How to Install French Doors


French doors match the practicality of sliding glass doors while providing added elegance and beauty to your home.
French doors match the practicality of sliding glass doors while providing added elegance and beauty to your home.
iStockphoto.com/Steven Miric

­Looking to add some light between two drab, dark rooms? Or maybe you like the openness of your patio doors but are looking for something with a little more design than your average sliding glass door? In either of these scenarios, French doors might be the perfect option for your renovation.

French doors are paired doors that have glass panes for most of their length. They usually open outward, and close toward each other. Because they don't have a center jam, French doors were once thought to be a safety concern. Now, however, with sturdier and safer lock advancements over the years, French doors can be a great complement to any home. Because French doors are made mostly of glass, they let in a lot of light -- one of their main appeals. Though they are often used to open out to a patio, French doors can also be used in the ­interior of a house. This usage is popular, especially for home offices or libraries, because they can let more light from another room into a darker room, but still provide the room separation a door gives.

Advertisement

­Installing French doors can be a bit more complicated than exchanging one pre-hung single door in your bathroom for another. While it's not a job reserved for professionals, installing Fre­nch doors does take a bit of skill. You will be hanging not one but two doors from scratch, so be sure you're comfortable and have some help before attempting the installation -- whether interior or exterior.

Feel up to the challenge? Read on to find out how to install interior French doors, and then continue on to discover exterior French door installation.

Installing Interior French Doors

Installing interior French doors isn't a cakewalk, but it doesn't have to be imposs­ible. Care and a little work can lead to some beautiful doors that let in a lot more light. There are several items you'll need on hand for the installation, including: a power drill, saws, screwdrivers, hammers and mallets, screws and nails, shims, a pry bar, a chisel, a tape measure, a carpenter's square and a level. Don't forget safety glasses, and last but not least, the French door kit with a frame and doorknobs.

­To install interior French doors:

Advertisement

  1. First, remove the old frame. Be careful when using the hammer and pry bar so that you don't damage the trim. It's a good idea to label the trim pieces so you can put them back up more quickly.
  2. Check your opening to be sure it's a perfect square. Use the levels and carpenter's square -- and don't skip this step! Paying attention to details like these is what makes this difficult installation easier.
  3. Install the new frame, using the shims to hold it firmly in place. Then, test the new doors to make sure they fit in the frame and open smoothly. If everything works nicely, use the screws to put the frame in its place permanently.
  4. Finally, hang the doors and mount any hardware accompanying the kit (doorknobs, latches, etc) [source: HGTV].

Want to bring the beauty of your patio into your house? Installing exterior French doors is a perfect way to do that. Read on to discover how.

Installing Exterior French Doors

Installing ­exterior French doors isn't much more difficult than installing interior French doors -- if you already have the opening.

To install exterior French doors, you can follow similar instructions to those on the previous page for installing interior French doors, though you have to remember to seal your opening carefully to protect the interior of your home from the elements. You should begin by framing the opening, and then sealing it. Same as with interior French doors, you should see if the doors fit properly, adjusting shims as necessary. Once you have hung the doors, seal the doors to protect against nature.

Advertisement

­If you have to cut the opening for your doors, be sure to contact a professional. Cutting out an exterior wall of your house is a major job -- something not to be undertaken lightly. You don't want part of the house to collapse because you've cut away support, or lose a valuable utility because you accidently cut some wires running through the walls. If your house has siding, you'll also have to cut the siding so that it fits with your new door's molding [source: Vandervort].

Though installing French doors isn't a job for a do-it-yourself beginner, it can certainly be done with a lot of careful measuring and patience. The key to this job is persistence - you may have to adjust those shims repeatedly. If you've worked hard enough to install these doors, you want to make sure you've done it right so you can enjoy your French doors for years to come.

For more information on related home improvement topics, visit the links on the next page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • Carter, Tim. "French Doors." Ask the Builder. (Accessed 12/13/08)http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/dr_panel/article/0,,DIY_13798_2276314,00.html
  • Dixieline Pro Build. "Installing French and Patio Doors. (Accessed 12/13/08)http://www.dixieline.com/frenchdoors/frenchdoors1.htm
  • DIY Network. "French Doors: Setting the New Door in Place and Finishing Touches."
  • Fleming, Kelly. "Installing French Doors." Associated Content. March 12, 2007. (Accessed 12/13/08)­http://www.associatedcontent.com/video/5024/installing_french_doors.html?cat=6
  • HGTV. "Install French Doors." (Accessed 12/13/08)http://www.hgtv.com/home-improvement/install-french-doors/index.html (Accessed 12/13/08)http://www.askthebuilder.com/N1-French_Doors.shtml
  • Vandervort, Don. "How to Install a Patio Door." Home Tips. (Accessed 12/13/08)http://www.hometips.com/articles/anytime/patiodoor.html