How to Build Farmhouse Style Door Headers

On our initial walk-through before purchasing our home I decided the existing builder-grade trim was boring and plain. If you’re in that situation I’m going to teach you how to build farmhouse style door headers with ease. Let’s get into the details.

Farmhouse Style Door header Trim in my hallway Makeover. This is the shot towards the Laundry Closet. Dark shiplap to the right and a handmade Repurposed Eastlake mirror frame turned into a laundry dry rack is installed on the wall to the left.
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My big plans include slowly replacing all of the existing builder-grade trim throughout our entire house. In each room I undertake, this is the first step I take. It has given such a clean look and added charm to an otherwise plain area.

You don’t need to be intimidated by the whole process, it’s actually a pretty simple DIY project. But it does require a few tools.

Watch this on Youtube:

Supplies & Tools to Build Farmhouse Style Door Headers

As far as tools there are many options if you don’t own a nail gun, simply use a hammer and finish nails. To cut you can use any kind of saw, including a handsaw, jigsaw, miter saw, or circular saw.

The type of wood is also dependent on your needs and desire. I chose to use real wood, though it is a slight extra cost. In my opinion, the additional cost is worth the quality you get in return.

But many choose to use MDF boards. What’s listed are the supplies I used, but feel free to make your own choices.

Farmhouse style door header trim over my laundry closet. I redid this small laundry closet with DIY shiplap and handmade solid wood shelves stained dark. The flooring is a bright italian tile pattern with blues and whites.
This laundry closet is between my hallway and my living room. It’s small, but I made it pretty and functional.


  1. Brad Nail Gun & 2 1/2″ Brad Nails
  2. Wood Glue
  3. Common Lumber Pine, 1x6x8 & 1x2x8 (The amount of each will vary on the number of doors you’re trimming)
  4. Miter Saw
  5. Table Saw (to rip the rounded edge off, see my post How to Make Cheap Wood Look Pretty)
  6. Orbital Sander
  7. 80 & 120 Grit Sanding Pad or Sanding blocks
  8. Caulk & Caulk Gun
  9. Spackle & Metal Putty Knife
  10. Utility Knife
  11. Pry Bar
  12. Pliers
  13. Measuring Tape
  14. Carpenter’s Square
  15. Pencil & Notepad

I purchase most of my supplies at my local Home Depot, but you can also get them at pretty much any local home improvement store as well.

When you get to the rest of your trim this post How to Build Farmhouse-Style Trim Cheap is a detailed tutorial about all the trim I’m building in my home. Including the window frames and baseboards.

And though this tutorial is for the door header this is the exact same process for a window header.

A corner in my hallway where installing farmhouse style door headers was tricky. The doors were so close together I had to connect them at an angle in the corner. The bathroom door and closet door are inches apart from each other.
I paint all my trim White Dove by Benjamin Moore. This corner was one instance where the sides of the doors were so close I had to come up with a creative solution. I ended up connecting their headers at an angle.

A Few Extra Steps to Take in Preparation

These add only a few extra minutes to this easy project, but they will add another level of quality to the finished look.

4 Steps to Take Before You Begin

For this step you’ll need your Pry Bar (or Metal Scraper), Pliers, Measuring Tape, Notepad & Pencil, & Utility Knife.

01 Uninstalling Old Trim

The very first step you need to take is to score the caulk line of any previous trim with your utility knife. This helps the caulk separate from the wall and paint so you don’t incur any damage that’ll need to be fixed.

Take a pry bar or, I use my metal scraper, and carefully pull at the old trim. If the caulk is still attached, score it again. If not, remove the trim by creating leverage and go down the entire length of the trim piece until it pops free.

Remove the nails immediately with a pair of pliers and dispose of them.

Pro Tip: if you use a thin piece of wood between the pry bar and the drywall you can gain proper leverage without damaging your drywall.

