How would you use a secret door? We have one built into a cut-out rocket in our playroom, which we use to cover the door to our secret ballpit cupboard – check out my other blog post here to see more on how we made that. The rocket door is probably my Husband’s favourite project that I have done yet and is one I really enjoyed doing. The great thing about it is that it is nowhere near as difficult or expensive as people may think, you can do it in a day for under £70!
Anyone can make one of these rocket doors to cover a boring normal door. It doesn’t have to be a rocket… you could do a tree, castle, or anything else creative! The things you need to do this yourself are:
- A jigsaw (you can get a basic one like this from Screwfix for about £25)
- A screwdriver or drill
- A pencil
- Some sandpaper.
- Paint primer
- Basecoat paint for the MDF and paints to decorate
- A paint pen to add the fine details to the design
- A sheet of 18mm MDF, 1220×2440 mm (4’x8’)
- CLS timber studwork to secure it to the door frame (we needed two lengths).
- Screws to fix the MDF to the batten and then longer ones to fix battens to the door frame
- Wood filler
- Optional: Striplights to go around the doorframe (to backlight your new feature door!)
So how did I make it? The first thing I did was to take the existing internal door and hinges off, so we just had an empty door frame. We then measured the size of this and marked it onto our sheet of MDF, starting from the bottom so the frame was centred in the sheet of MDF. After this was done I then measured the ceiling height to see if we would need to trim the MDF sheet down (you may need to do this if you have low ceilings) and then drew out a pattern for the outline of the shape we wanted the door cover to be. I used a little toy rocket for inspiration and drew the outline of the rocket onto the MDF. After this I drew where I wanted my door opening to be. We went with a curved door, like a portal into the rocket.
Next, I lifted the MDF onto some supports so it was off the floor (if you don’t have any trestles you could use a table, or your pieces of timber studwork). Then, I used the jigsaw to slowly cut along the outlines, so I had the shape of the rocket and the new little door. I then went over it lightly with a hand sander to make sure I had a good finish on the edges.
The next step was then to fix the battening in place. I measured the size of the existing doorframe, and then laid out the battens on the back of the MDF so they would just fit inside the opening. We then screwed them in place, to make a framework that we could then screw to the inside of our our door frame. We did this so that we could mount the new MDF door to the existing frame damaging the visible side of our door surrounds. We used 38x63mm CLS for the framework, so mounted it with the narrow side touching the MDF, so the longer side would slot into the doorframe. We drilled through from what would be the front side of the rocket door, then filled over the screws with wood filler and sanded it smooth after the filler had dried. Once this was done I fixed the small new door in place using the cabinet hinges, mounting the hinges to the back of the new door so that all the screws were on the back.
After this it was time to paint the MDF. It’s much easier to do this when it’s laying down, so I sanded the whole sheet lightly then primed it using a roller and then added two coats of paint on top (lightly sanding between) to have a good finish. I used a brush to cover the cut edges of the MDF too.
I had decided to add some lightstrips to our existing door frame to backlight the new door, so before fixing the new door in place I stuck lightstrips around the outside edge of our existing door surround, so they would give the new door a gentle backlighting. I used several different Philips Hue lightstrips, which lets us change the colour in different sections of the door. If you just want a single colour than you can get kitchen worktop lightstrips from Amazon which are a really cost effective option. If using these, as they have an infrared remote controller you need to make sure that the infrared receiver peeps around the edge of your door frame somewhere to pick up the signal.
Next, it was time to mount the new door. We carried it into place, then slid it over the existing doorframe so that the timber framework was up against the inside of the door frame. Then, I screwed through the framework so it was mounted securely inside the door frame.
Almost done now! The next thing I did was adjust the door hinges to make sure the little door was lined up perfectly and swung nicely. Then, it was time for the fun part – decorating! I used my pencil to mark up the outline of the rocket décor (a logo and porthole window) and then painted the design on. I then used the paint pens to go around the outside of the design to give a nice crisp edge and added some finer details to the designs with it.
That’s it! It took me less than a day start-to-end and is one of my favourite parts of the playroom. My daughter loves it too, and all her friends love finding the secret ballpit inside it. I know you will come up with lots of creative designs and fantastic ideas, and I can’t wait to see you post them on Instagram so I can get to enjoy them!