How to Install Door Trim With Uneven Walls

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Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs
  • Yield: One side of door trim
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to $20

Installing door trim works beautifully when all of the surfaces are in alignment. Uneven walls will throw off that perfect fit. But there is an easy procedure that brings the door trim into alignment with the door casing—despite uneven walls. It requires only a few simple tools, and you don't need to cut the door casing or door trim.

Installing Door Trim on Uneven Walls

Door trim surrounds a door opening on three sides like a picture frame. Trim covers the gap between the door casing and the wall. When the wall protrudes farther out than the edge of the door casing, one or both of the vertical door trim pieces will not meet the casing perfectly.

Tilting the door trim to force it to meet the casing is a poor workaround. This creates a visible gap on the wall side. Most telling, though, is at the top, where it meets the horizontal header trim. The angled trim doesn't align with this header trim.

The fix is to create a depression or pocket in the drywall so the trim rests slightly deeper into the wall. This works for trim that is up to 1/4-inch out of alignment with uneven walls. Sinking the trim deeper than 1/4-inch causes the trim to recede from view, and this is even more visible when other sections of the trim are not recessed.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Cordless drill with driver bits
  • Cordless nailer
  • Flat prybar
  • Clean towel or cloth
  • Utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Five-In-One tool

Materials

  • Drywall screws, 1 5/8-inch
  • Painter's caulk

Instructions

  1. Remove the Door Trim

    If this is a fix, not a new installation, first remove the existing door trim.

    With the prybar, gently remove the door trim from the door casing. Begin on the wall side and fit the flat end of the pry bar under the trim. Insert a towel or cloth under the prybar's fulcrum to protect the wall. Push down on the prybar. The trim should pop up, allowing you to remove it.

  2. Secure the Drywall to the Stud

    Sometimes, the drywall underneath the door trim has loosened from the stud. The drywall screws or nails may have popped through the drywall paper. If there is a gap between the drywall and the stud, drive several drywall screws to secure the drywall to the stud. If there is no gap, do not drive screws as this will complicate later steps.

  3. Cut the Drywall Paper

    Placing the trim back in position and using it as a straight edge, slice the drywall paper on the outer edge. Avoid cutting farther back into the gypsum core for now, though you may need to do that in later steps. Put the trim aside.

  4. Peel the Paper and Test Depth

    With the sharp side of the five-in-one tool, slice away drywall paper on the door side of the slice. Do this carefully so that you do not disturb the paper or gypsum on the other side. Peel away the rest of the paper by hand. Test this new, lower depth by placing the trim on top. Sometimes, removing this thin layer of paper is enough to bring the trim into alignment with the door casing. If this does not work, proceed with the next steps.

  5. Remove Drywall Screws or Nails

    If there are any drywall screws or nails in that strip between the door casing and the cut, remove them.

  6. Break the Gypsum Core

    With the hammer, tap the drywall on the door side of the slice. Your goal is to partially shatter the gypsum, loosening it for removal in the next step. Do this carefully to avoid breaking gypsum in areas that you want to preserve.

  7. Remove Some of the Gypsum

    Scrape away gypsum to the depth that you need. Keep the depth equal. Frequently test the depth by placing the trim over the area that you are gouging out.

    Tip

    If you removed drywall screws or nails in a previous step, replace them. Do not nail back in the same spot as the nail will not hold.

  8. Install the Door Trim

    With the cordless nailer, nail the door trim back into place. The far side of the trim should rest within the pocket that you created within the drywall.

  9. Apply Painter's Caulk

    Apply a small amount of painter's caulk to the far (cut) side of the door trim to smooth the appearance and cover up any ragged paper cuts. After the caulk has dried, paint the trim and the wall.