A while back I had this great idea of building a new door for Halloween. All I would have to do is pull the pins on our existing front door and replace it with the Halloween Door. I still think that it is a great idea. The main problem is that I am the only one that thought it was great. My wife told me that I would end up banging up her front door moving it around and that the Halloween door would be too heavy to store well.
Okay, I see her point and had to agree, but it was still a good idea. So I had to keep thinking and this is what I came up with. I would velcro a light weight door to the existing one. This is that project. I love it and it has become one of the funnest projects I’ve done and the most commented on since it is our front door and very visible to everyone.
I need to make a warning at this point. This project is going to be for those who are familiar with doing craft projects and realize that they will have to change some things and do them their way as every door is different and so I can’t give measurements or deal with different door styles, etc.. However, I can show you how I did it for my door and it will give you what you need to know to design your own great Halloween door. So Let’s get started.
What you will need:
Sheet of 1″ thick insulating foam
Xacto or craft knife
1″ and 3/4″ PVC pipe, 3/4″ elbow PVC and 3/4″ 4 way PVC.
Saw or PVC cutter
Wood Screw Plugs (See Photo in Tutorial)
Foam Core Board
Black and Rust Colored acrylic craft paint. (For rust color, I like to use Burnt Orange mixed with Brown.)
Beige and Gray Acrylic paint. (If this is going to be exterior, then I would recommend getting small cans of Acrylic House Paint.)
Disposable work cloth or old towel.
Command Strip Velcro (enough for about 8 pieces)
Step 1. This is my front door. It doesn’t matter how much I decorate the front porch, there is nothing Halloweenie about this door. I wanted it to look like a dungeon door, or a front door to a wicked old witches house. First off, with the door closed I measured the exposed door. Take 1/2″ off that measurement so it is 1/4″ shorter all around. Cut that measurement out of the sheet of 1″ foam. This can be picked up at your local hardware store. Lowe’s is usually blue and Home Depot is usually pink.
Step 2. We want to make sure this fits flat against the door, so take off the door knob hardware. You will notice that I have a frame around the window in the door which sticks out 1/2″. I centered the foam on the door and pressed hard against the frame so that it left a mark on the back side of the foam. Using my Xacto, I cut out where the frame was so that the foam could sit flat on the door. Open and close the door with the foam held in place to make sure that it doesn’t catch anywhere. Make any trimming adjustments where needed. Now that you have your basic door cut out, hurry and put the door knob hardware back on before SOMEONE sees that you took it off. I’ve had to think about these things over the years. Usually when ever I need to change something or take it apart, I time it to when I’m home alone like when my wife goes grocery shopping or something.
Step 3. If you want a window in the door, mark it with your marker pen and cut it out using your Xacto and straight edge. I want the look of old wood planks so about every 6″ or so mark a vertical line down your door with your straight edge. Now go back with your xacto and cut out the marked line with a V cut. You don’t want it to be perfect and so just freehand the cut. In other words, don’t use your straight edge for the cut.
You will want to get some grain lines in the foam to look like old wood. This can be done using a screwdriver, nail, wire brush and or fork. Whatever you decide to use, make sure the tool is held at an extreme angle as you drag it down the foam so that it won’t tear into the foam. Use slightly wavy strokes as you make the grain pattern. You might want to look up pictures of old barnwood etc. to get ideas how the grains flow through the wood.
Step 4. Paint your door with the Beige paint. When dry, paint it gray, but as you brush it on go back and wipe it in places with your cloth allowing some of the beige color to show through. Now take black acrylic paint and water it down. Brush it over the door and allow to run down the door. Take your cloth and wipe it causing black runs and streaks which gives it a very natural and uneven look as shown. This step might best be done outside in the chicken run or something. In other words, not in your living room.
Step 5. Now let’s add some large rivets along the top and bottom of the door, probably around 4″ to 5″ in from the top and bottom edges. Take some small scraps of foam and cut out small circles about 3/4″. Take your Xacto knife and slice off bits and pieces making it look like it was hammered. Paint them a rust color. I like to use Burnt Orange and then dry brush with Brown. Now glue them on the door as shown.
