HOW to Add a Window Into a Door and WHY You Should Do It!

Adele Kurtz
by Adele Kurtz
12 Materials
2 Days
It's a dreary walk up the narrow stairs staring at a plain metal door.
I brushed a copper red tone over the manufacturer's standard white.
That was better.

I added intriguing art from my studio on the walls.

But a stairwell is NOT a lingering space.
Something still was missing.
I wanted to see light at the end of the tunnel.

I had seen expensive gorgeous doors with frosted or stained glass insets.
I wanted one, but they seemed "too much" in several ways.

Our home is a personal one, highly creative, country understated.
I would need to wait until I found the answer.

Years later I was at an antique shop, admiring stained-glass panels that had been ripped out of old buildings.
The shopkeeper commented about how they could be used.
"They look so lovely propped against a window!" she suggested.
"Or inset into a door," I said.

I was holding an authentic leaded glass piece, 14" square.
Wheels spinning, happily I turned it to its side, like a diamond.
I bought it for a bargain price.
And took it home.

Here's what we did after that:

Take the door off hinges.
Position the window where you want it to go.
Measure to confirm distances.
I chose to go even top to side = peak-a-boo height for 5'10".
Trace the window exactly.
Drill the CORNERS.
Cut Carefully! One side at a time.
Since this is a metal door, sparks FLY!
I admit I was too timid to do this myself, so I offered to take the pictures.
Flip it to the BACK SIDE.
As the photographer/observer, I came up with the ingenious idea of cutting the backside one-half inch NARROWER than the front, all around, so that the window had some support for frame.
"But then the two sides would be different!"
So what!
Draw cut lines. Cut metal on back.
Trim the foam that is between the metal using a kitchen knife.
Pop it all out!
Re-install door in place and grin.
Measure distance you need to fill cut-out.
Window measure one inch thick. Door is two inches.
Need two one-half inch frames top and bottom.
I made these from 1/2 inch x 3/4 inch pine.

I wanted the step down effect from the inside, which is why I wanted it 1/4 inch shorter than the original window frame.

Hand-cut on miter box with backsaw.

Glue new frames to window frame on BOTH sides.
For a professional look, fill corners with Plastic Wood or wood filler.
Sand for smooth finish.
Since I wanted the new to blend into old, I made sure to round edges with the sander too.
Stain wood.
Oak was too yellow to match old finish.
So I blended old mahogany I had laying around.
I let it all dry overnight.
Then carefully hammer window frame in place (cushion with hubby's cotton jacket). Tight fit -- perfect!
After window in place, measure and cut trim moulding to fit.
I used one inch oak.
I used construction adhesive to adhere metal to wood.
Tape until dry
Then stain as before.

For the back side of the door, we overlapped the metal edge with the one-inch oak trim.

This is the pretty treat you get now when you reach the top of the stairs.

I posted about a spotlight I re-invented to set off this door from the hall.
It was quite important that it sparkle most when you reach the top...
and it does.

It all came together to look as though it was always meant to be.
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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 18 questions
  • Maureen Maureen on Feb 19, 2019

    is this a door from the garage into the house? Be careful not to do this on a fire rated door, such as the door from the garage into the house. This type of door is a safety feature intended to slow a fire from entering the house. You will damage the door’s function by cutting into it.

  • Elaina Abandola Bradford Elaina Abandola Bradford on Feb 27, 2019

    I absolutely love what you did to this store I’m trying to see how I can copy the link but there was no way to do that can you send me something where I can follow your ideas because I’d like to copy this link if I can

  • Carol Cole Carol Cole on May 06, 2019

    The one flower looked like it was a hole instead of a flower. Can you tell me about that or was it my imagination?

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2 of 111 comments
  • Andrea Andrea on Apr 03, 2021

    This is exactly what we’ve been looking for!! We need a metal door to go from our screened in porch to the backyard but want some light to come through. This is the perfect idea. Didn’t know it could be done. Thanks

  • Marina Marina on Nov 01, 2021

    Wow, this is really great. I could never have done it. I don't know how to work with instruments, it was always difficult for me. I'm glad you did it.