When it comes right down to it, this little bugger on our basement door should have been taken care of years ago.
How I’ve managed to live with a big ol’ ugly, filthy pet access door that I’ve never actually needed, I’m not sure. It’s effected me in such a way that I rarely take pictures in this general direction, and in real life I’ve tended to avert my eyes like the door has an incurable skin condition, so go ahead and look at it like it’s a wall in the house you’ve never seen before, ooh, ahh. Sure, the little dog/cat door may have been happily functional for previous families, but our dog’s head wouldn’t even fit through the opening, so instead of being convenient and useful, it’s just been an eyesore, and on top of that, it’s never looked completely clean (there are gouges and scratches in the plastic and in the “window” from previous pets). The problem child of all of the unmatching doors in our home, I long thought it non-repairable because it had that hole cut directly into it.
The solution, after many years of shopping for reclaimed doors that were resoundingly not the right style for the house, being way too long, way too short, or way too wide, was to take matters into my own hands and transform our sad little door into this:
I went about this mini-transformation inexpensively last week, during which time I sketched concepts for door detailing to my little heart’s desire, finally landing on one that I liked, and then scoped out measurements to ensure that I was going to be create four completely identical and centered rectangles on the existing door. Every door is different and every dog door is (probably) different (what do I know) so if you’re going to try this at home, don’t follow my exact sketch measurements but take the time to customize your framing to your own needs.
In my case, there were only two big points of consideration: The lowest rectangle needed to be low enough to cover the low-riding dog door hole, and the edge that intersected the doorknob would need to be slightly customized to wrap around the knob. I mapped the entire plan out with masking tape to visualize the whole idea to scale, and then removed the dog door and got busy.
My plan scared me a little bit; I couldn’t get away with just adding plain trim to the solid door like you sometimes see creative people doing because the hole in the bottom of the door needed to be completely covered, and it wasn’t tiny – it was a good 10″ in height. To correct this issue, I relied on a 2′ x 4′ x 1/4″ birch board and twelve 1/2″ x 3″ x 3′ pine craft boards (a total $35 investment); the 1/4″ panel was as thin as I was able to source at our local stores, and the surrounding trim needed to be slightly thicker to achieve the framed effect (it worked great, but originally I envisioned something even thinner, like 1/8″ paneling paired with 1/4″ boards).
To prepare the boards, I cut everything to size based on the careful measurements I had prepared. The 2×4 panel cut easily with a jigsaw sporting a fine tooth blade and a guide rail clamped on to run along. I used the chop saw for the craft board pieces, choosing to miter the corners of each frame instead of using lap joints. Mitered corners just always look a little cleaner in my opinion, and I hoped the finished project would look nice and be something we (or someone in the future) could live with without having to immediately replace with something new.
Once everything was cut, I sanded the edges and began to install very slowly and carefully with the help of Liquid Nails Heavy Duty adhesive and some simple lightweight masking tape to help hold the pieces of wood in place while the glue dried.
A few notes:
- This was a hollow door, and that’s why I relied on heavy duty adhesive (thankfully it worked really well, even on the 1/2″ craft boards). If it had been a solid door, I would certainly have preferred to use the brad nailer instead.
- Also, the glue dries fast, which is nice, but still remains flexible for a few minutes while you check, double check, triple check, and yes, often quadruple check each board placement in relation to the edges of the door, to the boards surrounding it, and to level.
- I worked from top to bottom for no good reason. Do as you wish.
A new more notes:
- The doorknob? I used a Dremel with a round sanding bit to lightly sand away a small area for the doorknob to sit within. No dramatic saw action required.
- New knob! I went for stainless this time, as the old knob was brass.
- For all intents and purposes, yes, there is still a hole on the backside of our door. I already have supplies to repair that side when I get a moment, another $35.
I let the glue dry for a day, and then followed up with a neat application of painter’s caulk around every conceivable surface to make it appear as finished as possible, and after another day, I painted the entire door with two coats of no-VOC Behr self-priming white paint.
It appears that we have a brand new door for less than $40.
- 12 pine craft boards, 3″ x 36″ x 1/2″ – $2.25/each
- 1 birch 2′ x 4′ x 1/4″ board – $7.50
- Doorknob – $10.00
- One tube of Liquid Nails Heavy Duty Adhesive – $2.50
- One 10oz. tube of painter’s caulk – $1.58
- Behr no-VOC self-priming white paint – already owned, but roughly $27.00
I really like how it looks from the living room too, a subtle update that really makes the plain, cheap door look better in our home.
What unsightly features in your home have you managed to conceal lately?