Fitting architrave

Architrave simply covers the joint created by a door frame (the door lining) and the surrounding wall surface. There are many styles available, and most people match the profile/design of their architrave with the skirting board in the room. Fitting architrave is a very straightforward job, with the only potentially tricky part being that you need to cut accurate mitred joints for the corners. Old architrave can normally be prised off with a claw hammer.

door lining margin 1. Mark a margin on the door lining. This is a 5-10mm gap between the edge of the door lining and the inside edge of the architrave.
marking architrave 2. Draw margins either side of the door and at the top, joining at the corners at right angles. On the left, align a length of architrave with the margin, and mark off where the architrave meets the right angle of the margins at the top.
cutting architrave 3. Position the architrave in a mitre block and cut a mitre using the mark as a guideline.
fixing architrave 4. Precisely reposition the length of architrave on the left of the door and fix it in place temporarily so that adjustments can be made if required.
architrave mitre 5. Cut another mitre on a length of architrave slightly longer than required for the top (head) section. Hold it in position and check the joint.
marking mitre 6. Holding firmly in place, mark off at the other margin corner, and then cut this mitre. Do not fit the head section yet.
securing architrave 7. On the right, align another length of architrave, mark, cut and mitre as on the left side and secure in place along the margin with some nails – again don’t drive the nails completely home.
nail architrave 8. Now position the head piece, and check that it fits perfectly – make any small adjustments if required. Then, permanently secure the head section with four nails. Use at least six nails to secure each upright.
punching in nail 9. Use a nail punch to knock all nail heads below the surface. These fixing holes may then be filled and sanded before decoration.
pilot holes 10. To keep the mitred corners tight you need to fix through both sections. Use a 3mm wood bit to drill pilot holes through the mitres before knocking in nails (one on each corner).

Architrave tips

  • If you are replacing or fitting both architrave and skirting, always fit the architrave first.
  • If the door lining is not precisely ‘square’, simply adjust the exact 45 degree mitred cut accordingly.
  • Take care when positioning fixings – make sure you avoid hitting cables or wires – in most cases you should be able to direct fixings into the wooden lining.
  • You can use screws to fix architrave, but nails are normally all that is required. If you are fitting particularly wide architrave, you may need to fix into a masonry wall surface – in which case, a few screw fixings will help secure the architrave in place.
  • If you plan on doing a lot of work requiring mitred cuts, buying an electric mitre saw will make life an awful lot easier. For more information, check out my mitre saw buying guide.


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