DIY Shaker Door

DIY Shaker Door

I’m a maker. And I love houses. And while I love making photographs I spend a lot of my free time making things for our home. Like taking a boring slab door and turning it into a charming-yet-modern four panel shaker door.

DIY Shaker Door

The thing was, we had this plain-jane, never painted, oddball size closet door underneath the stairs in our living room. And it’s located directly across from the couch. So every time I look up there it is. An uninspired door. I wish I had a before photo but I don’t, because it was just that boring. But imagine a door that looks like this:


Yes, it’s just a grey rectangle.

So when I saw Jenna Sue’s Plain to Panelled Door Makeover I knew that’s exactly what we needed. But because our door is an unusual size I couldn’t just look online to see which panel size I liked best so I drew out some options in PhotoShop to see which felt right.


Our favourite was four panels using 4 inch wood strips (bottom left).

I used some one side finished 1/4 inch plywood we had in the basement that was leftover from another project. It was probably thicker than what I needed but I can’t resist making something out of nothing, or in this case something out of scraps. If you don’t have a pile of extra plywood hanging around you can always buy a nice thin piece at the hardware store, and if you go to one of the big box variety you can even have them cut it all up for you.

Using a table saw Darren and I cut the plywood into 4 inch strips, then cut each of those strips to length. I won’t bore you with my measurements because I’m certain they won’t fit your door, but essentially we cut two long pieces that fit the height of the door and five shorter pieces to go across.

I popped the pins out of the door hinges and laid the whole thing down on the floor so it was easier to work with. We cut the long pieces first then glued and nailed them in place. I had planned on just nailing them but because the door is hollow the nails didn’t hold the wood as tightly to the door as I liked so I added a bit of wood glue to the backside of the strips and weighed it down with books while it was drying. I know Jenna used a nail gun to put hers on but I don’t have one of those so I just used a hammer and some small finishing nails and it worked like a charm.

While the glue was setting I marked where I wanted my horizontal boards to sit, starting with the top and bottom, then jumping to the one across the middle, then centring the other two in the remaining spaces. It just seemed to be the easiest way to keep the panels even. I measured across for each horizontal board so they’d fit perfectly between the two vertical pieces and cut, glued, and nailed them in place.


Once the glue had set I used wood filler to hide all my nail holes and to clean up all the seams where the horizontal boards met the vertical ones. I don’t think wood filler was the ideal thing to use, it seemed too dry and just wasn’t easy to work with. Next time I’ll try spackle to see if it works any better. When the wood filler firmed up I gave the whole thing a light sanding to get it ready for paint. I wasn’t able to paint it right away so we hung it back up for a week and we were already thrilled with the improvement!

DIY Shaker Door - In Progress

When it came time to paint I just left it hanging so I could do the whole without having to wait for one side to dry before I flipped it over and did the other. I started with one coat of Stix Waterborne Primer then a couple coats of white paint. All the whites in our house are Benjamin Moore’s Simply White, which also happens to be their colour for 2016. For this door I used some leftover Benjamin Moore Regal Select paint with a pearl finish we had in the basement.

We chose to go with a magnet to hold the door closed instead of a regular doorknob because then we could use a nice simple-yet-slightly-rustic black door handle to finish it off. Though now that I’m looking at it I think we need to do something about those gold hinges.

DIY Shaker Door

Looks pretty sharp huh? I love how architectural details can take a space up ten notches!

Shop Now

Choose Wall Art Size Opt-In Banner

53 thoughts on “DIY Shaker Door

  1. Sylvia says:

    Jen, this looks awesome! I love the black handle and black hinges would finish it perfectly. I wish I had your aptitude for this sort of thing; I’d love to update the hallway closets!

    • Jennifer Lee Owens says:

      Does the addition thickness of the added wood framing not interfere with the proper operation of the hinges? It seems to me that door wood not open properly.

  2. justine says:

    Hi love the tutorial! What type of plywood and thickness did you use? I want to do this to my door as well but have no idea where to start!

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Justine, I’m not sure what type of plywood it is, it was scraps we had in our basement from another project. I’m thinking it was one-side-finished though I don’t think it matters if you’re going to be painting it, just give it a good sanding first.

      Mine is 3/8 of an inch thick but it will look nice with any thickness, plus the thinner the plywood the cheaper it will be.

      Your door is probably larger than ours, so why not start by using painter’s tape to mask off how it will look with 4 inch wide boards with, say, five panels, then tweak it from there.

