How to Add a Fancy Modern Cornice Above Your Door

Thursday, September 21, 2017 -
diy replace fancy header cornice trim moulding molding door casing

*This post is sponsored by DAP Products and The Home Depot. I have been compensated for my time and provided with product or payment in exchange. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. 

Judging by Facebook and Instagram, you guys seem to love my new black doors as much as I do. Thank you! If you missed the reveal earlier this week, make sure to check it out. The black paint is dramatic and definitely eye catching, but I think the upgraded casing and cornice are even prettier in person. It was much easier to get this look than you might think! Today I'm sharing how you make your door trim a whole lot fancier. 

Materials List: (standard 3' x 6'-8" door)

I'm assuming most of you have door casing already. If not, you don't have to worry about your current baseboard. If you're like me and you're updating old trim, you'll need to modify the baseboards first.

Instead of removing the entire piece and risk damage to the wall, I prefer to cut the baseboard in place. I measured the width of my 1 x 4 vertical casing and took into account the "reveal" (the space you set the trim back and allow the door jam to show). I then used a speed square to mark a line on the baseboard, designating where to cut. 

Then, I used a occilating multi-tool to cut along the line. 

Since the piece to be removed was quite small, I used a chisel instead of a pry-bar to work it out of the way.

Before I could remove the old casing, I cut the caulk covering the seam, using a sharp utility knife. 

I pried off the old casing and had a blank slate to add new trim. I measured the height from the floor to the bottom side of the top plate on the door jam, then added 1/4" to create a reveal.

I've done quite a bit of trim work before, always with my pneumatic gun and compressor. I finally upgraded to a cordless nailer and I'll never go back! I'm in love with the DeWalt 20-Volt Max 18-Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer. I was a little worried that it might not have enough power, but I was absolutely wrong! It had more than enough power to drive 2" brads without trouble. In fact, I was really grateful for the depth adjustment dial, so I could sink the brads perfectly, just below the surface.

I was able to attach the vertical casing on both sides of the opening in a matter of seconds.

Next, I started building up the fancy part- the cornice. I made a little diagram below of the pieces I used.

On top of the casing came the 1 x 2 "necking", placed horizontally. I measured the width from the outsides of the casing and added 3/4" on each end.

Since 2" brads aren't long enough to adequately secure a 1-1/2" thick piece to the wall, I used the DeWalt nailer to drive brads downward, into the casing.

After the "necking" came the 1 x 6 "frieze board", placed vertically, the same width as the vertical casing. Once the frieze board was in place, I added the 1 x 3 top plate and secured it by driving brads downwards.

The next step is what made the cornice fancy and finished looking - the crown moulding. Small trim is pretty delicate and can be blown apart with an 18-guage gun, so I switched to my Makita 18-Volt 23-Gauge Cordless Pin Nailer. Yep, no air compressor needed.

For me, the key to tight miter corners is applying a quick drying glue, to the joint. Small pieces can be especially tricky. I apply a little glue to each side of the joint and hold the pieces together before nailing them.

The little piece that goes on the sides is called a "return".

The Makita Pin Nailer was perfect for this this job. I was able to fire the smaller gauge fasteners into the delicate trim without a blow-out and the double trigger helped to prevent accidental firing- a really important feature when your fingers are close to the business end. I couldn't believe how light the nailer is! It weighs about the same as a cordless drill. Between the light weight and the long battery life, I was tempted to start driving pins into everything in the house.

Next, I filled all the nail holes and caulked the seams. The last step was to brush on two coats of paint and allow it to dry. I hung my new interior doors, stood back, and fell in love. 

Although my doors are standard height, adding the cornice above really makes them seem taller!

It's amazing how impressive a little trim and paint can be. The whole casing and cornice only took me about 30 minutes to install but seriously beefs up the "wow factor" in my little tract house.

Here is a little sneak peak of  my new doors, complete with trim and hardware. Click here to see the full reveal.

Now with my doors done, its time to tackle the windows. What do you think? Ready to put your own fancy moulding around your doors? Pin the image below to save the idea for later!

How to upgrade moulding by adding a modern cornice above your door

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1 comment

  1. Wow! What a change, looks fantastic! Love your blog, very helpful and informative.


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