02 Remove Any Nails Stuck in the Wall

Using your thin piece of wood as leverage between your pliers and the drywall, pull out any previous brad nails. Dispose of them immediately.

03 Remove Old Caulk Residue

Run your metal scraper tool across the surface of your wall and thoroughly remove any old caulk. This ensures your next trim will lay flush.

To avoid damaging the drywall run your scraper horizontally at an angle pointing downwards.

04 Take Notes & Measurements of Each Doorway

I wish I could say that each doorway is going to be precisely the same, but there may be slight differences in door casings. It’s always best to measure twice, and cut once.

DIY Door header farmhouse style trim on a bedroom door. It consists of 1 - 1x6 which is sandwhiched between two 1x2s. Painted white dove by benjamin moore.
In the middle of a prime coat of paint. I always go with white trim.

Step One – Cutting the Wood to Build Farmhouse Trim

For this step you’ll need a Pencil, Carpenter’s Square, Measuring Tape, Your Measurements, Table Saw, Miter Saw (or other saw option), 1×6, both 1x2s, and both 1x4s.

Choosing Your Wood

To build a simple Farmhouse style door header I chose to use a 1×6 sandwiched between two 1x2s.

The 1×6 comes with square edges as it is considered premium lumber. However, I use my table saw to rip the rounded corners off the common lumber 1x2s before I start. Read about that process in my post How to Make Cheap Wood Look Pretty.

To Cut Your Wood

To properly measure out your door header you first have to account for the side trim board that goes on either side of the doorway. Mine were 3″ each, so I added 6″ to my door casing measurement. Then I added in 1″ overhang on each side. So, the equation looks like this, Width of the opening + 6″ + 2″ = Your Total Door Header Board length.

Take your measurements and cut your boards making sure to get straight cuts.

Your Vertical Boards

Though you’re building the header which installs at the top of the door, you’ll need to cut the side pieces as well. To measure this you’ll want to measure from the top to the bottom of the inside of your door casing.

Don’t go by the height of the door as doors are typically cut short to allow free opening and closing.

The Dry Fit

After you’ve cut your pieces it’s wise to do a dry fit before moving forward with your project. This way if you’re off you can cut it further or cut a new piece before investing time sanding it.

DIY Handmade solid wood pine door header trim painted white dove by benjamin moore. Next to the door is my repurposed eastlake mirror frame turned dry rack.

Step Two – Sand Your Individual Pieces Thoroughly

For this step you’ll need your Orbital Sander, 80 & 120 Grit Sanding Discs, or Sanding Blocks.

Not a Step to Skip or Skimp On

Before you put all your pieces together make sure to sand each individual piece thoroughly with first 80 grit and then 120 to finish.

Sanding the pieces before you put them together will make the finished trim pieces fit together seamlessly. You’ll want a tight fit and flat surfaces for optimal glue adherence.

When You’re Done Sanding – Clean the Dust Off Thoroughly

Before you glue your pieces together you want to clean them thoroughly. I take a very lightly damp rag and do a thorough wipe down of all the pieces and let them dry.

Step Three – Assembling the Header

You’re finally ready to assemble your header. You’ll need your 1×6” and both 1×2″s, Wood Glue, 2 1/2″ Brad Nails, and your Nail Gun.

  1. Take your 1×6 and stand it up on it’s side horizontally.
  2. Spread a thin line of glue all the way down.
  3. Take your finger and evenly distribute the glue.
  4. Lay a 1×2 on the top of the 1×6, hold it firm.
  5. Shoot in a single nail on one end. Ajust the board flush with the entire piece.
  6. Shoot another nail in on the opposite end.
  7. Fill in nails all the way down ensuring you’re holding the nail gun completely upright.

Safety Tip: Keep your fingers free from where the nail will be shooting. Occasionally you will get a stray nail and you don’t want it to find your finger.

Door header handmade real wood trim installed and painted with two coats of white dove by benjamin moore.

