DIY: Salvaged Door to Desk in 5 Steps

This is an easy beginner DIY project to get those creative juices flowing, try your hand at repurposing, and save that door from a landfill burial.  At least that’s what I told myself when I needed a crafting/sewing table but didn’t feel like spending money on a new one.  This door had been sitting in my garage for over a year waiting to be turned into a desk.

Salvaged door

Salvaged door

Before I began this project, I decided which “look” I wanted.  This might be intuitive, but the reason it’s important to choose the look you want first is because this determines how much elbow grease goes into prepping the table.  The chippy-paint look is least labor intensive because all that’s needed is a good cleaning and light sanding on the rough areas and you’re done!  However, a really high gloss lacquer contemporary look requires stripping the existing paint and sanding the surface multiple times with different grits to get a super smooth surface.  Also decide if you want to keep the existing hardware on the door.  I opted to remove all the hardware, give this door a single solid color, but keep some of the character by leaving the dings and dents.

Step 1:  Fill in all the holes, cracks, and large grooves in the door.  This includes the deep rectangular shaped indentations left by old hinges and doorknobs that were removed.  I used joint compound rather than spackle for this, particularly for the deep indentations.  Joint compound dries much harder than spackle, so it is easier to layer and sand.  Make sure the joint compound has dried completely before moving on to the next step.

There was a large indentation in the side of the door after an old hinge was removed.  This was filled with 3 layers of joint compound.  Ensure each layer is dry before applying the next one.

There was a large indentation in the side of the door after an old hinge was removed. This was filled with 3 layers of joint compound.

Step 2:  Sand the door.  (Optional:  strip the paint prior to sanding.  I may do this next time, because although I sanded the surface pretty well and it felt smooth, after the paint went on it didn’t look smooth).  I used an orbital hand sander for all the flat surfaces, and sanded the grooves by hand with a sheet of sandpaper.  Sand first with a medium-coarse grit (100 grit), wipe the door down and repeat 1-2 more times or until the surface feels generally smooth to touch.  Switch to a finer grit (220), and repeat the process.  You’re done when passing your hand over the surface of the door feels smooth and even to the touch.  Give it a good last wipe with tack cloth, which removes all fine particles, before moving on to the next step.

Step 3:  Prime the door.  I used a spray paint primer, but a can of primer paint also works.  Whichever option you choose, the key is to use multiple thin layers rather than 1-2 thick layers.  Wait until each layer is dry (approximately 15-30 min) before applying the next layer.  This ensures an even finish.  Just to give you an idea of how thin the layers are, this is the door after one coat of primer:

The door after one coat of primer.

The door after one coat of primer.

I used 4 thin coats of primer, which is what it took to get the door (almost) all primer white.  Tip on using spray paint:  if you’re spraying, you’re hand better be moving.  Pausing in one spot, even for a fraction of a second will cause drips and a big glob.

Step 4:  Paint the door (Optional:  Prior to painting the door, lightly sand the door again with a fine grit paper since the primer has roughed up the surface.  You’ll notice the surface no longer feels smooth when you pass your hand over it after last coat of primer dries).  Again, using multiple thin layers is better than 2-3 thick layers and wait for each layer to dry before applying the next.  I used a sponge brush to avoid brush marks.  Also, a sponge brush can get into the nooks and crannies unlike a roller.

Color:  SW Naval

Color: Sherwin-Williams Naval

After one coat of paint.

After one coat of paint.

After seven (yep, seven!) coats of paint.  Note to self:  use dark primer for dark paint next time.

After seven (yep, seven!) coats of paint. Note to self: use dark primer for dark paint next time.

Step 5:  Attach door to a base.  I loved these from Ikea:


$10 each


(Just a warning, these particular legs do not come with pre-drilled holes to screw the table to the legs, so there is no way to attach the door to these legs.)  Truthfully, the weight of the door and the sturdiness of these legs made the unit seem solid.  However, I wanted a little bit more security so used a long strip of Velcro to attach the door to the table.  Once I use the table, if I find it moving, I can drill the holes and screw the table to the legs later…

(Optional) Step 6:  Top the table with a piece of glass.  I only topped the table because I needed a flat surface for my sewing machine.

(Optional) Step 7:  Just to give the door a little pizzazz I embellished with upholstery nails.

…and voila!  The finished product in place:

Salvaged Door-to-Desk




Here are pics of a few other creative DIY salvaged door projects:

As a headboard.

As a cool kitchen island topper.

As a wall installation..  ( I couldn’t fine the original source, though this pic is plastered on several websites.  Too bad ’cause whomever thought of this deserves the credit!  It’s gorgeous.)

chalkboard door via Apartment Therapy

As a message board…  (same situation with the reference..)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s