be SURE you measure and account for your hinges from the beginning! Fortunately, they don’t stick out enough to be noticeable because of the doorjamb.
Holding my second door in place, I used a pencil to mark for sure where each hinge needed to line up. (Since there are no hinge grooves, I wanted to be confident when I was screwing it secure for good.) Next, I grabbed a drill and screwed the hinges into that door where I’d marked.
Holding my breath, I closed both the doors together…and they were too wide near the middle. I’m honestly not sure exactly why this was (I suspect my doorframe isn’t plumb), but it ended up being a simple fix by just removing the middle hinge entirely. 🤷♀️ Since these doors are so light, I didn’t need that hinge for support anyway. And again because of the doorjamb, you can’t see that the middle hinge is missing.
Now my doors closed!
Step 6: Cut the latch hole in the other door. With the doors closed, I got on my knees and used a pencil to mark through my door handle’s hole onto the other door where the latch hole needed to be. With this generally marked location, I opened the doors and traced a nicer line for where I needed to cut for the latch. Then I used my big drill bit and cut about 3/4 inch into the 1×2 to create a cavity for the latch.
Step 7: Prep door and paint. It was one of my smarter ideas to paint the doors before adding the door handles so that I didn’t have to paint around them or risk dripping all over them.
First, it’s important to caulk along the edges of the 1x2s so there aren’t any gaps between them and the rest of the door. I also used wood putty to fill all the nail holes.
With that prep work done, I painted everything with a fresh coat of white. (This might’ve been easier if I’d taken the doors back off the hinges, but the paint wiped off the hinges easily enough when I inevitably goofed.) I went over the 1x2s with a few extra coats to get them to match with the already-white doors. I probably should have used primer, but oh well. I was also sure to paint well over the caulk. I did this on each side of the doors.
When that was dry, I used a glossy polyurethane and rolled that over my whole doors. This was both for protection and because my trim paint is glossy, so that just looks like the best finish on the doors.
Step 8: Add door handle hardware. Once the poly was dry, I took my door handle, assembled it through my door’s new handle hole, and screwed it tightly in place. I tested the placement of my latch hole in the other door and found it lined up perfectly and was deep enough. So, I took the strike plate (for the latch) and screwed that in place. I then tested everything by closing the doors again, and fortunately there was still enough room even with this added strike plate. (If you find there’s not enough space, you can use an oscillating saw or even a sander to carve in a groove for the strike plate.)
Next, I measured for the location of my dummy handle on the other door. I used a level and marked the height where it would match the first door’s handle. Then I marked how far in it needed to be from the 1×2 edge. With the placement figured out, I simply screwed the dummy handle onto the door. Easy!
Step 9: Cover the old door handle hole. There are several different ways you could do this finishing step. I considered all kinds of molding options to decorate the door and cover my old door hole(s). You could nail on thin plywood like I did on my faux-shiplap doors. You could do all kinds of board and batten looks. I even thought about sticking on mirror squares to cover the whole doors and then covering the mirror edges with narrow molding to make the whole doors look like decorative mirrors (I still think that would look cool).
I ended up keeping it fairly simple.
First, I measured where I wanted my decorative pieces to cover the hole(s). Then I used a level to make straight lines across the doors. Next taking a whole bunch of little bamboo sticks, I glued them on across the doors, using my lines to make sure I was level. I did this to both doors, using a combination of hot glue and wood glue because I kept running out of one or the other. 😬
With those pieces on (around 50 for each door), I next cut a few scrap pieces of cool molding that I’d used in the guest bathroom. These I placed at the tops and bottoms of the bamboo sticks, and I nailed them on with my nail gun.
Once the glue dried, I painted all this with the same white as the rest of my doors. It looked pretty cool!
I could’ve done this on the other side of the doors too, but this style wasn’t quite the same vibe as what’s going on in our main basement area. (The “vibe” here is best described as pure child toy chaos punctuated by mommy’s valiant efforts at decorating.) So, for the exterior side of the doors, I decided to simply run boards across the doors – careful to place one right over the door hole(s) – and cut their ends at angles so they wouldn’t stick out too much. I spaced these boards equally on the 2 doors and nailed them on.
I puttied the nail holes, then painted them the same white. Once this was done, I went over everything again with a coat of poly to smooth it all together.
And finally, to make the exterior side a little fancier, I took wooden pegs and glued them over the boards to add a cool effect and dimension. These I left their natural wood coloring.
I also added a chalk board on the exterior so we can write notes to our guests.
Now we have double doors that look pretty cool and certainly function better for our guest space! Again, you could paint or do decorative molding any way you like, so I hope this works for you if you need a similar solution.