How to Create Craftsman-Style Door Trim

7 Materials
2 Days

Add custom detail to your home with this Craftsman-style door trim project. This DIY Craftsman-style trim is one of my favorite details in our 1965 ranch. In this post, I'll run through our process and tips, but you can certainly install the trim in the order that works best for you. You'll find more details on this project in my original blog post.

Old Doors Before Craftsman-Style Door Trim Update

Here’s where we started, with original hollow doors and simple molding. Not a great photo, but you can get the idea.

Mock-Up Craftsman-Style Door Trim First

**All product sources are directly linked in my blog post.**

We installed Craftsman-style doors and with a long-term plan to add coordinating trim. One consideration is to make sure that you have enough space above the door, if you want to add taller trim on top. Here's what that looks like where you can see the amount of wall space above the rough openings.

When designing our trim, our first step was to head to Home Depot and buy a few pieces of trim in different sizes. Next, we held them up in different combinations above the doors to figure out what looks best. It’s always hard for me to visualize how things will actually look without seeing a mock up.

For the top, I like the look of moulding that’s slightly wider than the sides, but that’s all I really had in mind when we started this project. You can play around with the pieces to see what works best in your space.

Now, here’s the thing. The dimensions are all flexible. We started with 1×4 boards for the sides and top. The dimensions of the smaller pieces matter less, because it’s all about how they work together. I’ve posted a photo below with exact sizes we’re using, but honestly, it’s doesn’t matter. I just wanted a wider piece on the very top, so it would cover the 1×4, and a smaller “skinny” piece under the horizontal 1×4.

Here’s a side view of the trim pieces together.

Which is better? Wood or MDF?

Another option is the type of material for door trim. Through most of the house, we use MDF boards, because they are less expensive. We will use real wood for the trim in the bathroom, but otherwise, I can’t even tell much of a difference once it’s all painted. For the sake of efficiency, I painted stacks of MDF 1×4 before installation.

Beginner’s tip: it’s so much easier to paint trim before it’s installed! Especially if you have small children like we do… We just do touch ups afterward.

Create "Headers" Before Installing

This may not be industry standard, but I'm calling the combo of wood pieces that go above the door frame a "header." The easiest way to install this header is to create it on the ground, paint it, and then attach it to the wall.

Here is one example, which I painted outside in decent weather. Wyatt cut and assembled the headers with a nailgun and then I painted them. Our trim paint is Ultra Pure White semi-gloss by Behr.

Here’s what the casing looks like before that header piece is attached:

And here is the final product! Once the trim is installed, be sure to use wood filler in the nail holes, sand lightly, and then paint those spots to create seamless casing around the door.

I love how this looks with the Craftsman-style doors. The door trim is built to match on the inside and outside of each room, so it looks like this on both sides.

How to Adjust Trim for Hinges and Strike Plates

I received a great question from a reader about accommodating for hinges with this kind of trim. Our old trim tapered in toward the door frame, so there was space for the hinges and strike plate. With this trim, we’ve just installed the casing as close to the hinges as possible, but you can see that it is slightly offset from the doorframe. If the trim was flush with the frame, we would have to notch out the casing around the hinges, which would be odd. We ripped this piece of door casing in order to fit in the corner, and it will be caulked and painted along both sides (where it meets the door frame and wall).

On the other side, this is what the casing looks like where the door latches shut. Even with the casing offset a tiny bit, the latch does scrape the trim very slightly, but not enough to bother us. However, if you want to avoid this issue, it’s possible to buy extended strike plates instead of the ones that come with your door handle kit.

This is what the strike plate looks like. An extended strike plate like this would cover the trim and avoid the paint-scraping issue. Looks like we’ll need to replace those strike plates at some point, anyway!

Final Craftsman-style Door Trim with Painted Doors

Here is the end of our hallway with completed trim. I love how the casing runs together where the three doors meet.

Visit my website and original blog post for more details!

I ballparked the cost at $60 per door, but that includes full-length boards and fractional cost of paint... this is a project where you'll more likely invest in creating trim for multiple doors and so the cost varies.

Paint Info:

Trim is all painted Ultra Pure White semi-gloss by Behr

Walls are Silky White eggshell by Behr

Resources for this project:
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  2 questions
  • Michelle Stahl Ausdemore Michelle Stahl Ausdemore on Feb 26, 2021

    Love how this looks! Great Job! Also, I really love the rug shown in your hallway (last photo). Can you please let me know where you bought that? Thanks

  • Lisa Fauerbach Lisa Fauerbach on Feb 23, 2024

    Love, love, LOVE. Craftsmen is my favorite and you certainly did it justice! ♥️

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  • Teresa Teresa on Feb 22, 2024

    I realize this is from several years ago, but…

    Does anyone know what I can use to smooth out a builder grade hollow core door that has fake woodgrain? I want to have a smooth door and then attach molding.

  • List in Progress - Erin List in Progress - Erin on Feb 23, 2024

    Hi Theresa, I would try spreading a product like Bondo over the door to level out the texture. It's very smelly, so work outside, but it's the most durable product for a long-term change. A less caustic option would be a wood putty.