      • Connie says:

        Jennifer, how do you do both sides? I was looking at mine and wouldn’t it throw the side of the door that has the door jam off? Would you gave to move the doorjam? My door opens into the rooms from the hallway. I can see it not making a difference from the inside of the room but the hallway side would not work. Can you please respond snd explain?

  3. Joseph Lucca says:

    This is clever! Does the plywood (I see you mention you used 3/8″) now raise your door above the surrounding doorframe at all? I’m thinking if I add 3/8″ plywood around the edge of any of my flat doors they will no longer be flush with the surrounding door frame and it might look strange. Just wondering how you handled that? Thanks!

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Joseph, Great question! In my particular situation the trim around my doorframe seems to be a similar thickness to the additional plywood strips I added to my door, so their isn’t anything weird going on. Try holding a small piece of plywood up against your door and see how it looks. If you’re not happy maybe your hardware store offers something thiner. Happy trimming!

  4. Susie says:

    Remove door jam and replace so door closes properly! Jenna Sue posted on her tutorial! Looks great! Also, she said she used cheap 1/4″ plywood paneling by beadboard at Lowes! I’m so doing this! I’ve been replacing door moulding and joint compound works great, easy to sand too!!

  5. Tammy says:

    What did you do with the edges of the door? If you did this with a door that is open all the time the edge of the door would need to be covered somehow to hid the separate pieces of wood

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Tammy, I just left the edges of the door so you can still see the wood layer. I don’t mind. Mine is a closet so 95% of the time it’s closed anyways. You could try caulking or wood filler to clean it up a bit, especially if you’re painting the whole thing white.

  6. Kelly Hopkins says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    We flooded back in August in Louisiana, And have a total kitchen project underway. I have the Shaker cabinets and have been searching for the perfect pantry door. Thanks to you I found It! ?

  7. Joette Tavernise says:

    Jennifer, love your door! I have a closet door I would like to do. My question is what to do about the hole that will be left where the doorknob is. I think your handle-type makes the door. Thanks, Joette

  8. Joette Tavernise says:

    Jennifer, Joette again. Just looked and saw your replays were a year ago! I’m reading this on Pinterest, so if its past sell by date, don’t feel like you have to answer. Catch you another time.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Letty, Great question! I did not have to change anything on the door frame, however, since it’s a closet which doesn’t get used much, I only did the outside of the door. The inside is still plain-jane.

  9. Laurel says:

    this is GORGEOUS and I’m thinking of tackling a similar design for the inside of my apartment’s front door. Some folks who have tackled this, have mentioned having to move the door jam, but it doesn’t look like the added weight of the plywood had any effect on your hinges or doorjam or anything, right? So everything just gets to stay where it’s at?? beautiful!

  10. AmyJo Olson-Lundin says:

    Jennifer.. This is amazing! I have been looking for something to do with my bedroom doors and this is it! I can’t wait to try this! Thank you so much for sharing this great tutorial! Happy DIYing!

  11. Eileen says:

    Love love love this door update!! Unfortunately I need to hire a carpenter to do it becuase I don’t have the appropriate tools and we’re doing it to the front and back of a heavily used door so I know we need some adjustment to the frame as well so it closes. Have you ever had any issues with heat/cold warping or causing any other issues to the plywood? Looks so beautiful!! Just wish I had more skills/tools to be able to do it myself so affordable!!

  12. Alexei says:

    It would be better to do it out of MDF, since plywood has a rough edges. you can cut it right in the hardware store out of whole sheet 4ftx8ft it will cost you about $20.

    • Jennifer says:

      Great tip Alexei! I have absolutely zero experience working with MDF, so I can’t speak to it. Plus I already had plywood scraps in the basement – it’s so much fun to make something out of nothing!

  13. Bridget says:

    I have bedroom doors that I would love to do like this! So i would need to do BOTH sides! Dumb question. … would that affect the fit of the doorknob? B/c the door is now thicker, right?

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks Raymond! I’m pretty happy with it! The door is on a weird little closet under our staircase that doesn’t get opened much, yet stares us in the face when we’re in our living room. So I only did the outside, avoiding any problems with the jam on the inside.

  14. Lindsay Berg says:

    Hi! I love this tutorial! I am going to attempt this to a metal door going from our SUPER small laundry room into our garage. Curious if you would trust to just use liquid nails, or if I should somehow reinforce it? It’s unfortunately not as easy as a nail gun due to the fact that the door is metal. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.