Giving Your Closet Doors Some Character

Submitted By: Batchelors Way

At last an update on the Pirate Room!!!
 We have finally finished Pimping out the closet doors.
 (Don’t judge me on how long we spent on the closet doors!)
(Crazy I know, but it’s all in the details)
I’m going to share how we did ours and what we learned in the process.
 (That implies we made some mistakes.)
(I call it the Learning curve.)
So, last we talked these were the boys doors.
 Plain white!
Not very good for a Pirate!
Step one,
 (Stick with me this is a long post)
I painted the doors a chocolate brown color.
I wasn’t very picky on the color,
 so I just went with some left over opps paint my sister had.
 That made the first step FREE!
(I love free.)
It was flat paint but was only the base coat for the faux finish so it didn’t matter.


When done the doors looked like giant Hershey bars.
(I know I think too much about chocolate.)
After they dried really well I prepped them for the next step.
 I used painters tape and taped off the middle, top and bottom sections.
(see below)
For the next step I used the following products:
Black and Brown craft paint
Valspar Clear Mixing Glaze
Wood graining tool
Then I just dumped a lot of brown craft paint and a little black
 (cause I wanted it darker)
and some glaze into an ice cream bucket.
  I’m not very scientific about it
but I took a picture so you could get and idea of how much of each I used.
(If its not right just dump more accordingly)
Then mix it up and your ready to start faux painting.


I just painted on the glaze in a section then I pulled the graining tool through the glaze,
gently rocking it as I went.
The grain needs to go the direction it would on a real wood door.
Below the red shows which direction I did the graining in each section.
 The green numbers are the order I went in.
The blue is where I put the painters tape while doing glazing step one through three.
(This gives you a straight edge and looks nice.)
Take the tape off before you glaze sections #4.
Here’s where I made my first mistake.
(I know you can’t believe I make any mistakes!! lol )
After removing the tape I tried taping it over what I had glazed.
 Don’t do this,
 unless you want to have to go back and touch up where the tape rips off your new faux finish.
 (And yes, I waited for it to dry!)
(Maybe if you waited a day it would work, but I’m too impatient for that.)
So, just use a steady hand on section four.
Here’s what I had when I finished this step.
(see below)
And here’s some tips I learned by trial and error.
1. Make long gentle rocks.
My first doors I just rocked it quickly which just made the door look fake with way to many knots.
 (If you want to fix this like I may have done, just reglaze it and rock again.)
2.  Don’t apply too much pressure.
 You want a lot more of the glazed and small amounts of the base coat peeking through.
3.  Stand back and look at it often and adjust your technique.
4.  Start on the back where it won’t be as visible till you really get your technique down.
5. On the edges and hard to reached parts I used the comb part of the tool.
 Since these parts would show the cross cut of the grain on a real wood door.


After you stand back and admire your work for awhile, let this dry for a few days.
Then your ready to put on the clear coat to protect it.
 I use Minwax Polycrylic Protective finish in satin sheen.
Now we come to the part of the story that made me cry and curse!
 The Clear Coat!
That sounds easy right?
I painted the first coat with some leftover product I had from my bathroom.
 It looked fine.
 But the can suggest three coats.
 I decided I would do two.
  I ran out just after I started the second coat on the first door.
 So off to the store I went so I could finish them that Saturday night.
 I went to Walmart and purchased a new can for $16.22.
 I came home and did the last coat.
After it dried it was freaking glossy.
It looked like crap! 

 I was so upset that I had done the second coat.
Then I realized that the section I had done with the first can was a nice satin finish.
 I decided that I had purchased a can that had been mislabled!
 I had just put a high gloss finish on all that hard work and it looked terrible.
 I was so mad and decided to call the manufacture and demand justice.
 I mean all that work and now I would have to sand off that shinny finish to apply a new one and probably screw up the faux paint finish.
I just knew I would have to start all over.
 But that was Saturday and I had to wait until Monday to call.
All weekend every piece of wood I saw taunted me with,
“Look I have a nice satin finish!”
(I know your worrried that I’m talking to wood!)
Monday morning finally came and I made that fateful call to Minwax.
In case your in tears now, don’t worry the Minwax people helped fix my problems.
It turns out the only difference between gloss and satin finish it a flattening agent.
 That agent tends to sink to the bottom.
You need to stir it well and often to get it off the bottom.
(Stir don’t shake, that produces bubbles.)
(Ok it says right on the can to stir and I had. Maybe not for three to five minutes like the lady on the phone said but I had stirred it!)
I also found out that I had purchased a can that was four years old!!
 (You can image how settled that flattening agent was.)
 She also taught me how to read the date code on the top of the can.
I also learned
(can’t believe how much I learned in one phone call)
that you don’t have to sand the gloss finish off.
The last coat applied is the one that reflects the light.
Armed with all my new knowledge I returned to Walmart,
returned my can,
found a new can on the shelf with a newer date,
 and purchased it.
 I then did a light sanding like you should between coats,
and stirred my new product for 5 minutes
 (Yes, I timed it!)
 I then repainted the doors and waited for it to dry.
If you are still reading this novel,
 I hope this story saves you some heartache!!
Moral of the story STIR when it says stir!!!
So after much ado, here they are.


