How to Put Trim Around a Door When the Wall Is Not Level With the Frame

Steve Sloane

When the frame of an interior door is installed against the wall stud frame, the door frame should protrude out from the stud frame by 1/2-inch. This is to allow for the 1/2-inch wide drywall to be installed, and be flush with the door frame. However, if the door frame protrudes more than 1/2-inch, the trim won't rest evenly on both the door frame and drywall. This is alleviated by pushing wood shims at intervals between the drywall and trim, and the gap filled with caulk.

Use a hammer to knock in the 2-inch finishing nails.
  1. Measure and cut the corners of the trim at 45 degrees, with a miter box and saw. Sand the cut ends to remove any splinters.

  2. Place one side piece of trim in position over the door frame and drywall, and push in a wooden shim between the two at the top end of the trim. Make sure that the shim is pushed in to the extent that the trim lays parallel with the surface of the drywall; the end of the shim may need to be cut, to ensure that the trim lays parallel. Use a hammer to knock a 2-inch finishing nail through the trim and shim, into the wall stud frame.

  3. Install a second wood shim 12 inches below the first shim, ensuring that the trim is parallel with the drywall. Continue in this fashion down the length of the trim, installing the shims 12 inches apart and securing the trim with the finishing nails. Install the other side piece of trim, as well as the top piece of trim, in the same way. Knock all nails just below the surface of the trim using a hole punch, and fill the holes with wood filler.

  4. Cut off all pieces of shim that protrude out from the edges of the trim. Use a utility knife to cut through the shims so that the cut is flush with the edge of the trim.

  5. Apply paintable caulk to the gaps between the trim and drywall, all around the two pieces of side trim, as well as the top trim. Wait for the caulk to fully dry before applying paint.