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How to Update a Flat Panel Hollow Core Door

Ask This Old House carpenter Nathan Gilbert upgrades a standard, flat panel hollow core door to look more modern


  1. Start by taking the door off of the hinges.
  2. Remove all the hardware from the door using a screwdriver or a drill.
  3. Mark the layout for the door. In general, Nathan likes to start with a 4” rail on the top, center the middle rail around the doorknob, and leave any excess on the bottom.
  4. Cut all the trim to size and miter the edges.
  5. Apply wood glue to the cut the trim and also along the edges of the layout on the door. Glue the trim to the door and secure it in place with the brad nails.
  6. Fill in all the nail holes with wood putty and caulk around the edges of the trim.
  7. Paint the door to the desired sheen and color.
  8. Install the new hardware to the door and hang it back up.

Updating a hollow core door can save time when trying to hang a completely new door. It can also save some money compared to buying a new door.

To add the fake panels, Nathan used some molding, which can be found at any home center. He secured those to the door using Gorilla wood glue and a 20V Max Cordless Bradnailer, which is manufactured by Dewalt. Nathan then painted the door using Behr Marquee in Ultra Pure White. He also replaced the old brass hardware with a bedroom/bathroom door knob, which is manufactured by Kwikset.