DIY: Installing Interior French Doors

French doors are simply pairs of stile and rail doors featuring a large glass panel, or many smaller panels of glass. Installing French doors in your home is relatively easy, and can be a worthwhile DIY home improvement project that will greatly improve the appearance of your home. French doors can make your home feel much more open and light, and can also create a more contemporary look than traditional doors. Your first step in installing French doors is to choose your door model. With French doors, there are literally thousands of combinations to choose from. You can select from a dozen wood species, hundreds of stains or colors, and infinite light and panel combinations. Simple models can be purchased from your local home improvement store for around two hundred dollars. More complex models can be purchased from companies that specialize in stile and rail doors, such as Trustile (www.Trustile.com) or Masonite (www.Masonite.com).

Most French doors will be sold as prehung units. These prehung units make DIY installation simple, and should work in most situations in the home.

When installing French doors in the interior of your home, you will typically be installing into a drywall opening. You’ll need only a hammer, nails, a level, and wood shims. The first step is to frame out a rough opening for your door unit. The paperwork that’s shipped with your door will instruct you as to the size of your opening. The rough opening should be 1/2″ higher than the unit’s height, as well as 1/2″ wider or each of the jambs. Don’t worry: This gap will be covered by the door’s casing.

After you have framed your opening, you will hang the door unit. Slide the bottom into place first, and make sure the unit is centered in the opening. Next you will nail the unit into place. Use three nails in each jamb, but refrain from hammering these nails completely in at this point, so it will be easy to remove them later if need be.

Once the door is nailed in place, check that the spacing along the jambs is even from the top of the door to the bottom. If it isn’t even, use your wooden shims to create equal spacing. After you’ve shimmed as required, check the door frame on all three sides with your level. Use shims as necessary until the door and frame are truly plumb and level. Failing to make sure your door is level will result in problems opening and closing the door.

After you are confident the door is level, you can finish nailing the unit. Countersink the original nails you placed in the frame and use nails to secure all shims. Follow up with any painting, sanding, or drywall patching as required.

There is nothing quite so satisfying as completing a home improvement project with your own two hands. If you follow the simple steps above, installing French doors in your home will be a snap.

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