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Black is the New White (Updating Hollow Core Doors)

When we were looking for a house, time and time again each house proudly boasted the originial hollow core doors from the 50′s. And time and time again, I knew they would have to be replaced if we bought the house. So when we actually found our house, it was no surprise that it was filled with hollow core doors. But not just hollow core doors…doors that just didn’t work. Many of them wouldn’t close or get jammed. So it has been on the “to do” list to replace them since day one.

Well, day one came and we eagerly went out and purchased a solid, 6-panel wood door for Oliver’s room. I was so happy. I couldn’t wait to get rid of the cheap door. And then installing it happened…whomp, whomp. My dad was so amazing and took it on himself. But I had no idea how frustrating hanging a new door could be. When it was installed, I knew that we would need to take a break and re-evaluate.

We fixed the few doors that weren’t working and lived with them for a while. Then I started thinking…is it worth the headache (not to mention the cost) to replace all the doors with solid doors? Then I saw a few ideas on Pinterest that had me thinking…I ran to the hardware store, bought myself some moulding and paint. Before I knew it, I was experimenting with updating the existing doors (I didn’t even tell my husband) and I fell hard for how it transformed the door. Here’s the how-to on how I did it (don’t worry, I’ll get to the COLOR soon).

This is the door to our guestroom which faces the living room…this was one of the doors that didn’t close when we purchased the house. My dad and husband cut it down but it got some wear as a result. So it was the best door to experiment with!

I bought three 8′-0″ sections of trim at Home Depot. I measured my six-panel door for the overall measurements and used these dimensions to cut two large rectangles. I used a miter saw to cut each section (my first project with a miter saw and yeah, I’m addicted). Once everything was cut, I lightly sanded everything and started marking where it should hang.

I took Liquid Nails and covered the back of each trim section with it (smoothing everything down with a putty knife so excess goo wouldn’t seep out when I hung it).

I placed the first section of trim on the door where I marked it and made sure everything was level.

I continued with the remaining three sections the same way. Once everything was up, I taped it with painter’s tape so the trim wouldn’t shift around when it was drying.

I did the same with the bottom rectangle. I let it dry for 24 hours and lightly sanded any area where glue had seeped out. I also lightly caulked (with paintable caulk) any corner or section that had a small gap.

Then….the color! Now, I could have easily painted it white and it would have looked great! But I had seen some interiors with black doors floating around the blogosphere (like this and this)¬†and loved the look. It completely changes the feel and felt so classic to me. I also knew that many of the rooms that we would be painting would be light in color and I feared that the white doors would be washed out against the wall color. Plus, it was different and I loved that!! So painting away I went…(again, I didn’t tell my husband so imagine his shock when he came around the corner…).

Before I painted it black, I primed the door and then painted three coats of black (Benjamin Moore Graphite, which is actually a really dark grey). It definitely takes a while to paint each side, I’m not going to lie. But once it was done, I was hooked! I loved the contrast and it feels so classic to me.

Here’s the closet door in our guestroom (sneak peek at the finished wall color!). I love it so much.

Black interior doors aren’t for everyone…would you try it in your home? I have two doors down and seven more to go! It’s going to take a long time but it’s so worth it (and all the pennies we’ll be saving!).

Muah, Meg


  • Beautiful. Love the color on the wall of the guest bedroom.

  • These are awesome! Would you mind sharing what were the measurements for the trim were, after being mitered?

  • Just what I need for the flat, icky brown door to my bedroom! Thanks :)

  • Great Looking Doors!! Love this idea!!


  • Nicely done! I guess I don’t get why black doors are polarizing – they look so rich.

  • Hi, love the color of your door,,is it flat, semi gloss, egg shell?? Thank you! Looks amazing! Tina

  • I love the pillow next to the black door! Would you mind telling me where it’s from?

  • Would love to do the exact same with our doors (though will probably go for a oiled bronze color rather than black), but could you share the dimensions of the final pieces after they were cut? Know mine not be the same, but would be helpful as a good place to start. Thanks!

    • Hi Jenn!

      The measurements are 4″ from the edge of the door to the molding along the sides and top. It’s 8″ from the bottom of the door to the molding. Then, I measured up and down 3.5″ from the center of the handle to create a 7″ overall gap from the top rectangle to the bottom rectangle. These are the most important overall measurements…the actual measurements of the rectangles are dependent on the size of your door.

      I hope this helps and isn’t too confusing!! Meg

  • I’m getting ready to paint our exterior accent color on our home Graphite. Love the color, thanks for sharing. I know it will look different outdoors, but I love how it looks on your doors. xo

  • What type of moulding did you use? I just looked at Lowe’s and didn’t see anything that I liked but I like what you used! How wide is it? Thanks!

  • Did you put any kind of protective coating on after the paint? If not, how are the doors holding up to scratches, etc.

    • Hi Jill! The doors are holding up really well…I didn’t use a protective coat. Just four coats of paint (1 primer + 3 coats of black paint in a semi-gloss finish). The only chips I have seen are from where the doors rub the door jamb which happens in our house because it’s older and the door openings are not plumb anymore. Otherwise, even with our active house with pets and a toddler, they look like the day I finished them!

  • Saw your post in apartment therapy!

    A few questions:

    How did you get the doors to close again? I’ve tried shaving off the top and bottom but it’s just not enough. Tips?

    How much paint is 3 coats for each side?

    Beautiful. Considering for our mid-century hollow core doors as I priced out replacements.

  • Looks AWESOME!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing. Made a huge difference for a little investment!!! I’ve got some doors that could use this same treatment! Will have to give it a try.

  • I just came across your post linked too on Jenna Sue. I have plans to add trim just like this too all of our doors. I bought molding to practice on the door leading to the garage since it’s hollow core and should really be replaced for fire safety I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. When we moved into our house last year we went out and bought all new wood 6 panel doors then we watched a few how to videos and promptly returned them haha

  • H! Your door looks beautiful! Do you remember how many trim pieces you had to use per side for each door?

  • ??Did you do this to both sides of the door or just the outer portion everyone would see??

  • ??Did you do this to both sides of the door or just the outer portion everyone would see??

  • Very pretty. I’ve been wanting to do this to our hollow core doors . I want black, but still undecided. It never hurts to do one, though and live with it for a bit! Did you take the door down to paint it? Did you put the trim and same paint color on the inside? :) thanks for giving me a nudge to get it done.

  • I never reply on here but I have been looking everywhere to change my own doors out without replacing and you have given me great inspiration. Your doors look amazing with your contrasting color. We are going soft grey, white and black with red accessories. Thank you so much for your post :)

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