Step Four – Installing Your New Trim

For this process you’ll need your both 1×4″ (cut to 1×3″) Vertical Trim Boards, Door Header, Brad Nailer, 2 1/2″ Nails, and Measuring Tape. You want to ensure you’re hitting the frame or the wall studs for this entire process.

Installing Both Vertical Trim Boards

  1. Take your first board at a time and hold it flush with one hand while putting in a single nail at the top.
  2. Slide your hand down about a foot, ensure it’s flush with the door frame and put in another nail. Continue this process all the way down.
  3. Do this same process for the second vertical board.

Be aware that there are times when the door hardware, strike plate, and even the door jamb could cause difficulty in installation. I had to trim around a strike plate with my jigsaw once.

Installing the Door Header Trim

  1. Rest the header on top of the two vertical boards, hold it with one hand.
  2. Measure each side to ensure the 1″ hangover on either side.
  3. You can mark your board with a pencil to make it easier if you can’t hold it up and get your nail gun.
  4. When your header is in position shoot one nail into the door frame or a wall stud.
  5. Continue to shoot several more nails along the door frame (hold your nailer horizontal, not at an angle).
Farmhouse Style Trim Hallway Makeover. This shows a wall of my hallway where I hung up my repurposed Eastlake Mirror frame dry rack next to my small laundry closet. The header trim for both doorways is craftsman era influenced.

Step Five – Caulking the Trim/Wall & Spackling

For this step you’ll need a Damp Rag, Utility Knife, Caulk, Caulk Gun, Spackle, and Metal Putty Knife.

Caulking the Trim and Wall

  1. With your utility knife cut your caulk tube open at an angle.
  2. Insert it into your caulk gun.
  3. With even pressure run a line of caulk between the trim and the wall.
  4. Use your finger with light pressure, or a caulk tool, to create a nice even caulk line.
  5. Clean any excess and your fingers with a damp rag.
  6. Do this anywhere where 1x2s, 1×6, and 1×4 vertical boards meet as well. This creates the illusion of a single piece.

Spackling Imperfections in the Wood & Nail Holes

I prefer to use color changing spackle to fill all my wood imperfections and nail holes. You can find my reasonings in this post, 7 Tips to Prep for Paint Like a Pro.

  1. Use your finger with a small amount of spackle and fill any holes you find.
  2. Push the spackle into the hole or imperfection.
  3. Come back through with your metal putty knife and clean off the excess.
  4. When the color changes and it’s dry come back through with a slightly damp rag and wipe off anything remaining. Be careful not to remove all of it.

Step Six – The Painting Process

Painting is my least favorite part of any project. It tends to feel like it goes on and on, but it’s also the part of the process where things really start to come together.

There are a few things that can make this part of the process a lot smoother like a paint sprayer. But overall what makes this process smooth is following proper procedures and doing all your prep work. Find all that information below.

When you’re preparing to paint check out these posts

A Short History of the Craftsman Style Moulding

Craftsman homes emerged at the turn of the 20th century, and with their clean, simple lines, they’re considered an offshoot of British Arts and Crafts architecture, says Yuka Kato of home remodeling site

The look was embraced as the antithesis of the stuffiness of Victorian homes which reigned at the time. “The elements of Arts and Crafts were first made popular as a revolt against the industrial revolution and signaled a renaissance in handmade furniture and architecture,” Riordan says.

Early in the twentieth century, the desire for a more handmade craftsmanship element became desired. Coming out of the victorian era we saw the Craftsman or Arts & Crafts era born with consumers wanting to go back to hand crafted features.

Craftsman homes would feature a lot of clean horizontal lines and take an artisanal approach to all decorative elements. You’d typically find built-in bookshelves, window seats, and exposed beams.

One major key feature is the trim. Craftsman style homes feature thick trim around the windows and doors. I believe the Arts & Crafts style was a pathway that paved the way into the modern farmhouse look we see today.

Thanks so much for stopping by!


Meet the Author

Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→

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