That could be the happy ending to our door story,
 but we still have the iron studds to put on.
 You can buy real iron studs from $1.50 to $3 per stud.
 I needed 16 studs per door and I have four doors.
 That’s 64 studs.
 OK do the math,
 that’s about $90-192 for just the studs.
 Not in our budget!!!
Here’s what we did.
We  purchased 1inch wood plugs or buttons.
 They came in bags of 6 at Lowe’s.
They cost about $20 for all 64.
That saved me about $70 to $170.
Then Les sanded about 30 flat spots on each head with a belt sander.
(He’s just as crazy as I am.)
(That’s one of the reasons I love him so much.)
Next he sprayed them black and hand painted each one with a coat of stirred satin clear coat.
 (I know I’m pictured slaving away painting those cute little buttons,)
( but I only painted like two.  Les painted over 60!)
Here’s what they looked like out of the package, sanded, and finished.
 This was totally Les’ project.
He makes me so proud.
Next Les marked the door with his high tech gauge
(Scrap wood and a nail.)
 Then he drilled the holes.
(Yes, this is scary making huge holes in your lovely new doors.)
We had a little learning curve here also.
  Pay attention when drilling.
 Our last door Les got a little use to it and didn’t realize the tip had pierced the backside of the door.
(Touch up! Its a lovely thing.)
 Les then used his thumb to clean up the fuzzies around the holes.
He used his fingers to apply the glue and popped them into place.
 (Make sure you wipe up the excess glue before it dries.)
Last step was to add the handles.
We used gate handles.
They worked great except we had to use lag screws to attache them and then paint the heads.
So finally here’s our Pirate closet doors.
Close ups.
What do you think?
  I would love to hear if you can sympathize with my learning curves
and if they are of any help to any one.
 Well now for my favorite part.
How much did I save?
According to the guy at Lowe’s all four doors would have cost me $800 to $2000.
 (depending on if they were solid wood or not)
How much did it cost us.
Doors(two from the Restore)………………………….$20
Doors(two damaged doors from Lowe’s)………..$57
Paint and clear coat……………………………………….$24
Wood buttons……………………………………………….$20
Misc. and door framing wood ………………………..$40
Grand Total for all four doors
Got to love it!
I think they turned out pretty good.
Tell me what do ya think.
  I need some comments after such an ordeal!!

Want more beautiful door inspiration? Check these out:

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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!My fiance is in love with the doors and so I am….we will be doing thi in his office……LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. It’s really great! I learned a ton about the wax, thanks! I know, everything IS a learning curve!! Did you see my Tuscan Door makeover just the other week (or two?) on here? I had to do a lot of what you did except that my door was brand new and I had ordered it wrong (my fault, didn’t see actual wood samples) but somehow I had to save my door and fix it!!! Makes me happy to be a DIYer when it acutally turns out and you turned lemons into lemonade!

    Stop by and say hi!

  3. You are insane! These are so fantastic!
    Thanks for the tip on finding a date on the can- that’s a nightmare I want to avoid.
    You should reward yourself with a trip to the spa for all this work. : )
    Really, really great transformation.

  4. How awesome!! I would love to do this to one of the doors in my house!! You did a great job with the finished product and the tutorial!

  5. Those look amazing! Wondering if you could have used upholstery tacks in stead of sanding all those buttons?? Do they come in larger sizes?

  6. Not only are the doors fantastic, but you did such a stellar job of explaining the steps (tips). I’m not going to do doors, but I learned alot never the less. Way to go!

  7. The doors look great…great way to “richen” up a room! I can see several color options, like a pop of color to any room….I would love to do red closet doors with an antique finish. FUN!

  8. You did an amazing job!! I really wanted a front entry door in this style, but they were about $1000. What a great way to diy this yourself and save a ton of money. They look great!

  9. I saw this on Pinterest, and I have to say I am just about as impressed as a person can be!!!!!!! You guys did a fantabulous job! I bow to you for the work you put into it, too! You came up with some really creative ideas to save money. Thank you for sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly (really? went right through the back of the door with the drill, did he??!?!?) with us all! Very creative!!!

  10. Okay I wasn’t sure what you had gotten yourself into and I was so glad it wasn’t me! But they turned out FANTASTIC! I’ve never even tried something like this. How hard is it to use the tool to make the wood grain? Can you come to my house and show me personally? 😉

  11. They look GREAT! They turned out perfect and look like the high end order/store bought doors. Deffinetly a lot of work in details but it looks like it totally paid off. I would take those with me if I moved lol.