Given the choice, most of my clients will opt for solid-core doors over hollow-core ones. It’s a quality thing: In my area, solid-core doors cost about twice as much as hollow-core doors, but it’s an easy sell when homeowners learn they get a quieter and more solid-feeling unit for their money. I like solid-core doors because they cost less and are more stable than raised-panel pine doors. To raise the ante a bit, I offer an upgrade that guarantees that my clients’ doors will look absolutely unique: “custom” frame-and-panel designs, which I make by applying panel moldings to flush doors. Depending on the molding, this upgrade can add as little as $50 to the cost of each door. Most of my doors are traditional two-, four-, and six-panel designs, but I’ve also applied curved moldings to square-top doors, and I’ve cut arched tops in taller slab doors and added matching arched frames. I’ve even transformed solid slab doors into glass doors by cutting out a rectangular panel and replacing it with glazing. I’ve used applied moldings this way for both new construction and remodeling projects. The technique can be used with exterior doors too, as long as exterior glue is used and there’s an overhang of at least 6 feet to protect the door and moldings from the weather. And I always make sure my clients understand that cutting a door — so that lights or an arched top can be added — voids the manufacturer’s warranty (though I’ve never had any problems).

Various manufacturers offer a wide range of panel moldings, but I’ve found that the best ones have fairly thin edges on both the inside and outside, so that the profile returns gently back to the door. The PM 525 and embossed PM 24 and PM 25 profiles from White River Hardwoods are good examples (800/558-0119, whiteriver.com). Moldings that have...

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