How to Build an Arched Doorway

John Albers

Arched doorways are very typical of early 1900s American and British homes. Unfortunately in the last fifty years or so they've fallen out of vogue due to the extra time contractors and construction workers must spend to build them.

A Very Regal Arched Front Door

They are not particularly expensive to build, but they are time-consuming, and time equals money where any form of construction is concerned. To a contractor, the more time it takes to finish one project, the more money has been lost because they could've been spending that time on their next project. They remedy this problem by simply charging their clients much more for the work. Over the past few years the Old World elegance and style created by this architectural affectation has regained popularity as many homeowners have found ways to set arches into their pre-existing doorways. This guide will explain how to convert a standard door-frame into an arched one.

  1. Begin by using your crowbar to pry up the floorboards and frames from the doorway. If a door is attached you should use a screwdriver to remove the hinges from the door frame and set the entire assembly, both door and hinges aside.

  2. Find the seems of the drywall above and to the side of the doorway, use you utility knife to cut through and reveal these seems and then pry the drywall free. Use your claw hammer to pull out the nails before pulling the drywall free if you are able. Set the drywall aside, if you're careful then you may be able to use these old pieces instead of having the hassle of purchasing and cutting new panels to the appropriate size.

  3. Use your measuring tape to see how wide the door frame is, as well as the thickness of the door jamb. Take note of these sizes and then go to a home construction, repair, or remodeling store. Purchase a ready made archway of the appropriate size and two matching column frames. You could go about making your own archway, but this requires a good deal of carpentry experience as well as a very steady hand with power tools. Without these things then your arch will probably end up crooked and look off balance.

  4. Fit the ready made arch to the top of the doorway and stencil the area that touches the wall with pencil. Take the arch back down.

  5. Use the pencil marks to cut two sets of 2X4 blocks. Each set should consist of three blocks, each at a different length. The first should be fitted horizontally to the top corner of the doorway. The second should be fitted vertically to the top corner of the doorway. The third should be fitted diagonally to meet the ends of the other two blocks in what looks like a right triangle. Use the drill and 3 inch screws to fit these blocks into place on both sides of the top of the doorway.

  6. Use the circular saw to cut four identical pieces of drywall. Each piece should be a triangle matching the exact dimensions of the wooden blocks on you doorway. Again use the drill and the 1-1/4 inch screws to affix these pieces of drywall to each side of the wooden blocks, front and back. Use Spackle and a putty knife to cover over the screw holes in the drywall.

  7. Re affix the old drywall to the the wall surrounding the doorway with new screws in the old holes. Spackle over the screw heads.

  8. Drill holes into the two side columns down where the door jamb would go.

  9. Fit the arch up to the top of the doorway and prop one end up by fitting one of the columns into place around one door jamb. Push the arch tightly up to fit against the doorway and slide the other column into place. Hammer eight penny nails into the already drilled holes of the columns as well as one nail into the center of the arch on each side of the doorway.

  10. Use Spackle to cover over all the nail holes and the joints between the arch and column. Wait for it all to dry. While you wait, apply new drywall tape to all the visible seems between the surrounding drywall panels.

  11. Paint over the drywall and taped seems with the same color paint the rest of the wall is done in. The color of the columns and arch should match the surrounding baseboards.

  12. Press your door to the new arch and stencil the top of the door with a pencil. Use your scroll saw to cut the door along the pencil line.

  13. Sand the top of the door smooth and fit it to your doorway. If it fits comfortably then drill new holes for the hinges and screw your door back into it's new frame.

  14. Tip

    Make sure to cover the floor and furniture with drop cloths. All cuts with the circular saw should be made outdoors to keep sawdust out of the house.