Introduction: Front Entrance Makeover
Ever since I moved into my house 7 years ago I have wanted to update the front entrance. The door had been replaced, but it had these small "decorative" squares beside the door (see the picture with the wreath) and I felt that they really made it look dated.I don't know what to call these things beside my door, the best I could find online is that they would be called side lights if they had a window in them. But as they don't have a window, I don't think it applies. I am going to call the the side bits in this article. If you know what they are called I please let me know in the comments and I will be forever grateful!
I decided that now was the time and I got to work. Follow along and you can see how I did it.
Below are links to tools and materials I used in this article. It is either the exact tool/supply or something very close.
Supplies and Material:
Wood (I used reclaimed hardwood, but pretty much any type of wood will work)
Note: The links in this article are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Step 1: Design
As I mentioned earlier, this idea had been marinating in my brain for quite some time but I had never actually put anything down on paper. So I opened up my sketchbook and started to draw. I came up with 4 different designs but I was having trouble deciding which one I wanted to do. So I reached out to my friends on social media and had a poll on my Instagram. The chevrons had a small victory so I decided to take the next step and make a 3D model of it.
I first had to take all the measurements of my door and the surround. As all entrances are different, I won't bore you with the specific measurements of my door. I then made a rough design on my door and the side bits. I had a material in mind for this project (reclaimed hardwood flooring) and I made all of the pieces 1 7/8" wide and 1/2" thick.
Step 2: Removing Old Squares and Paint
The first thing I did was to pry off the old squares and then remove all the paint.
To pry off the squares I used a pry bar and brute force. It was pretty easy as they had not been glued down and were only held on with small nails.
To remove the paint I used a combination of a heat gun with a putty knife and my random orbit sander. The paint gummed up the sand paper pretty quickly so I tried to get the majority of the paint off with the heat gun.
As with all paint jobs, the prep work is the most important, so make sure you get everything nice and smooth.
I then applied a layer of primer and then a layer of paint. I added the paint at this step as it was very easy because everything was flat and you can never have too many layers of paint.
Step 3: Prepping the Reclaimed Wood
I rescued this old hardwood flooring from my friend's house. He was doing a major renovation and the contractors had put it all in the dumpster. Knowing that it was some decent red oak I took a trailer full of it home. Any free wood you get ends up not being completely free, instead of paying money you end up paying time. For me this meant doing the following steps which took the wood from trash to usable material.
I first hammered out all of the nails. Because my friends house was so old the nails actually ended up being hand cut, which was kind of cool and it made them much easier to pull out.
I then cut all of the tongues and grooves off of the hardwood using my table saw.
Lastly I used my thickness planner to remove both the finish and the indents that are on the back of hardwood flooring.
This left me with pieces that were 1 7/8" wide and 1/2" thick, in various lengths.
Step 4: Cutting the Chevrons Halves
My design called for a lot of pieces that were cut to the exact same dimensions with 45 degree cuts on both sides. In order to make this as easy as possible I knew I wanted to set up a stop block. Luckily I had my picture frame sled which has a build in stop block system. You can find how to make this table saw sled here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Ultra-Precise-Mit...
You don't need to use a sled like this to make these, you could easily use the cross cut miter gauge that comes with your table saw or a miter saw turned to 45 degrees. If you really wanted, you could cut everything using a handsaw, but I had this available so I used it.
I set the stop block on my sled to 8". This makes a chevron that is 12" wide, which is exactly what I needed.
The first step in each of these cuts is to cut a 45 on one side. Unlike the normal way you would cut for a picture frame, all of the 45 degree cuts are in the same direction. So I pushed the pointy end up against the miter block and cut a piece. I then cut another. And another... And I did this for quite some time. In the end I made 50+ pieces (of course it ended up being 4 pieces shy of the amount I needed, I guess my math was off somewhere)
Step 5: Cutting the Straight Pieces
Cutting the straight pieces is a bit more "straight-forward" than the chevrons. I took measurements of the different aspects of my front entrance and then cut pieces to the right length. I would measure and make a mark on the wood. I would then use my combination square to draw a line that was perfectly square so that I could use that to line up my cuts.
Along the way I would test fit the pieces to ensure that they fit properly, as seen in picture number 4.
