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Installing Decorative Door Headers

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HI0506_1636A
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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 193 Projects

Adding a decorative head casing to a door is a simple way to dress up your existing trim. Although head treatments are more common over doors, this project will work for window trim as well. Designing your own decorative molding can be creative and fun, but try not to overwhelm the room with an elaborate piece, as it may detract from the décor.

Standard stock door casings have an outer-edge thickness of approximately 11⁄16". Build your custom header around this thickness. Use it to create a reveal line to a thinner piece of trim, or build out from the edge for a bolder, more substantial appearance. In the project shown, a bed molding or a smaller piece of crown molding is used to build the header away from the wall. The ends of the molding are returned to the wall, and the entire piece is capped with a piece of lattice molding.

Installing a decorative header of this style on an interior door may require the installation of additional blocking. For installation over an exterior door or a window, nail the pieces in place directly to the load-bearing framing in the wall above the opening.

How to Install a Decorative Door Header

  1. HI0506_136B

    Measure the width of your door casing and rough-cut a piece of bed or crown molding 6" longer. Use the casing width dimension to lay out cut marks on the bottom edge of the molding. Start the marks 2" from the end to allow space for cutting the mitered ends.

  2. HI0506_137A

    With the molding upside down and against the fence, cut a 45° outside corner miter angle at each end on the casing reference marks from step 1.

  3. HI0506_137B

    Cut mitered returns for the molding using the leftover piece. Set the angle of the power miter saw to the opposing 45° angle and cut the returns with the molding upside down and against the fence. Dry-fit the pieces,  recutting them if necessary. Apply glue to the return pieces and nail them to the ends of the head molding with 1" brad nails.

  4. HI0506_137C

    Nail the new header in place with 2 1⁄2" finish nails driven at an angle through the bed molding and into the framing members of the wall.

  5. HI0506_137D

    Cut lattice molding 1" longer than the length of the bed molding and nail it in place with 5⁄8" brad nails so that it has a uniform overhang of 1⁄2". Fill all nail holes with spackle and sand them with fine-grit sandpaper. Apply the fi nal coat of finish.

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