Easy Craftsman Style Door Casings

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!


I’ve decided that it’s time to tackle our master bedroom/bathroom. They are the last two rooms in the house to be painted (well, except for closets, butttt…not happening) and I was tired of juggling all of the ideas in my head as I laid in bed each night. I knew that I was probably going to go white with the bedroom, but I wanted to go a little bolder in the attached bathroom with a dark blue paint that would tie into some of my bedroom accents. The big problem I had was that there was no real separation between the bedroom and bathroom. As you can see below, (ignore the sample trim I quickly nailed up and the ceiling that has only been cut in and the bathroom that has like 3 different paint samples going on and and and…) the entry to the bathroom doesn’t have a door and didn’t have any kind of trim to distinguish it. Therefore, if I painted each room a different color, I would have had to have an awkward straight line along one of the curved edges of the drywall. And, having many, many years of experience with being crazy, I knew that was not going to work for me. SO, I decided to do what felt right and trim out the doorway.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

Of course though, I couldn’t trim out the bathroom doorway and then just leave the main doorway with the tiny trim that is in the rest of the house. Nope. Had to trim out the entry too. Problem was, the entry to the bathroom was about 3 inches taller than the entry to the bedroom. I debated whether it would look less weird with the top of both casings (fancy word for door trim) the same distance from the ceiling, or for the tops of the casings to be the exact same, leaving the entry door casing about 3 inches lower from the ceiling as the bathroom entry. And probably none of this makes any sense unless you are as crazy as me, but as shown in yet another highly skillful SketchUp drawing below, I decided to have the casings be the same distance from the ceiling, and compensate with a wider board at the top of the entryway.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!
The first step was to remove all the existing trim from around the doorway. I use a flathead screwdriver and a hammer to pry it up. It’s fairly easy.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

You can see that it leaves you with a nice ugly gap around your actual door frame. But not to worry, it will all be covered up again with the new trim.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

I removed any nails that didn’t come out with the trim with my vice grips, and then scraped off any extra caulk that was left behind.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

I used 1x4s for the sides of the casings of both entries. Because they are a bit wider than the previous trim, I had to cut out a little bit of the baseboard next to the door so that it could sit nice and flush. I also had to remove and cut some of the baseboard from around the bathroom entry. In order to do this, I set my 1×4 next to the door where it would be installed, and marked the baseboards where they needed to be cut.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

Then, I used my handy new multi-tool with this straight saw attachment to gently but quickly cut and remove the little section of baseboard in my way without having to remove the whole board and drag it down to my table saw. Very handy. 

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

After removing the baseboard sections that were in my way, I placed my 1x4s, cut to size, and made sure they were level across the top. Then I nailed them in using my cordless brad nailer and 1.5 inch nails. I love this tool. I actually got it when I was installing laminate flooring downstairs last winter. I had bent several nails and smashed several of my fingers trying to nail in quarter round along the edge of my baseboards, when I finally threw in the towel and told my husband I was getting that freaking nailer. I actually had full intention of just returning it after I used it for my quarter round (#bad) but I loved it so much I convinced told my husband I was keeping it. And I have used it on almost every project since. True love.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

Anyways, after I got my edges nailed up it was time to tackle the top of the casings. The way I did it, and the way I’ve seen a lot of tutorials do it, is I used a 1.25 x .375 trim piece on top of my edge boards, nailed into the top of each of my 1×4 edge boards.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

Then, separately, I nail the the rest of the top portion of my casing to each other before nailing the whole top into the wall. The reason for this is because my nail gun won’t fit at an angle to nail the top two trim pieces downward into the wider board. The top section just consists of a 1×4 for the bathroom entry, and a 1×6 for the bedroom entry (to try to compensate for that 3inch difference I mentioned at the beginning). On top of these boards is another 1.25 x .375 trim strip and finally a bit larger 1.625 x .5 trim strip on top of that to cap it off. Some people don’t do the extra, wider strip on the very top but I think it makes it just a bit more traditional which fits the style of my house a bit more.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

You can see in the two pictures above that originally I used some plywood, cut to size, to fill the sides of the entry to the bathroom. The reason I needed to do this was because of those curved drywall corners. I was originally going to just fill the gaps between the plywood and my door casing and then sand it smooth, but after applying my first coat of spackle I realized that it just wasn’t going to work. My gaps were too big and the spackle was cracking and would have taken me forever to get smooth. So, instead of taking out those plywood boards and trying to get a more exact cut, I instead just cut some more plywood strips that were wide enough to overlap some of my new door casing.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

After all the nail holes were filled and spackle was dry, I gave everything a quick sanding to make sure it was smooth. Then it was time to caulk all the edges and seams. This is my least favorite part. It’s messy, it takes awhile, and there is always so much wasted caulk, at least when I do it. However, it is probably the most important step to having a smooth, professional looking finish.

After the caulk was dry it was finally time for paint! I started with a “primer” of leftover ceiling paint I had, and then gave it two coats of semi-gloss white paint from Valspar, straight out of the can. I love how it turned out. I think I made the right decision compensating for the height differences in the doors. It looks natural and doesn’t drive me crazy laying in bed at night. You can see that the bedroom has since been painted, but the bathroom is still a hot mess. It’s a work in progress.

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!
How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!

How I upgraded my builder-grade door casings to a craftsman style!