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How To Upgrade or Repurpose Your Hollow Core Doors

Updated on September 12, 2019
techygran profile image

Techygran enjoys sharing current information to help herself and others live fully creative and healthy, comfortable lives.

Be creative with that old hollow core door!
Be creative with that old hollow core door!

Home Decor and the Ugly Door

I really do enjoy our late-1970s home. It is a little frayed around the edges, and still sports plush carpet on the stairs and a couple of massive raw cedar "feature walls," but we are slowly working to update it just enough to be able to express who we are apart from fancy ceiling work and "bonus rooms" over the garage.

During the time our home was built there appears to have been a minimalist builder who pushed for hollow core wood slab doors throughout the house's interior. I guess they were meant to match the "pocket doors" that slide open to the kitchen from what was a formal dining room and from the foyer into the living room. There are twelve of these hollow core doors in our house. The monotony is broken only by a couple of cubby holes and a basement covered by rustic cedar doors: yes, very 1970's three-kids-and-a-dog.

So, I am on a mission to find out what we can do to upgrade those dull, grungy mahogany doors, something that saves us from dumping them and purchasing more expensive, more attractive doors.

Perhaps you are reading this article because you, too, want some notion of what to do with your flat, boring door. Fortunately, many people have had this idea before us and have posted their work on the Internet.

1. A Simple Elegant Door

Completing the new painted door face.
Completing the new painted door face. | Source

In this example, Thrifty Artsy Girl at the Home Talk site dislikes the 'slab' doors as much as I do. She selects two doors-- from a bathroom and bedroom-- to demonstrate, with excellent photos, the process that she used in this small sample.

  1. She painted the doors and the trim around the doors
  2. She shows the few tools that she used (example: miter box, pencil, ruler, glue, etc.)
  3. She provides great photographs to take you step-by-step through the process of transformation of a "hollow core bore" into a very chic and elegant door.

The Before and After Pictures

How the doors looked in the beginning of the project and at the end!
How the doors looked in the beginning of the project and at the end! | Source

2. Updating 70's Bi-Folding Closet Doors

Can you even tell that these were those dark wood hollow core closet doors in every 1970's rancher bedroom?
Can you even tell that these were those dark wood hollow core closet doors in every 1970's rancher bedroom? | Source

We do have these bi-fold closet doors as well, in a couple of places. You have seen them, even if you have never lived with them: dark brown varnished hollow doors.

While the dark slabbiness of the doors is not attractive, the fact that they are made from wood and not a plastic product is one reason for taking the time to do a bright, fresh upgrade. The other reason is that you can potentially save around $100 if you put in the hard work yourself. This project over at Apartment Therapy takes only about 4 to 6 hours to complete. (In my home it might take 4 to 6 months to complete, but it's all good).

The Apartment Therapy site lists the tools needed and the steps needed to complete this project from start to finish!


Upgrading Doors

Is this a project you plan to undertake in your home:

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3. Fitting Glass Panel into a Hollow Core Slab Door

Here is a glass-fitted door that lets light flow from a natural source of light into a dark hallway.
Here is a glass-fitted door that lets light flow from a natural source of light into a dark hallway. | Source

This project might be better-suited to someone who knows more about carpentry and glass-fitting than a beginner or even an "intermediate" project-doer. I am frankly amazed that a dull hollow core door could be transformed into this very smart-looking glass-fitted door.

"Dezine" does a photo tutorial, showing the steps that go into building this posh door. He used this one in a bathroom, with 3 coats of a frosted glass spray for privacy that also allowed light from the bathroom window to filter into the dark hallway. I can see this as being a door to a home office, or two inexpensive hollow core doors with glass inserts to form double French doors.

Repurposing Your Hollow Core Slab Door

If you don't feel like putting X number of hours into transforming an old slab door into something attractive and updated, you might want to donate those doors to one of the Habitat for Humanity "Restores" or you may want to repurpose the doors for something you will use, a blanket box, a piece of art, or anything that will prevent the door from ending up in our over-filled garbage allotments. Here is an idea:

A Simple, Sleek Desk

Click Source for the instructions to build this desk for the minimalist's bedroom
Click Source for the instructions to build this desk for the minimalist's bedroom | Source

Comments

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    • techygran profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      6 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Thank you for your insightful comments Flourish -- i also favour the door with the misted glass insert!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

      These are beautiful ideas. I really like that frosted glass version in particular.

    • techygran profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      6 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Linda! And because 1970s houses were not "open style" there are a lot of slab doors to deal with-- maybe a better plan is to renovate to create more openness (apart from bedrooms and bathrooms I mean).

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Our home was built in the 1970s, too. Thanks for sharing the ideas for updating and repurposing the doors. They sound great.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 

      6 months ago from South Florida

      My parents' old house was built in the '70s. I know exactly the kind of doors you are talking about. Some really good ideas here for giving them a new lease on life!

    • profile image

      Ed 

      6 months ago

      Excellent simple ideas on updating the look of an older house. Some paint, planning and measuring that may not be too complicating

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