Cutting Door Casings for New Flooring

Existing door casing and hall floor I’m in the middle of my latest redecorating project which involves stripping wallpaper that’s older than me, giving the room a fresh new paint job and installing a new vinyl-plank floor. Anyone who’s installed a new laminate or hardwood floor has discovered that door casings can present a challenge to achieving a professional-looking installation.

After giving my particular situation some thought I came up with a plan and found just the tool to pull it off – a flush-cut pull saw.

squaring guide block to casingThe problem

Laminate floors float – meaning they aren’t fastened down. They also need space to expand and contract at the perimeter of the room. Typically the baseboard or a quarter-round shoe moulding installed after you’ve laid the floor covers the recommended 1/4″ – 3/8″ gap that you need to leave along each wall.

It’s a bit trickier at the door casings – especially when you can’t remove the baseboard and the door casing has a profile on the face.

Simple solution

Undercut the door casing so the flooring will slide underneath. If you’re cutting the casing just high enough to clear the new flooring thickness here’s the basic method. There are more tricks of the trade to do this but that’s not my focus here. I knew the simple method wasn’t going to be easy or work very well for a few reasons including having to deal with an existing 3/8″ drop to the original hardwood floor in the hall.

cutting casing with pull sawPlinth block solution

I decided to cut the casings above the baseboard which will allow me to fit the flooring easily and then install 1″ thick plinth blocks at the bottom of the casings to cover the expansion gap. Plinths are architecturally appropriate to my house casings which have corner blocks at the top. I’ll still need to use a quarter-round shoe mould along the baseboard and mitre it at the end where it meets the plinth.

I wanted to cut the casings before painting anything in case I had to repair any damage to the casing or plaster walls while cutting. I’ll show how to make & install the plinths in another post after I complete the job.

casing cut for plinth blockThe perfect tool

After doing a bit of research I bought a 10″ DeWalt double edge pull saw. It has a flexible blade that cuts flush to any surface with 14 teeth per inch (TPI) on one edge and 7 TPI on the other. The blade can also rotate on the handle so you can use it in tight spaces.

As the name indicates – it cuts on the pull stroke which gives you lots of control while cutting. I managed to cut six casings and only gouged the plaster once inside the closet where it was hard to see. The blade is very sharp and great for flush cutting dowels, shims, or framing as well.

pry out cut casing sectionWhat to do:

  • Cut a guide block the height you want your plinth – about 1/4″ to 1/2″ taller than your baseboard is typical
  • Use a speed square to ensure the guide block is 90 degrees to the casing – don’t assume the floor is level
  • Clamp the guide block the casing – use a piece of scrap wood to protect the casing on the opposite side of the jamb
  • With the pull saw flat on the guide block carefully cut the casing – checking each side of the cut as you get close to the wall
  • Once you’ve cut through the casing use a pry bar to gently remove the cut piece and any nails

lower casing removed for plinth

I’ve still got a ways to go to complete this project in my not-so-spare time and I’ll share more details in the coming months.

Related posts:

Simple Door Casing Plinth Blocks
How to Make Window Jamb Extensions
Fix Loose Plaster with Plaster Washers

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