Tips for Installing French Doors
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Stephanie in Colorado on the line who’s installing some French doors. How can we help you?
STEPHANIE: My husband and I have sliding doors in our bedroom that go outside. And we have French doors that we have – they’re all ready to put in; they’re framed. And I was just calling to see if you had any advice about putting them in.
TOM: Well, let’s presume that the French doors and the sliding doors are going to fit in the same opening, to start with. Is that correct?
STEPHANIE: The French doors are a little taller.
TOM: Ah, that’s a problem.
STEPHANIE: Just about an inch.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a tough inch to pick up when it’s in the height like that. The thing is, you’re going to have to figure out if you have enough room to get those French doors in, Stephanie, without having to cut or modify the header that’s going to be above the sliding door. Because the distance from the floor to the bottom of the header, that’s called the “rough opening.” That’s the rough, vertical opening. And that rough, vertical opening has got to be taller than the distance from the bottom of the French door to the top of the jamb of the French door. Because if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get that French door in that opening. It’s absolutely critical that the rough opening be sized properly.
So, you could probably figure that out by just pulling the molding off from the side of the slider. And you’ll see enough of the framing there where you could get a pretty good measurement as to how much room. Sometimes, there’s a fair amount of room above the sliding doors until you get to the header and maybe you’ll have that room.
Now, if you’ve got the room, putting that French door in is – it’s not a basic, do-it-yourself project. I’m just going to tell you that right off. But the way I would approach it is – the first thing I would do, if it was me, is I would take the slider out one panel at a time. You want to try to make this as light and manageable as possible. So you remove one panel, then the other. Then you pull out the slider frame.
And you put the French doors in the same way. You take the doors off of the hinges. And what you actually “hang” inside the opening is just the frame of the French doors without the physical doors in place. Just the outside jambs. Because that’s very easy and lightweight to handle and if that’s installed properly and square, then the doors will pop in right after that with minor adjustment. But that’s the way you approach it.
Again, not a basic, do-it-yourself project. Putting a door in is one of the more tricky projects. So if that’s above your skill set, I would definitely hire a carpenter or a handyman to help.
Alright, Stephanie? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.