Remodeling projects in older homes invariably involve adding new doors and windows – which usually means discarding the old ones in landfills. However, those old doors are handy pieces of lumber that have a variety of functional and decorative uses. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests reusing, selling or donating doors – as well as other building materials – as alternatives to discarding doors in landfills. (See Reference 1)
Desks and Workbenches
Turn a smooth-surfaced hollow core door horizontal over sawhorses for a quick, portable work surface, indoors or out. For a permanent workbench or office desk, mount the door over short, matched bookshelves or filing cabinets; place shelves facing outward on each end, or filing cabinets facing forward, for accessibility. Use a sheet of glass to create a smooth writing area; or, top with tiles or several coats of enamel paint to finish.
Place hinges on the inside edges of three doors to make a tall folding room divider. For added stability, add angle brackets or wood cross bracing to the bottoms. Paint or cover the doors with fabric or posters for a decorative touch.
Shelves and Closets
Fasten doors together as you would shelving – using long screws or dowels to fasten two or more doors horizontally between two upright doors of the same size. The resulting deep shelves offer a sturdy solution for storing heavy items in the garage or basement. Alternatively, using the same idea, position the fastened doors upright to create partitions for closets or small cubicles.
Build two flat ladder-like structures of 2-by-4-inch lumber for end supports, then hang two doors horizontally between them, with more 2-by-4-inch boards as side supports, to create the platforms for bunk bed mattresses. Make a Pullman-style guest bed by mounting a door on the wall with a heavy piano hinge; use chains anchored to wall studs and to bolts through the outside corners to support the door in the "down" position. Pull upward and fasten the door against the wall when not needed; use a futon mattress, which can be rolled up and stored when not in use. Put a message board or mirror on the underside, for a useful feature when it is not being used as a bed.