Step 6. I cut out the hinges from Foam Core Board. You can buy sheets of it at the dollar store. If you don’t know what style of hinge you want to use, try going online and looking up medieval door hinges and it will give you lot’s of ideas. glue rivets on the hinges as desired. All the remaining rivets on this project are wood plugs used to plug screw holes in furniture. You can buy a bag of them for around $1.50. Paint the hinges a rust color and glue in place on the door as shown.
Step 7. Now we are going to frame the window with Foam Core Board. Looking at the picture of the window in step 9, notice that I cut the outside frame from one piece of foam core. I measured it so that the inside cut out piece was 1/4″ smaller than the opening all around (or the thickness of the foam core). I made the thickness of the frame 3″ wide all around. I used the piece of foam core that I cut out of the center to slice it into 1″ wide sections to frame the inside of the window. Now glue the 1″ wide pieces to the inside of the window opening, framing the inside of the window and then glue the outside frame in place. The opening in the outside piece of frame should lay on top of the inside frame nicely.
Step 8. The iron bars that I made are from 3/4″ PVC pipe with 6 – 3/4″ elbows and 2 – 3/4″ 4way pieces. I use small pieces of 1″ PVC pipe as connectors. Make your bar set long enough to overhang the window opening and sit centered on the foam core frame. I used PVC adhesive to put the pieces together, but if you don’t have any handy, just use your wood glue. You will start to notice that a good indoor/outdoor wood glue has become my basic go too. It glues most everything and does a good job of it. I love the stuff. My favorite is the Titebond II.
Step 9. Paint the iron bars a rust color. When it is dry, I like to dry brush a little black in the crevices as shown. Glue the bars onto the window frame. Glue rivets where desired. Now go ahead and paint the frame a rust color and your window will look something like this.
Step 10. When making it so the hardware works with the Halloween door you need to cut out a portion of the foam as it will be too thick to work with the door hardware. Looking at your door you might be lucky and find that just cutting out a small section of the foam to fit around the hardware will work for you. I wasn’t so lucky. The door hardware on my door actually took up a lot of space and so I designed it to cut out the foam door section as shown then glued a piece of foam core at the back of the opening. I then framed it all in with the foam core board just as I did around the window opening. Glue rivets where desired and then paint a rust color. If you look at the top picture of the finished door you can see how I framed around all the hardware.
Now your door is basically finished as far as the construction goes.
Step 11. Remove the door hardware once again. Now we are going to attach the door. I’m sure you can figure out better ways to do this such as regular Command Strips etc. but what I used was the Command Strip Velcro. I used about 8 pieces of this strategically placed around the door, corners, center, etc.. Once I got all the pieces in place both on the existing door and the Halloween door, I simply pushed it into place. The reason I used the Velcro is because now if I misplaced it at all I can carefully pull it off and realign it without ruining my adhesive backings. I know that using regular Velcro strips would work, but the Command Strip brand is designed to make sure I don’t damage the paint on the existing door and is easier to remove.
Once in place, working from the back side of the door, cut out the holes needed for the door knob hardware. I just used my Xacto knife and traced through the holes cutting through the foam core board.
I didn’t have any problems putting the hardware back on which is now on top of the foam core board. Even though the foam core pulls the hardware 1/4″ further apart, the screws are usually plenty long enough to reach the threads. But if there is a problem, longer screws are easily purchased at the hardware store.
Step 12. The only thing left is addressing the window. If you put a window in but don’t have a window on your door, you may want to attach a piece of black poster board on the back or get creative with something like a picture of an evil witch staring out at you. I had a window and I wanted the light from inside the house to shine through. So I picked up some colored cellophane at the dollar store and taped it to the back. I fold it over several times to make it a darker richer color. I change the colors frequently because I’m just plain weird. Some nights It is Yellow, or Orange. The night of the party I usually change it to an eerie green.
Don’t stop there however. Be creative and add spookiness to your door. The next Halloween after I made this door, I added the face of a skull just below the window with a ring attached to it making a very cool door knocker. Sorry I don’t have a picture of it. But I will show you once I get it out of storage. Which brings me to one last comment about this project, which is storage. This door still takes up the space of a door, but is so light it makes it very easy to handle. I removed a section of ceiling board in my garage and laid plywood down over the rafters in the attic area. Standing on a ladder I load and unload all of my decorations from that space. Having this project weigh almost nothing sure makes it easy on my back.
Have fun with this project and as always, throughout the year, have a Happy Halloween!