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How to Build DOOR TRIM-114 for About $60.00

how to build a victorian style door surroundVictorian Style

Finish Carpenter Price c. $600.00

This design is based on Victorian door surrounds I’ve seen all over the U.S. and Canada.

It’s a favorite pattern here on The Joy of Moldings, and now you can make it yourself using this page as your portal to all of the step by step installation and painting posts in this series.

I installed this door surround in a new farmhouse near the San Tan Mountains, Arizona.  I like to base my designs on moldings I find in historic homes near whatever project home I’m working on at the time, and quite often people are surprised that Arizona has a rich Victorian architectural heritage.

The Victorian architectural period was in full swing during the Arizona Territory population explosion.

People shipped complete house building kits out on the railroad and then assembled them in the hot, dusty, bustling desert towns.  So I thought Victorian farmhouse moldings would be a good fit for this desert ranch house.

Posts in This Series

1.  How to Build DOOR TRIM-114 for About $60.00

2.  PLINTH BLOCK-101: How to Make Step by Step

3.  PILASTER-103: How to Make Step by Step

4.  ENTABLATURE-100: How to Make Step by Step

5.  How Do I Make This Large Baseboard?

6.  How to Paint Moldings:  Steps to paint this door trim and this room are on this page.

Related Posts

Before & After: Victorian Farmhouse Trim

Before & After: Moldings for this Patio Double Door

Related Molding Patterns



painted diy mdf door trim front door

The same door trim but viewed from the living room.

Below  This is the exact same door surround pattern as the one above, but this one’s installed on a pocket door leading to the kitchen on the other side of the living room.

You might ask why I made the front door surround, which is supposed to be senior — and therefore more elaborate — the same pattern as the front door surround?

The answer is simple: the front door eventually received ornate woodworking appliques on the capitals — a nice pair of rectangular rosettes.  [See my post Architectural Subordination for more about senior and subordinate patterns.]

A Little Architectural Vocabulary

victorian painted door trim moldings


This portion of the door surround — from the top of the cornice down to bottom of the necking — is collectively called the entablature.

It is  sometimes referred to as the door header or overdoor, but since entablature is the post accurate term, that’s what I use on our blog.

Ornate Appliques  Even if you build this entablature exactly as shown, you could personalize the design by the unique combinations of ornate woodworking appliques you apply to the capitals and frieze.

door header trim moldings made from mdf and poplar

Entablature Capitals

The additional detail at either end of this entablature are called entablature capitals.  They are patterned after the top of a column, which is essentially what a full pilaster is.

Entablature capitals are the perfect place for ornate woodworking appliques.

piaster capital

This door surround I included a full capital on top of the recessed panel pilasters.

Recessed Pilaster and Plinth Block with Necking

Pilaster  This pilaster pattern has the extra detail of a recessed panel.  Pilasters can also be fluted or simple flat-stock.

Plinth Block  Necking at the top of plinth blocks was fairly common on Victorian style door surrounds.

victorian style plinth blocks for interior door

victorian door trim moldings

Before & After Pocket Door Trim Moldings

When you’ve decorated your home to perfection yet you still feel something is missing, then it’s probably moldings that you’re pining for.

diy door trim moldings for pocket door

pocket door mdf moldings

There, that’s what you needed all along!

Moldings make all the difference in a home.  They have the power to lift our spirits in a way that no other decorating item can.

They provide the solid, structural visual clues we need to make us feel like we are in a permanent, stable home — a refuge from the wearisome, disposable culture in which we live.  -Ken


