How to Add Molding Panels to a Flat Door

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

When my sister brought me on to the Topsail Beach condo renovation, she had a laundry list of DIY projects she wanted me to complete. One of them was dressing up the hollow flat doors with moulding panels. She showed me a pin that led to One Life to Love’s DIY beadboard panel doors. After seeing the photo, I knew it would be a great DIY upgrade to make. But, we decided to use real beadboard (instead of beadboard wallpaper) because it had to hold up to the stress of being a rental.

To begin, start by measuring and marking the doors to determine the size of your panels.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Draw lines 5″ in from the top and two sides of your door.  Draw the bottom line  6″ up from the bottom. Finally, leave 5″ between the top and bottom panels.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

When marking your doors, use a pencil and level to draw your lines.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

After we had our panel measurements, Caitlin and I headed to Lowe’s. But, she refused to push me in the cart (party pooper!)


We pulled some 4′ x 8′ beadboard panels and took them to the lumber cutting area. We gave the Lowe’s employer our measurements and asked him to cut the boards for us. While he cut our beadboard, Caitlin and I gathered the rest of our supplies.


How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Beadboard panels
  • Moulding to frame panels
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Construction glue
  • Latex paintable caulk
  • Finish nailer
  • 1 1/4″ finish nails
  • Painter’s tape
  • Hand saw
  • Miter box
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Plastic wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Sanding block


Assess the condition of your door. If there are chips or dings, you need to fix them before proceeding.

Apply wood putty and allow it to dry.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

After dry, sand the putty smooth.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Time to apply the beadboard panels. Squeeze construction glue onto the back of the beadboard panels.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Set the panels on the door and double check the level and plumb of the panel.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Press the panel firmly to spread the glue. Use the finish nailer to secure the panel around the perimeter.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Attach the lower panel next.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

To trim the panel, measure and cut your trim molding to fit around the panel.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Set your top piece in place and secure it with the finish nailer.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Set the side pieces in place. Use painter’s tape to hold the corners tightly. Use more tape to secure the side piece if necessary.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Attach the side molding with finish nails.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Attach the opposite side and the bottom molding pieces. Putty the nail holes and caulk the seams. Then prime and paint the doors.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Ooolala. How about that transformation?!

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

The newly paneled doors make a huge difference in the look of the condo.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

It’s all in the details.

How to Add Panels to Flat Hollow Core Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Like what you see? Take the tour of the entire Topsail Beach Condo Renovation for more upgrade ideas.



  1. What a great looking project! We’re breadboard fans too. To think I just replaced all our flat doors with six panel doors, when I could have done this instead.

  2. Ha ha… I love the door makeover, but even more I LOVE the pic of you in the shopping cart!! I’ll totally push you through the Lowes in a cart any day! Ha ha!!

  3. Brittany H. says:

    I love this. I need a make a list of projects and then I need to make it happen. I love this and I think this is awesome. Hi, I am 21 and I work full time, how do you find time to get all your projects done. I am a beginning DIYer any advice?

    • Brittany, well, considering this blog is my full-time job I make time to finish projects. But, I also make sure to make time for my kids. I don’t watch much TV and I rarely sit still (except when writing posts.) Also, like the HGTV shows, what takes you 5 minutes to read in real life takes several days. But, this is my passion, I love transforming the ugly to beautiful.

  4. This could not be better timing! I just added this project to my list last week. I love the addition of the beadboard. Thanks!

  5. Oh my goodness! I love this! Thank you for sharing this. I’m doing a redesign on my closet this weekend, I’m going to do this! Thanks so much.

  6. Great transformation – love the bead board!
    I have a silly question, one I’ve wondered about many times – How does anything nailed into a hollow core door hold?

    • Tati, the small nails will only hold if you angle them when shooting them in. If you angle them at different angles around the beadboard, they will hold fairly well. But, you’ll also notice that I used construction adhesive for added hold on the beadboard.

  7. I wish I had seen this about a year ago!! It would have saved me a lot of money in new doors!! Love this idea and if I ever move into a house with plain doors, this will be done to them!!!!

  8. Awesome idea that I could use in a rental I have. I’ve always hated the hollow core doors & this is a great solution to replacing them. Awesome post!

  9. Beautifully done! Thanks for the details on this project!

  10. chelsea alexander says:

    Do you know what the approximate cost was? And did you do both sides? I have been considering this but a new door is approximately $75 and I started adding up the cost of the trim and other materials and factoring in time and I came up with a figure close enough to the cost of just replacing the door that I thought I must have added everything up incorrectly! I have 9 doors in my house and would want to do both sides for at least 6 of them, so 12 sides and trim….


    • Chelsea,

      We only did the outside of the door that faced the hallway. The insides are just painted white. I’m checking with my sister who purchased the supplies, but I think the cost was definitely cheaper than buying new doors. I will reply when I get the actual cost. And, this is a lot easier than hanging a new door in existing door jamb. And even easier than removing and hanging a new pre-hung door. Plus, I hate to throw things in the landfill, so this is a perfect project that has little environmental impact.

    • Chelsea, I did a rough estimation on cost, and it cost approximately $25 per door (not including paint.) One 4×8 sheet was cut into 6 panels for three doors. And the molding we used wasn’t very expensive. The other supplies: glue and nails, etc. were minimal cost. And because we already had the tools, I didn’t count that into the estimate.

  11. Amazing. Beautiful. You must look for reasons to walk through those doors, just so you can admire them. Great job!

  12. Kelly Myers says:

    What did you do to the inside of the doors? Just paint them white?

    • Kelly, yes, we didn’t trim the inside of the doors because we were on a tight budget and were mainly trying to improve the view from the boring hallway of doors. So, yes, we just painted them white.