Step 6: Adding Hole for Doorbell Wires
Part of my design ended up going exactly where the doorbell wires were located on my doorway. To accommodate these wires I first started by placing a board in the final location. I then marked on the board where the doorbell wires would be located.
I used a 1/4" drill bit to drill all the way through. I then used a 3/8" drill bit and drilled from the backside to create a recess for the wire. I only drilled halfway and I finished it off with a chisel to square off the hole.
Step 7: Priming
Sometimes it is easier to prime things before they are attached to the wall, which is why I decided to prime all the pieces before attaching them.
If I were to do this again, I would likely also add one coat of paint before attaching them too just to ensure all the edges got painted, especially on the straight pieces that go against the rock facade of my house.
Step 8: Attaching Straight Pieces
To attach the straight pieces it was pretty simple. I used PL premium and brad nails. PL premium is a polyurethane based construction adhesive that comes in tubes. I first started by putting the PL premium on the backside of the boards and then I would put them in their respective places. I used my brad nailer to hold them in place until the glue dried.
note: You do not need a giant sized utility blade to open your PL premium, but it does come in handy. You can get one here https://imakeny.com/products/diresta-razor-blade
Step 9: Modifying Pieces to Fit Against Rock Facade
Some of the pieces required modification because of the rock facade that I have on my house. I did this to ensure that the distance between the two vertical pieces was exactly 12", which is how wide the chevrons are.
I first put the board up against the rock and marked where it needed to be modified.
I then put a cove bit in my router table. I routed out along the edge where I had made marks. As you can see in picture three, I routed out almost the entire board, just leaving a small fraction of the piece on the face.
I repeated these steps for any part that was in contact with the rock facade.
Step 10: Attaching Chevrons
To attach the chevrons it was a bit more complicated than the straight pieces. The first row was easy, I put PL premium on the the backside and then lined each side up with the bottom board. I used my brad nailer to attach them to the wall.
I then worked my way up the wall. I used a scrap chevron piece to space out the layers. I only put a scrap piece on one side because if I put both sides in I would not be able to get them out after I nailed the pieces in place.
I continued this until I ran out of room on each side.
Step 11: Cutting and Attaching Partial Chevrons
For the top and bottom I needed to cut partial chevrons. I again used my miter sled, but as I said, any method to cut these would work.
It ended up working out to only needed to cut the very tip off for the top partial chevrons. So I lined up the cut on the miter sled and cut the 4 pieces. Luckily for me, I was able to use these small off-cuts on for the bottom partial chevrons.
I glued and nailed everything in place in the same way as the previous steps.
Step 12: Caulking
Caulking was a time consuming part of the build. Every edge, nook and cranny needed to be caulked. For the most part, I put the caulk on and then wiped it off using my finger. However, the corners where the chevron meets the vertical pieces is a very tight spot and my finger did not fit in there very well, so I had to make a caulk spreading tool to help with this.
I took a thin strip of wood and cut it at a 45 degree angle. I then rounded off the point on my sander. This allowed me to spread out the caulking perfectly.
If you want to see 10 other uses for thin strips, check out this instructables post https://www.instructables.com/id/10-Uses-for-Thin-...
Step 13: Painting
Painting pretty self explanatory. I had some exterior white paint left over from another project. I made sure to stir it really well and then covered the entire project with a fresh coat of paint. After it dried I put on another coat.
Step 14: Attaching New Doorbell Button
My old doorbell button looked pretty bad (sorry no pictures) It was rusty and had been painted by the previous owners. I decided with all this work my front door deserved a new doorbell button. I pre-drill some pilot holes, attached the wires to the back of the doorbell button and then screwed it in.
It was a pretty simple installation, the only thing to keep in mind is to try and get the pilot holes to be same distance from the edge so that the button will not look crooked. (p.s. don't look to close at my doorbell button)
Step 15: Admiring
Now the project is done and you I could sit back and admire my hard work. As this was something that had been on the to-do list for a very long time, it was really satisfying to get it done. Now I am very proud of my front entrance and think it is the nicest one on the block.
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If you are inspired by this project to re-do your own front entrance please share it here. I love seeing other people's completed projects. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask in the comments below.