Posts in This Series

1.  How to Build DOOR TRIM-114 for About $60.00

2.  PLINTH BLOCK-101: How to Make Step by Step

3.  PILASTER-103: How to Make Step by Step

4.  ENTABLATURE-100: How to Make Step by Step

5.  How Do I Make This Large Baseboard?

6.  How to Paint Moldings:  Steps to paint this door trim and this room are on this page.

8 Responses to How to Build DOOR TRIM-114 for About $60.00

  1. Brian October 17, 2012 at 9:17 PM #

    I have a question regarding the plinth blocks and pilasters. Unless I am mistaken, it looks like these are the exact same width and depth. Since that is the case, I am thinking it might be easier/quicker to simply build the plinth block height into the pilaster so they are essentially one piece, and then wrap them with the necking molding at the appropriate height. This could even be done with the capitals as well, but I can see not doing that just for the sake of being able to build the entire entablature on the bench and then attach it to the wall. Am I missing something and there is a good reason to build the plinth blocks separately, or is this just the routine you’ve established since the plinth blocks may not always be the same width/depth as the pilasters? Thanks in advance for your insight on this, and I am really enjoying your site!

  2. Brian October 17, 2012 at 9:33 PM #

    Another question while it’s on my mind. I am thinking about building a door trim very much like this for my front door. There is a transom window above this door, with about 6″ between the door and window. What would be a good way to treat this area? My initial thought is a piece of flat stock between the pilasters, but that seems like it might be too plain. I’m not sure if some sort of applique would be the way to go here or something else? Also, we have a coat closet on the wall adjacent to this door. Will it look strange to have a higher door trim on the front door that incorporates the transom window and a lower trim on the closet door? Thanks for your advice on these issues.

  3. Ken October 18, 2012 at 11:54 AM #

    Yes, you can build the plinth block into the pilaster as one unit.

    The only reason I didn’t do this is because I was designing on the fly, and for reasons I don’t remember now, thought it best to build them seperately.

    However, I always build my entablatures seperately.

    Glad you like our site, Brian. It’s really nice when readers like you can see a better way of doing something I’ve written about. It’s the kind of thing I greatly encourage!

  4. Ken October 18, 2012 at 11:59 AM #

    Brian, are you saying that after you build DOOR TRIM-114 there will be a 6″ gap between the top of the finished entablature and the bottom of the window? Or are you saying that there is 6″ between the top of the door jamb and the bottom of the window?

    As to your second question, the front door surround should almost always be larger and more detailed than the other doors in your entry. Learn more about adding molding variety here: Arcitectural Subordination.

  5. Brian October 18, 2012 at 12:18 PM #

    Ken, there is a roughly 6″ gap between the top of the door jamb and the bottom of the window. My plan was to have the entablature directly above the top of the window, so that’s why I am wondering what to do with that gap between the door and window.

    Also, regarding the two doors, I know the front door surround should be the most striking, but I’m just not sure if it will look odd since it will be much taller than the surround for the closet door which is directly adjacent (when the front door opens it covers the closet door, and vice-versa). I feel like they might need some kind of unifying detail. Would it look completely ridiculous to have essentially a double entablature, with the lower below the transom window matching that of the closet door, and then an upper above the window that maybe uses a larger crown or more detail?

    Thanks again for your help and advice!

  6. Ken October 18, 2012 at 3:14 PM #

    Brian, if you haven’t already, why don’t you shoot me a picture of your front door and email it to me. I promise I’ll get to it by this weekend. I’m still so far behind on emails after the hard drive crash that it’s still going to take me a few full days of replying to emails to get caught up. But I’ll get there.

  7. Brian February 24, 2013 at 5:48 AM #

    Ken, I’m incorporating this molding concept around my front door. (BTW I’m not the same Brian who submitted all the previous questions above.) In building a mock-up, I’ve found that if I use PM-004, which is only 1/4 inch thick, I have to use 1/4 inch MDF for the top layer of the pilaster. If I use half inch MDF, the PM-004 just looks too small. Is 1/4 inch MDF the right alternative?

  8. Ken February 24, 2013 at 3:10 PM #

    You could certainly use 1/4″ mdf for the pilaster face frame Brian. If you notice most inexpensive six-panel doors have virtually the same profile inside the panels, and that profile terminates at the surface of the door — just like yours would if you use 1/4″ mdf.

    I like to have a small step (or reveal) between the end of PM-004 and the pilaster surface, that’s why I used the material I did.

    Good luck!

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