.This little guy gave me a run for my money, but I’m so glad I decided to do it. I learned a lot with this one, especially since you can’t exactly buy a door that will fit your needs, you have to make it all from scratch!
Closet Renovation Recap:
- How I Got Started with DIY
- Attic Closet Renovation Part 1: Structural
- Attic Closet Renovation Part 2: Paint
- Attic Closet Renovation Part 3: Flooring
- Attic Closet Renovation Part 4: Trim
Why add a knee wall door?
If you remember, in my Attic Closet Renovation Part 1: Structural post, I talked about how on the right-hand side, there was a long crawl space. If we had drywalled all of this, it would’ve been a weird unusable space. Plus it would’ve been really difficult to drywall it! By “closing off” this wall, I gained a whole wall for storage, but this door also allowed me to still use that crawl space in the future.
Right now, I use it to store seasonal clothing, my old organization system, and old bags that I honestly won’t probably ever use. I really need to go through it at some point, but since it’s basically “out of sight out of mind” it doesn’t affect me like some other spaces in my home!
Building the door
I went into this blind and didn’t have much of a plan. I just knew that I didn’t want to spend a ton of money building a knee-wall door that would be hidden by hanging clothes!
Thankfully my brother took care of the hard part by framing this out. I just had to get a piece of plywood or MDF that would “fit” in the hole. Of course, I had to make sure that it didn’t fit too tightly that it could get stuck, but also not too loose that it would let in a draft since the crawl space wasn’t insulated.
I ended up choosing MDF because of the price. I did go with a ¾” because that’s probably all that I could find, but ½” would be better since it’d be a bit lighter and easier to install. The piece was 24”x48” so I cut it down to size with my circular saw and Kreg rip-cut guide.
The hole was about 24″x36″ so I really only had to worry about cutting the long size. Then, I brought it up and dry-fitted it. It wasn’t perfect. I went back and forth between shaving off pieces of the MDF and using a drywall rasp on the opening to finally get it in place as best as I could.
Now, even though this door is mostly hidden, I wanted to dress it up a little bit by adding faux shaker-style panels. For this, I just added ¼” plywood that I ripped down to 3″ panels. I installed by just adding added some wood glue and small nails. This was an easy add and it made a pretty decent impact.
Once everything was assembled, it was time to caulk, wood fill, sand, and paint. The caulk goes on the inside edges where the panels meet the door. I used wood filler to fill the nail holes on the panel and to clean up the borders where the four panels meet each other. Once the wood filler is dry, I can sand and wipe it down. Then, it was time to prime and paint.
Honestly, this was hard. I chose these hinges because you don’t have to chisel out the door and door frame to install them, which honestly just seemed easier! And I decided on a gate latch, again because it seemed easy. Both worked out really well.
The most difficult thing was balancing the weight of the door while trying to install it. Because it’s lifted a bit, I had to try to hold it up, while also screwing it in. The sloped ceiling made it too difficult to work with two people, so I had to work solo.
I probably could’ve saved myself some heavy lifting and hard work by pre-drilling some holes. I think the tight space was also making me not think straight and get frustrated pretty quickly! But then again, you learn something new with every project, right?!
After I got the hinges and latch all squared away, I still felt like it looked pretty unfinished. Luckily, I had some of this lattice PVC trim in my scrap pile, so I decided to add these to the sides to make it look much better. It’s not perfect craftsmanship by any means, but for a hidden knee wall door that basically just gives me bi-annual access to my crawl space, I’m quite pleased!