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  • Writer's pictureMalcolm Petit

How to Trim Internal Doors

Discovering that your newly purchased internal door doesn't quite fit your frame can be frustrating, but it's a common challenge. Most doors need some degree of trimming to ensure a snug, functional fit. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the process of trimming internal doors, including the tools you'll need, step-by-step instructions, and important considerations to achieve a professional result.

Can You Trim Down Interior Doors? Yes, you can trim most internal doors, including hollow core doors. While there isn't a standard size for doors, common door sizes exist. However, variations in frames, rough openings, and floor coverings often necessitate minor adjustments. You can purchase a bespoke door to avoid trimming, but for standard frames, it's often more convenient to buy a pre-finished door and trim it as needed. The following steps will guide you through the process.


Tools You Need

Before you embark on trimming your internal door for a perfect fit, ensure you have the right tools at your disposal. Here's a list of essential tools that will make the job easier and safer:

  • 1x Door Wedge

  • 1x Hand Saw or Plane Power Tool (see step three for more detail)

  • Face Mask (one per person)

  • Goggles (one per person)

  • Masking Tape or Painters Tape

  • 1x Pencil

  • 1x Utility Knife

  • Straps/Clamps (to secure the door to the workbench and prevent movement in situ)

  • 1x Tape Measure

  • Sandpaper

  • 1x Workbench


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Having these tools on hand will ensure a smoother and more precise trimming process, resulting in a well-fitted internal door.

Step 1: Measure Your Door Frame and Mark for Trimming Start by measuring your door frame accurately, ensuring your new door fits snugly, provides noise reduction, and insulates against heat and cold. Use a tape measure and a straight edge to mark the areas that require trimming on your door. Consider keeping the panels as even as possible for a seamless finish.


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Step 2: Secure the Door and Prepare for Cutting Lay your door on a workbench and secure it with straps or clamps to prevent movement during the cutting process. To avoid splintering, apply masking or painter's tape around both sides of the door, extending up to six inches high.

Step 3: Choose Your Cutting Tool and Safeguard Yourself Wear protective goggles and a mask. Depending on how much material you need to remove, choose between a hand saw or a plane power tool. A plane tool is preferable for minor adjustments, while a saw is more suitable for significant trimming. Ensure your tool is adjusted for gradual and even trimming. Always cut in the direction of the wood grain for a smooth finish. Regularly position the door in its frame as a reference point to ensure your calculations are on track.

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Step 4: Finish the Door and Restore Its Appearance After trimming the door to your desired fit, lightly sand the cut edges with fine sandpaper. Exposed areas will need to be restained or repainted to match the door's appearance. Sanding before staining or painting ensures a smooth finish once it dries. Allow the stain or paint to dry entirely before hanging your internal door.

Step 5: Install the Door with Ease Install the door in the frame, position the hinges, and insert the hinge pins. Use hinge screws to secure the door in place, allowing for smooth and easy opening and closing. For additional guidance on hanging your door in an existing frame, consult our helpful guide.


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Trimming a Door Without Removal If your door fits well but scrapes against the floor, you can sand the problem area without removing the door. Here's how:

  1. Protect your floor with a suitable material.

  2. Open and close the door to identify the area causing friction.

  3. Place sandpaper under the problem area and continue to open and close the door, sanding the bottom.

  4. Regularly check the impact to avoid removing too much wood.

For minor adjustments to a door without removal, consider using a plane power tool to trim the door gradually.

How Much Can You Trim Off a Door? The amount you can trim depends on the door's material. Solid wood doors are easier to trim because they are uniform throughout. A general rule of thumb is not to trim more than two inches from any door to avoid potential damage.


Trimming Different Door Materials

  • Hollow-Core Doors: These doors have a strong outer frame at the top, bottom, and sides, allowing for trimming. However, avoid cutting too much, or you risk damaging the door's structural integrity.

  • Oak Veneer Doors: Most oak veneer doors have lippings made from solid wood on each side. You can trim up to approximately 10mm from the sides, but consult product instructions for specific guidelines.

  • Laminate Doors: Laminate doors can be trimmed on all edges, but avoid trimming more than 5mm to preserve door integrity.


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Sealing a Trimmed Door To protect the wood and maintain the door's appearance, finish it by applying an appropriate treatment or paint. Choose from oils, finishes, stains, varnishes, or paints, depending on your door's material. Follow manufacturer instructions for a seamless finish.


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Achieving a Perfect Fit While most internal door manufacturers aim to match standard door sizes, some degree of trimming is often required. It's crucial to measure accurately, continually check your progress during the trimming process, and finish the door correctly to maintain its fresh appearance and long-term durability. If you have any uncertainties or questions, consult manufacturer guidelines or reach out to our experienced team for assistance. Your perfectly trimmed door awaits, offering both function and aesthetics.


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At Malcolm Made This, I am not just passionate about providing you with top-quality doors; I am also committed to making your carpentry dreams a reality. Whether you need assistance trimming your doors or have other wooden visions in mind, I'm here to help.


To learn more about how Malcolm Made This can bring your carpentry projects to life, please don't hesitate to reach out. Fill out our contact form, and I will be delighted to assist you every step of the way. Your vision, my craftsmanship – together, we can create something extraordinary.




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