How to paint and hang a louvered door

Disclaimer #1: This is a fairly detailed post on spray painting a door and routing it with a chisel. When I first started thinking about changing out our old doors, I looked all over the internet for posts for women by women on how to route and mount a door. There’s a ton of great info out there, but I didn’t see many people like me (people who aren’t skilled handywomen) trying it. That’s probably changed by now, or maybe I just didn’t dig deep enough. But if not, this is the kind of post I was searching for. For other women out there wondering if they can learn to route a door hinge with a chisel, read on, and learn that you can.

Disclaimer #2: This is the first project I did that requires skill and strength entirely on my own while my husband was traveling. He’s our go-to guy when something needs to be chiseled around here, but this time the second string stepped up. And you can too. Hanging a door can be a one woman job if you need it to be.

Our door and trim project is in it’s final stage. Read about the first stage here. We’ve replaced all of the oak trim in the downstairs, and we’ve painted the door jambs. We learned what not to do when we trimmed out the upstairs. There, we started by hanging the doors, then we painted them, then installed trim, then painted the jambs last. I knew there had to be a better way.

And I think I found it. When we began to work on the downstairs, we started with the trim and jambs. I used a paint and primer combo paint, which sped everything along, especially on those dark, oak jambs. Now that the trim is up and finished, I’ll paint the doors while they’re still slabs, then I’ll route and hang them. It’s going much better. Here is a picture of what it looked like last fall.

oak louvered door and trim -- House Over Head blog

And here is a picture with the old door and the new trim.

white trim with wood door -- House Over Head blog

But this post is about the louvered door we needed on our laundry/utility room. If you remember, I waited to buy the paneled doors until they went on sale for $20 each. But this room needs a louvered door for ventilation. I looked for a way around it. I even called regional building to ask if I could just cut a vent in the wall. But they told me the room needed a vented door. The difference in cost between the paneled doors and the louvered doors was significant. They’re not cheap. Home Depot charges $167 for a pine louvered door slab. After the bargain I got on the other doors, I was balking at the price.

So I began to stalk Craigslist for one. I started looking last summer, and I just this month found one in our area that’s the size we need. Bonus! It was routed on the left side to allow the door to swing in. And we got it for $50.

unpainted pine louvered door -- House Over Head blog

It needed to be primed and painted, but first I had to mark where I needed my hinges to be. Of course they weren’t in the same place on the same side. You can’t get that lucky.

measuring for door hinges -- House Over Head blog

So I removed the hardware from the old door so I could lay the new door on top of it. Then I marked where the new hinges needed to go. The picture above shows where I marked it. I was thrilled to see that the old hinges were only inches off from where the new hinges needed to go. I decided to try to route it with a chisel instead of an electric router. Mostly because I don’t own an electric router.

But first I had to prime and paint the door. I decided to spray it, because I didn’t want to deal with painting all those slats. But spraying it wasn’t as fast as I hoped. This was partly because our warmest days, the best days for spray painting, had incredible wind gusts. So, even though I was spraying in the garage, I had to be careful to choose warm winter days without strong wind. That’s a tall order for Colorado.

Once I got started, it took two to three coats of paint per side. And there was a lot of sanding between coats. And wiping down the door. I was surprised how much spray from the paint traveled through the slats to splat on the other side of the door. So I sprayed, waited for it to dry, sanded, wiped it down. And then did it again. And again. And again. It took three times the patience than the skill, but I eventually got there.

I used a pure white spray paint, again from Rust-Oleum, on the door. It took two cans of primer and two cans of paint. The white is a little off from the trim, and from what the rest of the doors will be, but the difference is miniscule. It won’t be noticeable to anyone else but me.

Spray painting louvered door -- House Over Head blog

Next, it was time to route the hinges. I traced the line of the hinge with a utility knife. I think the key to good chiseling is to dig into this line in as deep as you can with the knife. It’s easy to go with the grain of the wood, harder to go across, and really hard when carving a curve. So again, patience wins over skill. Going slow gets you there.

When your carved line is deep enough, get out your chisel. Make sure you stay shallow with your chisel. Keep it almost parallel to the edge of the door, and gently tap it with the hammer. With soft pine, I was surprised how easily it gives. It was easier on this door than it was with the paneled doors we’ve bought. Here’s a shot of the tools you’ll need.

tools for routing a door hinge -- house over head blog

Getting the top hinge to line up was easy. The one on the bottom was trickier. I ended up screwing the whole connected hinge into the jamb while the door was mounted at the top. I propped the door up with a hammer handle and my shearling boot. They are what was in reach. But it allowed me to align the hinge just right with the door.

routed door hinge -- house over head blog

I did the middle hinge last, and I did it the same way. I connected the hinge, screwed it into the jamb, and then screwed it into the door. Because it’s a pine door and such soft wood, I was able to screw directly into the door in most cases without pre-drilling. I eventually got out the drill though, and it went faster, and saved my hands from more calluses. After it was hung, I caulked the holes from the old hinges so they’re a lot less noticeable now.

door needing hinge -- house over head blog

Here’s what it looks like now. I had to sand the top a little bit with a sander where it rubbed the jamb, but no planing was necessary. The click the door makes when it closes is a super satisfying sound that no one will notice but me. But I love it.

spray painted louvered door

I’m sure I didn’t answer all of your door related questions, so leave me questions in the comments if you have them. I’ll do my best to answer them. Thanks for reading!

Also check out:

We bought a dozen doors








New white trim is in!

Replacing old oak trim with white