How To Build a DIY Exterior Door

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How To Build a DIY Exterior Door

Spring is coming, and for us, that means we can finally complete all the projects we have planned over the winter.

One of those projects was to install a new door.  One that fits the personality of this house.  We didn’t want a steel door.  They are all the same style.  We wanted this house to stand out.  So, we decided on solid wood.

But there’s a budget.

There’s always a budget, and it’s a game to see how much UNDER budget we can come.

So, while at Lowe’s we looked at the solid wood exterior doors.  Though on some homes they would be fantastic…. on our home, not so much.  But they do offer special ordering.  This isn’t a race to see how far OVER budget we could come.  So special ordering was not an option.

So, we thought…there’s got to be a way to build this…and to make this budget-worthy, with a quality that would survive a tornado.  (I did mention we have 2 very active boys, right?)

The Epiphany

Why don’t we build this out of plywood?  It’s strong, it’s going to be under a porch roof, protected by the screen door, and painted to protect it even further.

So that’s just what we did.

And you can do it too.  It’s THAT easy.

You will need:

Table saw, jigsaw, drill, miter saw, 1 5/8″ screws, wood glue for exterior applications, paint.

2 sheets of 23/32” plywood. (Commonly referred to as 3/4″ plywood)

1 sheet of ¼” plywood.


Our door happened to be 32″ wide, and 79″ tall, whereas, our door frame was 32 1/2″ wide, and 79 3/4″ tall.  As you can see, we had MASSIVE amounts of air coming in.

We wanted our door to fit snug, but not stick.  So, we chose 32 ¼” X 79 ½”.


The door has 3 layers.  2 layers of 23/32” plywood, with a ¼” sheet sandwiched between.

With the table saw, we ripped BOTH sheets of plywood down to 32 ¼” wide, and 79 ½” tall.

diy exterior door

Still using the table saw, we took the 23/32” sheet and ripped it into three 5” strips.  We then cut ONE of the 5” strips down to 46” long.

Next, we took the scrap that was about 16 ½” X 32 ¼” and ripped that into 2 pieces measuring 7” X 22 ¼”.

With the 2nd piece of 23/32” plywood, we ripped a 7” strip from it. We then cut that strip down to 22 ¼”.

**We also built a screen door, which is featured here, so, with the remaining 23/32” plywood, we ripped it into 6” strips, and had enough for a wooden sign I’ve been wanting to make. **

The pieces you will need for the exterior door are as follows:

1 –23/32” X 32 ¼” X 79 ½”

1 – 23/32” X 32 ¼” X 79 ½”

2 – 23/32” X 5” X 79 ½” strips.

1 – 23/32” X 5” X 46” strips.

3 – 7” X 22 ¼”

Lay everything out to make sure everything lines up:

DIY exterior door


We took our door inside to glue all the layers together.  It was getting chilly outside!

Now is where it gets fun!

Lay the 23/32″ plywood down, and give it a good coat of glue.  I used a tiny trim roller to make sure every inch of the wood was covered.  I know, I didn’t get a picture.  We were trying to work pretty fast at this point.

diy exterior door

Next, lay the 1/4″ plywood down onto the 23/32″ sheet.  Press it down to make sure every inch makes contact.

Finally, lay out the smaller boards as shown here:

diy exterior door

We used 1 5/8″ screws and screwed the smaller boards down, making triple sure everything lined up perfectly on each side.

diy exterior door

At this point, we stopped for the night.

The next day, we cut the opening for the window with the trusty jigsaw.

diy exterior door

Remember, it has to be perfect, so go slow!

diy exterior door


I didn’t get a picture of the glass being inserted into the door.  I know.  Epic fail.

However, here is a picture of how it’s held in.

diy exterior door

Front of Window

To insert the glass, I first cut decorative trim that we had left over from a previous project, and lined the outside of the window.  I then flipped the door onto its front, and laid the glass inside the opening.  I placed window glazing (from a caulking gun) around the glass.

diy exterior door

Back of Window

As you can see above, I then cut additional pieces of trim to be placed around the edges, holding the glass inside the opening.

Then, the holes for the hardware were drilled.  The center of the deadbolt is at 42″, and the center of the doorknob is at 36″.


diy exterior door

Don’t forget to sink those hinges into the door:

diy exterior door


We then braved 18-degree temperatures to get that puppy hung!  Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of the door being hung.  It took both of us, and someone has to work the camera.  😉

But here is the finished product:

diy exterior door


I chose yellow paint because I wanted our house to reflect our personality, and I wanted it to stand out.  Yellow is a fun color and reminds me of summer.  Everyone chooses red, even me.  Since I have painted red doors on so many other houses.  It was time for a change.

I hope you enjoyed our little project!  The total cost was about 100.00 for BOTH a solid wood exterior door and screen door, that measure about 32″ wide.  You can’t beat that!

I will write about our gorgeous screen door VERY soon.  It was made from the scrap wood that the door was build from!

 diy wooden door

DIY Exterior Door

15 thoughts on “How To Build a DIY Exterior Door

  1. Awesome! I love that you came up with a way to use plywood! You didn’t write about how you put glass in the window?? I was looking forward to the part. Lol. Anyways. Love it! Look forward to seeing the screen door! ❤️

  2. This looks so pretty… lovely colour! I never imagined building a door would be that simple. I’m not the handiest person but the hubby is good at stuff like that… so next time we need a door, saving this 🙂

  3. Love it! We need a new front door and it is a custom size so will be expensive! So might try making it now. But where did you get the window from? What type of glass did you use?

    1. We went to Lowe’s and had them cut a piece of glass for us; we were replacing an old door that had regular glass in it, so that’s what we went with.

  4. This is so cool! I would never have thought to make my own exterior door. Also I love that painted it yellow. Why do we all love red doors so much? Question on the glass, did you have to cut it? Or did you buy a specific size?

    1. I have always done red doors on houses too! They’re great, but its totally NOT our personality. Lol. We’re pretty fun 🙂 I had the glass cut at Lowes 🙂

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