5 Panel Door from a Flat Hollow Core Door

Plain Flat Hollow Core Door to 5-Panel Black Door

(click here to jump back to see the DIY faux salvaged wood door tutorial)

DIY Paneled Door on a Budget by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic


This is the door to our master bedroom, which used to look like this:

How to Create a Painted Paneled Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

After I painted our walls an almost white/super light gray shade, this space turned into the hallway of no color. Black was the answer! I headed to Lowe's and bought a $12 piece of 1/4″ (actual thickness = 0.2″) 4×8′ sheet of plywood. It's in the molding/paneling section (next to the beadboard) and it is pink toned on one side, which is perfect for painting. The price has recently increased to $14, but still a great deal!

Since the door surface is smooth (unlike our original foyer door), I didn't need to cover it with anything (whew!)

You'll need a table saw to rip the pieces down to your desired width or you can have Lowe's or Home Depot do it for free—just tell them to cut carefully 🙂

On this door I also used a nail gun (with 1/2″ 18 gauge finish nails) to secure the pieces, but again you can use liquid nails with clamps held on overnight since the plywood is so lightweight.

How to DIY a 5 Panel Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

Flip it over and repeat for the other side. Again, you'll need an arbor to drill out a hole for the door handle.

Once all my pieces were attached, I sanded down the rough edges with my Mouse.

5 Panel Painted Door DIY by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

Then I spackled the nail holes and caulked where the boards met the door for a seamless look.

How to Turn a Plain Door into a 5 Panel Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

After drying overnight, I gave everything a nice thorough sanding with finer grit sandpaper (including the actual door panel).

How to Upgrade a Plain Door into a 5 Panel Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

Just like the foyer door, the casing had to be adjusted so it would close properly, since I added almost 1/2″ of depth onto the door.

First I cut a line with a sharp edge on all sides…

Plain Door Upcycle into 5 Paneled Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

Then pried the pieces off. Luckily these ones came off really easily (you can see the three pieces in the hallway).

Redesign an Old Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

Some of the nails will stay in the door casing which you can just hammer back in, and break off the ones stuck in the molding.

Then I cleared the built up caulk from the door casing and the trim pieces so it was nice and clean for reinstallation:

How to Reuse an Old Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

I decided to hang the door back up first before painting it because 1) it was 100° in the garage, and 2) I could turn on the TV in our room to make it more enjoyable. It really doesn't matter either way, you just have to be slightly more careful to not paint the casing.

Add Style to a Plain Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

I used Valspar's Signature Dark Kettle Black in a satin finish. The coverage is amazing… here's after just one coat:

Add Style to an Old Door with Panels and Paint by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

Of course the plywood took to it better than the painted white door—it almost covered in just one coat!

All it needed was two coats and a few touchups. Easy, fast paint job (excuse the poor lighting).

Create a Custom 5 Panel Painted Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

Black kitty approved.

Once the knob was back on, I shut the door and nailed the casing pieces back in place so the new door would close properly.

Add Style to an Old Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

Then I filled the nail holes and caulked it back in, sanded and painted.
Ahhh… so rich.

How to Create a Stylish 5 Panel Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

It's a little difficult to see the detail through photos (I have to bump up the exposure a bit, hence the grainy-ish pics) but it's really lovely in person.

How to Create a Stylish 5 Panelled Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

I love the way it ties into the wall paneling.

How to Create a Painted 5 Panel Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

I'll be converting all of the doors eventually. This hallway needs some loving, I know. One step at a time.

How to Add Style to an Plain Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

It's extra lovely dressed up for the holidays…

How to Create a Custom 5 Panel Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

How to Create a 5 Panel Door from a Hollow Core Door by Jenna Sue Design Co featured on @Remodelaholic

What do you think? If you have $14 lying around and a free afternoon, I promise you can tackle this yourself! No helper needed. And if you don't have old flat doors to start with, they are readily available at places like ReStore, thrift stores, Craigslist or your local Facebook buy & sell groups (people often give them away). So worth the effort for something you can enjoy in your home forever.

I hope this tutorial can help inspire and motivate those of you out there who feel stuck with your existing outdated doors. There is hope, and it's so much cheaper and easier than you think!

Head over to my blog for lots more DIY inspiration and projects—and make sure to stop by the DIY Projects page for all of my tutorials, ranging from easy wall paneling to an inexpensive fabric tufted headboard, a rustic sliding barn door and more!


And as always, catch me over on instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to see what we're currently up to!


Thanks for sharing with us, Jenna! Such amazing style from humble beginnings.

Click over to Jenna Sue Designs to see Jenna's beautiful homes (all 3 are lovely!) and her awesome DIY skills on projects big and small, like clever and easy bedside shelves and a beautiful kitchen ceiling.

Coming up first thing tomorrow in #ShutTheFrontDoorDIY:

(be sure to subscribe by RSS or email to get updates for every post of Shut The Front Door DIY week)

Add closet or cabinet storage by building a shelf on the back of the door @Remodelaholic

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wow! I love the update of your old door! we have the cheap-o hollow doors all throughout our home and I despise them! I was thinking of just purchasing new doors and that obviously would be very expensive. I love this alternative! I think this project is something my hubby and I can do together 😉 Thank You for sharing your creativity!

This is great! New doors are on our wish list, but not in the budget. Like all my DIY projects, my husband will be skeptical, so I’ll do a door makeover when he isn’t home and he’ll just come home to the awesomeness. 🙂

One questions: Do the hinges need to be moved so the door closes flush with the wall?

Yes, you will need to notch out the 4″ strip that lies on the hinge pin side of the door, you will want to do that before you apply the strip and will most likely need a jig saw for that. Your also going to need a drill to screw on the hinges once complete, because the screw holes won’t be in the same place as before.

Love the look! We bought new doors to update our house when we first moved in, but didn’t realize you couldn’t take a door off and put a new one on and it fit perfectly. Needless to say we returned the doors. This will be a much better option for us and our boring slab doors. I am also curious if you had to move the hinges?

Wow! I adore five-paneled doors, but can’t afford to replace all mine. Thanks so much! What are the dimensions of the cuts that need to be made to the plywood to create the panels?

I have been to my local Lowe’s and Home Depot, neither one will cut the quarter inch plywood. They say it’s a safety issue. Any ideas?

Mahalo for sharing this idea. I will be doing this very same project starting next week. Can you tell me how this impacted the installation of the door knob. How did adding 1/2 inch to the door impact the installation of door knob? Did u use a spacer?

Okay, you have just saved me. My handyman declined on my project request to replace the old ugly brown wood hollow core doors with updated ones (saying they are too temper-mental to get a good fit). What’s a girl to do? The rest of the house has been completely remodeled except for doors and trim/baseboard.

And then the heavens opened and the angels began to sing ‘Ahhhhhhh’. I will definitely be doing this project. Thank you, thank you for being brave, going for it, and sharing it with all of us!

Do you think I need to TSP or something on the brown wood doors before painting them white? Or a light sand?

I did this to my bedroom door however ran into a problem putting the door knob back in because the thickness of the door changed. Did you run into this problem & if so what was your solution. Our door is now 2″ thick & standard door knobs do not accommodate to that thickness.