  13. :)

  14. Sharon B. says:

    Beautiful transformation on the doors Brittany! I love the beadboard. I would have to buy a finish nailer to do this to my doors and I notice there are different gauges, like 16, 18, 23 gauge. I assume that refers to the size of the nails. Can you give us some advice on how to choose a decently useful but not too expensive finish nailer? Like what gauge is most useful and any other features to look for. Thanks very much. I too have those ugly brown doors and I don’t want to just paint them. I’ve seen pictures of doors with trim added, but the beadboard makes them look so much more special. Thanks for the great idea!

    • Sharon, yes, gauge is the size of the nails. The higher the number the smaller the nails. I actually did a comparison post on finish nailers. I will be publishing it next week so stay tuned!

  15. That is a pretty awesome project and the result is amazing! I’m in a new home and don’t need to do any update projects like that, but it’s so fun seeing a transformation like this. The finished door looks like it was made that way.


  16. It was just last night that I was thinking to myself, “When I am rich and famous, we can finally replace all the hollow doors out for cute, paneled ones.” Looks like you saved me from buying all new doors! Clever, awesome, fabulous…just like you!

  17. I am SO excited about this post. I have hollow core, flat doors everywhere in my house and I knew that I wanted to paint them (they’re currently a dark stained wood), but I didn’t know how to dress them up without making them look cheap. Thank you for blessing me with this post :)

    Also, we lived in Hampstead, NC for a while and loved visiting Topsail Beach. The last time we were able to go back for a visit was six years ago and we stayed in a condo on the beach. I miss that area and it brought a smile to my face to see it mentioned.

  18. Such a great idea! I am filing this one away for our upcoming move.

  19. My wife and I have been checking your site out and it is awesome! I love this project as it takes a very traditional cheap door and makes it looks far nicer.

  20. Miranda F. says:

    Awesome! My husband found your blog when searching “how to dress up a hollow core door”. I am so glad he came across this! thank you for sharing! This will save us a ton.

  21. I know I’m late to this post but I just can’t help but comment. We are looking at purchasing a foreclosure and only planning on living in it for about 3 years. It is a true fixer upper and this is my answer to the old hollow core doors! If this were your home would you recommend doing both sides and for resale purposes? I also want to update the molding in the house and hoping to go with more of a craftsman style. Would like kind of molding look ok with the beadboard door?

    Thank you so very much for the idea and instructions! I can’t wait to get started.

  22. Tasha Cordel says:

    Hey – amazing transformation. I had 2 Questions; read through the comments and the one I had about ‘nails’ into a hollow door was answered….but here is my next concern BEFORE I go ahead with this….

    WHAT paint/primer, etc do I use? How have your doors stood up? Paint chipping on the frame? I am most worried about going to all the work and then with the opening and closing….they look horrible (or the door frames do) in a month or so. ADVICE PLEASE and Thankyou!!

    • Tasha, our contractor ended up priming and painting all the doors for us. It hasn’t been a full year yet, but when I checked on them in August, they still looked great. Number one is to use a paintable caulk to seal all the seams. Caulk is flexible and will stand up to any swelling and contracting of the door. Regarding paint and primer. From experience I can tell you that you get what you pay for with paint and primer. Use a good primer like BIN or KILZ. Be sure to lightly sand the door after each coat and wipe off any dust. Paints that hold up REALLY well on doors, trim and cabinets are Benjamin Moore Advance and Sherwin Williams ProClassic. They are expensive, but again, you get what you pay for. Here’s a great post on painting doors for more information.

  23. Brittany,

    First let me say…AMAZING idea!! I feel the same way regarding replacing all our flat “natural” wood 1980’s doors. I cringe thinking they would go to the dump especially the heavier door leading to the garage. However they are hideous dated and clash with my brand new kitchen!! I would like your opinion if you were living in the property would you panel the interior side as well? I’m curious if you kept the popcorn ceilings Ha? Your opinion is appreciated!!

  24. Jan Brown says:

    Loved your post, we are buying a place at the lake. It is old and needs updated. I was wondering, if it would be easier to take the doors down. Just thought it would be easier to glue and paint them and the door jams.

  25. brennan utt says:

    Was it around $25 per side or for both sides.

  26. Hi Brittany!

    This is an amazing idea and I’m thinking of trying it this weekend to dress up my apartment front door as I can’t afford to replace it at the moment.

    I just had a couple of questions – when you were working out the measurements, was it 4″ from the top to the edge of the bead board or to the outer edge of the moulding? Also, do you remember how wide your moulding was?

    Going to go and explore all your other ideas now! :)

    • Nicola, it was 5″ in from the sides and top to measure for our panels. After you have the panels cut and installed, then measure for your trim. I think the trim was about 3/4″. But, I’m not 100% sure.

  27. Courtney says:

    Beautiful door!

    Any suggestion on how to re-create the look with a curved top panel? One that looks exactly like yours- except the piece at the very top is curved?


  28. Hi! I’m trying to add moulding to a flat door but I’m having trouble finding moulding that is small enough. What type did you use? I was just at Lowe’s and I didn’t have any luck. Thanks! The doors look great!!!

    • Sally, I’m sorry you are having a hard time finding the moulding we used. I don’t know the name of it, but you can use any moulding you like for your project. Just take pieces off the shelf and lay them out with beadboard to see how they’ll look.

  29. others have really said it all. just wanted to add my WOW to the conversation. lots of terrific ideas but the doors have to be the most bang for the buck. I am wondering how it would look with a wood stain look rather than paint. my hsb is usually in horror if I mention painting anything that starts out life looking like wood.


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