how to install door trim without nail gun

You can install door trim without a nail gun using traditional hand tools. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Door trim pieces (pre-cut to size)
  • Measuring tape
  • Miter saw or miter box and saw
  • Hammer
  • Finish nails (usually 6d or 8d nails)
  • Nail set
  • Wood putty or filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Safety glasses
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Construction adhesive (optional)


  1. Measure and Cut the Trim:
    • Measure the length of the top and side edges of the door frame where you plan to install the trim. Use a miter saw or a miter box and saw to cut the trim pieces at 45-degree angles for the corners. Ensure the angles are complementary so they fit together snugly at the corners.
  2. Dry Fit the Trim:
    • Place the trim pieces around the door frame without attaching them to ensure they fit properly. Make any necessary adjustments to the trim pieces if they don’t fit perfectly.
  3. Mark the Trim for Nails:
    • Using a carpenter’s pencil, mark the locations where you want to drive nails into the trim. Typically, nails should be placed about every 12 inches along the length of the trim, near the center and edges.
  4. Pre-drill Nail Holes (Optional):
    • If you’re concerned about splitting the trim when nailing, you can pre-drill small holes where you’ve marked for nails. This can help prevent splitting.
  5. Apply Construction Adhesive (Optional):
    • For added stability and bonding, you can apply a thin bead of construction adhesive to the back of the trim pieces before attaching them. This step is optional but can enhance the trim’s adhesion.
  6. Attach the Trim:
    • Position the top piece of trim first, aligning it with the marks on the frame. Hold it in place while you start the nails. Drive a finish nail through the trim into the door frame using a hammer. Repeat this process for the side pieces of trim.
  7. Counter Sink the Nails:
    • After driving the nails, use a nail set to slightly countersink the nail heads into the trim. This allows you to fill the holes with wood putty later for a seamless finish.
  8. Fill Nail Holes and Sand:
    • Fill the nail holes with wood putty or filler, and smooth it out with a putty knife. Allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once dry, sand the filled areas until they are flush with the trim.
  9. Final Touches:
    • Sand the entire surface of the trim to smooth out any imperfections or rough spots. Wipe away any dust with a clean cloth.
  10. Paint or Finish:
    • Apply paint or finish to the trim to match the door frame and achieve the desired look.
  11. Clean Up:
    • Dispose of any debris, and clean your tools and work area.

Installing door trim without a nail gun is a straightforward process that can be accomplished with some patience and basic hand tools. While nail guns can make the process faster, traditional hand tools can yield excellent results with careful attention to detail.

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