I typically pick my next DIY project based on what is annoying me most about the house. I redid our sliding glass door trim because I hated seeing it every time I sat down to dinner. I couldn't stand the water main shutoff valve in the middle of the family room wall any longer, so I came up with a way to hide it. I seem to hit a breaking point where I just have to fix it or I'll go insane!
The door to the basement stairs has been screaming at me to be finished for ages. The builder of my house must have lost his carpenter's square (or was drunk) the day he framed out this door. It's over half an inch out of square from top to bottom, and never had any trim to cover up the less than stellar drywall job.
There's not a lot of room to work with here, with just half an inch between the door frame and the edge of the step. I needed a flat, solid wood trim, so I could cut off the excess and still have a nice edge. I ended up ordering this trim, which is just under ½" thick, and as wide as the widest part of the door frame. I also picked up some shoe moulding to install above the door, where there's only an inch between the top of the door and the sloped ceiling.
I started at the top, where I discovered that the drywall mud had been spread so unevenly, I couldn't get the trim to lay flat against the wall. In a less than brilliant move, I chiseled out the corner, leaving an even bigger mess.
Nothing a little trim and caulk can't fix, right? The shoe moulding fit perfectly in that weird angled space, and partially covered up the hole.
I then measured the length of the door from the bottom of the shoe moulding to the top step, and cut the door trim to fit. I beveled the top edge so that it fit nicely against the angle of the shoe moulding.
At this point, the upright trim isn't nailed in place yet. The top of the door frame is narrower than the bottom, so it needed to be cut down. I clamped the trim in place and made a pencil line on the back.
I cut off the excess with the jigsaw, tapering it out to full width at the bottom. The cut edge was then sanded smooth, and the trim nailed in place.
I used what seemed like a ridiculous amount of caulk to fill in all the gaps and holes. I probably should have used something to back the bigger holes, because it felt like I was trying to fill a bottomless pit! After the caulk dried, I painted the trim, walls and ceiling with Benjamin Moore's Decorators White. Having the entire staircase the same bright white color really helped make it feel bigger, and lets the less-than-square door frame blend into the walls.
I have to admit that the top of the door trim didn't come out perfect, but it's so much better than it was before, so I'm leaving it as is. And really, no one will notice the imperfections but me.
I have one last project in this stairway to share with you next week. With the holidays approaching, it's getting harder to find the time to get everything done. So many ideas, so little time!
Want more DIY projects?
Subscribe to get project ideas, home improvement tips, woodworking plans and more delivered straight to your inbox!