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The Ultimate Guide to Building a Secret Closet Door

Paint color: Iron Ore Sherwin Williams

Museum Gel linked here!

Have you ever had a project you wanted to do, but you were intimidated by it? You did not know where to start, what to do, how to do it, or even if it was possible? Well that was me with this Secret Closet Door. While I was building the inside of the closet, I thought it would be so fun to add a secret door to access the closet. When I looked up buying one, I found that the kits to build them, were thousands of dollars. So in true Stephanie fashion, I thought, “I could just build one for so much cheaper!” While, yes it will be cheaper, I was so intimidated by it. I had never built anything like this, and I had no idea where to start… so I just started and it all worked out! Let me show you what I did!

Step 1: Remove the existing door frame and patch it.

I wanted to try to use the existing door frame, instead of having to buy a new one. This required me to carefully remove the door and trim. I used spackle to fill in all the holes and imperfections. It worked, but Bondo would have been better. You can use either.

Once that was all dry, I sanded it all down. Make sure it feels smooth to the touch. Any imperfections you can feel will be magnified when you paint it. You may need to do a few coats of mud and sanding, but its worth it. Do not rush this step.

Step 2: Determine the secret closet door dimensions.

You need to determine how big your door should be in order to clear the door frame on all sides. To do that I took a piece of wood that I was going to use and put it on the floor. I then moved it in the open and closed position to ensure that it did not hit the wall on any side.

I then cut the top and bottom pieces the same size.

Step 3: Fill the gap on the top of the door frame.

Typically doors have a gap around them. This allows for movement when installing them. You will need to fill that gap on the top, because your hinge will need something to secure to, and if there is a gap, it will not be very secure. So I just used some scrap wood and filled in the gap.

I secured it with screws, and ensured it was level.

Step 4: Time for secret closet door hinges!

Ill be honest, this step was tricky! I wanted the hinges to sit flush on the top of the door frame, so I used my multi tool and chisel to remove part of the door frame to allow the hinge to sit perfectly inside the frame. This was complicated, time consuming and difficult, but I did it, and it worked!

I installed the hinge directly on the top and bottom boards in line with where the other half was, and where the door needed to go/open.

Step 5: Assemble the door.

You should already have the top and bottom pieces of the door. Now its time to measure and cut the sides. Determine what size you need them and cut them to be the same. I used pocket holes, but you could absolutely do without them and screw through the sides of one piece into the other. Here you are basically making a frame.

Once you have your frame, attach it to the hinges. Keep in mind, you may need to re adjust a few times. You may need to recut it if the measurements are not right. Thats ok, we have never done this before. Just keep going, you will get it!

When you get it on the hinges, test it out and make sure it opens and closes correctly! Its so cool!!!

Step 6: Add the back

I chose to use ship lap for the back. I thought it would add a fun touch, plus I already had some in my garage!

The ship lap needs something to attach to, the frame would have been fine, but I did not think it was going to be big enough. So I added a piece of trim to the top and bottom to give the ship lap something to be attached to.

Then, just start attaching your ship lap like normal, only securing it to the top and bottom and the 2 sides.

Step 7: Shelves

Measure and cut your shelves to size. I installed these with pocket holes too. Determine where you want your shelves and makes sure they are level as you secure them. Repeat until all your shelves are installed.

Step 8: Trim

I was able to reuse the trim that was already on the wall, I just moved it in a bit. I attached the top and side the hinge was on to the wall, and I attached the side that opens to the door. This not only acts as trim to make the door/seams invisible, but it gives you something to hold on to, to open the door.

Step 9: Finish work

Time to do all the tedious work. Put the baseboard back on, caulk, wood fill, sand, and prep it for primer. I say this every time, but its so important to not skip this step. It can be so easy to not do it, but it really takes the project to the next level. So take the time and just do it. Make sure everything is smooth.

Step 10: PRIME AND PAINT your Secret Closet Door!

You did it! You made it to the last step. Its time to prime the wood. Remember, if you are ever painting raw wood it is so important that you use a primer before painting it. Not a paint+primer, but a primer. THIS one is my favorite. I recommend priming it once, then sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper. You can then either repeat that (primer and sand one more time) or you can paint it. Either way, be sure to prime it!

I then finished it up with some paint! I decided to paint the back (since it was inside the closet) and the shelf/door. I did not paint the trim, I left it white. My boys LOVE how it turned out and think it is so cool that they now have a secret door to their closet!

This project definitely challenged me, but it is so fun to figure out new projects and new things. I love the way it turned out and now it is time to start on their loft beds! Stay tuned to see how that project turns out. You can follow along in real time over on my Instagram HERE.

Products used for the Secret Closet Door

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