Installing interior French doors is no different from installing a single door. You’re just doing the same thing in double. However, they can be tricky because you constantly have to make sure that everything is level, if you want a professionally installed appearance. On that note, if you do get that appearance, French doors obviously can really improve the look of a room. In addition, they can really help bring in natural light to your home, particularly for a room that’s dark and drab. This helps a lot if you want to add more light and the atmosphere of space, but still want to keep two spaces separated.
It’s not a project for beginners, but if you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer, it can be worth taking the time to do it yourself.
Measure The Door Frame Space In Three Places
As with all door installations, whether garage doors, slab doors, or your new French doors, you want to measure the area in which your new doors will hang in three places. You do this to get the most accurate measurement, which will be the widest of the three. To find the widest measurement, measure across the door space toward the top, then across the middle, and then across the bottom. Then you can pick out a French door kit with matching width measurements. There are standardized door measurements, but if your space doesn’t fit, there are manufacturers who will make custom sizes.
You will also need to measure the jamb depth of the opening, so you can pick out a door that will fit within that depth. Again, standard French doors should fit, especially if you have a newer home, but if not, you can install a new jamb to fit the doors you want.
You can, of course, hang any French doors you want, but it’s really worth considering purchasing a pre-hung kit. Pre-hung doors eliminate a lot of the headaches involved in installing French doors. As with all kits, follow the manufacturers’ guidelines above any others.
Consider The Space Around The Door
Determine whether the door will open out or in. French doors require more space than other doors, so make sure your desired doors have enough space to open as they should. You can do this by measuring the width of each French door and then measuring the radius out from it that it will need to open. There are also styles, particularly for exterior French doors, where only one door opens, so that’s an option if you want only the look of French doors and don’t necessarily need or want both to open.
Remove The Old Frame
Using your hammer and pry bars, carefully remove the old frame and trim. Be sure to label the pieces of trim as you take them down, because you don’t want to add solving a puzzle to what can already be a challenging task.
Check Your Levels
Once the frame is removed, use your carpenter’s square and long level to make sure there are no surprises with the opening for your French doors. Is everything level and square? If so, you’re almost in business.
Begin Installing The New Frame
Put in the new frame, using the shims to hold it up. Drill pilot holes in the frame and the shims, then use nails to hold the frame in place. You need the nails only temporarily, so don’t drive them in all the way—just enough to hold the frame.
Size Up Your New French Doors
Test each new French door in the frame to make sure that each fits and can open all the way. You may need to make adjustments. Once you’re sure that they fit properly, move on to the next step.
Finish Installing The New Frame
Once the doors fit and you’re sure that everything is plumb, it’s time to finish installing the frame. Screw in the new frame, removing the nails as you go.
Hang The Doors
When you’ve got your frame secure, it’s time to hang your new French doors. You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for this step, as well as the manufacturer’s instructions for your chosen hardware (latches, door knobs, etc.)
French doors can be a beautiful addition to your home. They can also be a bear to install on your own. Cut down on any hassles by using a pre-hung French door kit and if you need it, grab some extra help. Home tasks always go easier when you’ve got an extra set of hands.