How to Fit A Door Under the Stairs and Under Stairs Storage
Fitting a Door Beneath the Stairs
With the basic panel below the stairs completed you could just decorate it to match the room. However, adding a door, fielded panelling and other details will create a more finished appearance and you can choose the look which best suits the overall style of your home.
Tools for the Job:
- tape measure & pencil
- fine handsaw or jigsaw
- sharp plane
- nail punch
- Check the opening is square and plumb. If the frame is not perfectly upright withdraw the and adjust. Take accurate measurements from the door opening and transfer these to thin ply or MDF, 3mm (1/8in) thick is ideal but otherwise use 6mm (5/16in). Cut around the door outline using a fine handsaw or jigsaw with a fine-toothed blade. Use a sharp plane to create a 3mm (1/8in) gap all round.
- Check against the door opening that the first panel is a correct fit. Then make an exact copy using the panel as a template. Ensure both panels are identical as discrepancies may impart a twist in the final door. Tips of the trade When trying for fit, to prevent the door falling through the frame hammer two nails part way in either side of the door, leaving about 10mm (1/2in) to support the leaning door.
- Using one of the door panels as a guide, cut 25 x 40mm (1 x 1-1/2in) timber to form an internal framework for a door 50mm (2in) thick. Run the strips for the two long edges first and cut the cross pieces to meet these. If your woodworking skills are good, cut mitres at the top corners.
- Spread wood around the edges of one of the panels and pin the timber sections in place, holding them in position with G-cramps. Spread wood around the edge of the timber then pin the second panel into position, again holding the timber in place with G-cramps as you drive the pins in. Set the pin heads below the surface with a nail punch.
- Fit a hinge on the high side of the door, 150mm (6in) down from the top and 200mm (8in) up from the bottom. Surface-mounted hinges, as shown here, are the easiest to fit. You can use traditional hinges that are let into the edge of the door and frame, but these are harder to fit and require a greater degree of skill.
- Attach a magnetic latch at the inside top edge of the door to retain it in the closed position. Then fix your chosen door handle no more than 1m (3ft) from the floor and 100mm (4in) in from the opening edge.
Tips of the trade
It can be difficult to measure the gap between the door and frame. Try using a slim coin as a gauge for maintaining consistent gap around the door.
Adding trim will take some of the boxiness out of what might otherwise be a rather bland, flat panel. Correctly executed and tastefully applied details can enhance your work. Try to pick up from existing details and décor in the room or hallway where the spandrel panelling is located. Matching skirting boards or base moulding along the bottom of the panel will tie everything together. Similarly, you may choose to match up nearby architraves and use this to frame your doors.
- One option to break up the expanse of flat panels is to add some faux fielded panels. First cut some 6mm (5/16in) thick MDF 100mm (4in) smaller all round than the overall size of the door and panels. Plane a small bevel all around the edge before and pinning it into position.
- To give the appearance of fielded panels, cut some pieces of small bolection moulding to size, then glue and pin them so that they just cover the edge of the panel fitted in step 1. Be careful cutting the mitres at the corners, as they will show up badly if poorly executed. Finally, check the finished door fits into the opening, planing the edges if required, then decorate the door as desired and it into position.
Under Stairs Storage
Many DIY stores stock metal shelving systems that are both lightweight and sturdy. These systems are ideal for areas like the underside of stairs since they can be easily adapted as storage needs change. Stores also offer a great variety of wooden shelving, but these are often quite expensive and with very little effort you can create your own at less than half the cost.
If you intend to install coat racks or shelving, do this prior to hanging the door so you do not block access.
For many woodworking hints and tips from Ted ‘Woody’ Mcgrath – Professional Woodworker, Educator, Member of AWI , Please Click Here!