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Installing French Doors

French doors

Installing French doors can add value as well as beauty to your home. They are an elegant way to update old glass doors, or even divide interior spaces. With the improved insulation and better construction of the modern French doors, draftiness is not a problem.

Supplies for Installing French Doors

  • Measuring tape
  • Caulk
  • Shims
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Insulation

If the door is not pre-stained, then you will need to add painting supplies to your list. You can get everything you need, including ordering the doors, at your local Home Depot or Lowe's.

How to Install French Doors

Take your time and measure carefully when installing French doors. It isn't a particularly difficult job; however it is necessary that your measurements be accurate. Remember that French doors swing into a room and space for the doors to open freely must be taken into account.

Plan on taking a full day to install a French door, even for an experienced do-it-yourself type.

  1. Measure the opening. If there is a preexisting opening and you are changing the size, such as taking a single door and making it double, then be sure to allow room for framing. Measure twice and be sure to get the same exact measurements.
  2. Order the doors in the correct size, and pick up any supplies that you will need. If you have a historic home built before 1940, check the size of the jamb carefully. You need to make sure the jamb depth of the new door matches what you have in your home. You may need to make modifications, or get a custom jamb.
  3. The doors may take up to a month to arrive, depending on where you get them. Use the time to do some research on installing the doors, and how to handle the problems that you might run into.
  4. When the doors arrive carefully remove the packing material. Inspect the doors, and read the packing list to make sure you have the correct doors and the correct hardware. Make sure everything listed as being included with the doors is actually there. Measure the French doors to make sure they are the right size.
  5. Read the instructions that come with the door. Be sure you understand all terms, diagrams, and directions.
  6. Remove the old door, including casing, fasteners, and shims. Run a line of caulking on the floor across where the old doorsill used to be. This will protect the floor.
  7. Check the opening for levelness.
  8. It is easiest to remove the doors from the frame for installation if you are installing a pre-hung French door. If you don't wish to remove the doors from the frames before installing then leave the clips on the doors.
  9. Center the frame in the opening. Make sure it is plumb with the inside wall and level on the top and bottom.
  10. Use shims on top as well as on both sides of the door unit, using them as necessary to make the door frame fit properly. Check for levelness each time you add a shim. After you shim the top and bottom corners, shim behind the hinges. At each corner, shim the top and sides for a firm fit.
  11. Attach the frame with screws.
  12. Set the doors on the hinges and make sure the doors swing freely.
  13. Attach the strike plates and double-check placement.
  14. Mortise.
  15. Adjust the threshold riser for a tight, draft-free fit.
  16. Place the insulation into the gap between the framing and the wall. Install the molding and caulk the exterior to seal out drafts.
  17. Paint or stain the molding, and the door if necessary.

Sometimes reading about how to do something is not the same as watching it being done. If you need a visual explanation the following video should help:

Installing French doors is a complex project that can be done with patience, time, and some help. The satisfaction of completing the project and the added value to your home will make it all worthwhile.

Installing French Doors