Step by Step Installation of Cafe Doors

Many small hones, especially apartment areas are limited with their size. One way to give a home owner a sense of a private area yet still be able to see what else is going on in the kitchen area is by using cafe doors. Cafe doors are usually used when a larger door takes up too much space. They are very similar to the old type of doors that were used in the “old west saloons.” Cafe doors can usually be purchased at any mill work store. You can also find them at specialty stores as well as Lowe’s or Home Depot. Cafe doors in the old west were set up so they blocked eye level looking into their establishment. This was especially helpful with bars (saloons) that wanted to keep affairs going on semi private.

Measure the distance across your door way. This measurement will tell you how wide the doors need to be together to cover the open area. Now determine where you want your doors to rest. Measure from the floor level up and place a mark on the door frame with your carpenters pencil. That mark will determine the bottom of the door or maybe the bottom hinge. Can you measure from the top of the door frame down? Sure you can. However, sometimes the top of a door frame might be uneven. If you measure from the top down, check first to be sure it is level (even). You can use a tape measure or a level to check this out. If you measure down from the top, be sure you measure to where the first hinge will be mounted. *** Be sure you do both doors the same way.*** The marks should be identical on both the left and right door frames.

Installing Cafe doors is not very hard to do. This step by step process will easily explain how to do it. First, get all the materials that you will need including tools. You will need a tape measure, carpenters pencil, cordless drill/screwdriver, and maybe a level. Once you get all your materials together, prep your work area. If you need to paint the woodwork of the door frame, do so before mounting your Cafe doors. Remove any loose nails, screws, staples or chipped wood that might be hanging out. If there are holes, fill them in with wood putty. Don’t wait till your doors are up and then decide to do this. If it means prepping the area a few days ahead of time do it. Now if you have to paint the area, do it and let it dry well. Usually 24 hours is more than enough for this.

Cafe doors uses gravity to close automatically. They swing shut. Attach the gravity hinges to the door. A chart should come with the door to tell you where and how to put these gravity hinges. If not a chart, then directions. They are basically brackets. How they swing is determined by door thickness, size, and doorway size.

Use a drill bit that is smaller than your wood screw that goes both into the door and the door frame. This makes it easier to put in a screw and it will also take a stronger hold. You only need to go between one half and two thirds the length of the screw you are putting in with your drill bit. Some go just enough to get the screw started. Always start with the top hinge first on each door and proceed to the bottom hinge. This helps to keep the heavy part of the doors weight from warping the door or hinge that is on the bottom.

Now match up the hinges on the door with those mounted on the frame. If they don’t match up, switch the hinges on the frame not the door. Hang the Cafe doors by matching the gravity hinges up with each other. There you have it. It is good to have between One half inch to about three quarters of an inch between them. You don’t want them to hit each other as they swing freely back and forth.

It is possible to find different doors with various designs. Some doors are solid because they are small to begin with. I have seen some pretty elaborate doors with stained glass in them. Sometimes you can get unfinished doors and stain them to match the woodwork in your room or house.

One good thing about Cafe doors is that they can swing both ways. This is great for the traffic that you have going back and forth. You often see these types of doors in fancy restaurants. The traffic is so heavy going back and forth that they are needed for the servers.


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