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Internal French Doors: A Fitting Guide

Whilst fitting external French doors is a rather daunting task that should only be undertaken by someone with serious DIY knowledge and a thorough understanding of the structural integrity of their home, installing French doors internally is not quite as complicated. It is, of course, also not as common, as French doors are typically installed as gateways to a home's exterior, either as patio doors or as doors leading out to a garden or conservatory. They can, however, bring fresh life to your home if they are used cleverly indoors in order to cordon off extra rooms and spaces without losing any natural light. Here, we'll take you through the basic steps required to install, remove, replace and/or adjust interior French doors in an easy-to-follow manner.

How To Install Internal French Doors

Here, we'll explain how internal French doors are fitted. This step-by-step guide can be adjusted to suit your home's unique requirements, so don't be afraid to go off-page if you feel something we've included doesn't relate to your doors or your home.

  • Tools you'll need: Drill, Saw, Screwdriver, Hammer, Screws and Nails, Shim and Pry Bar, Chisel, Tape Measure, Set Square, Level, Safety Glasses. You'll also, of course, need the French door kit itself, which should consist of a frame, doors and doorknobs.

  • If there is an old door frame in place, remove it by using your hammer and pry bar, but be careful not to damage the trim! If you are happy to use the existing frame, simply take down

  • Make sure that the opening you'll be using to install the doors is perfectly square using (you guessed it) the set square and level. This might not seem like the most important step, but it really is deceptively vital, as a perfectly square opening will make the rest of the job that much easier. Make sure you measure your opening before buying your doors, as the size of the opening will determine whether or not you'll need to have your doors made to measure.

  • Install the new frame using the shims to hold it in place, testing it to make sure it fits in smoothly without much force.  Next, slot the doors in without hanging them and make sure they open and close smoothly, and if everything seems in order, screw the frame into the opening. Here, you'll want to defer to the instructions that should come with your kit.

  • The next step is simply to hang the doors themselves using the kit provided, as well as any accompanying hardware. Hanging doors is very much an art that you'll need to take your time with. First, you'll need to fit the hinges, then hang the doors themselves on said hinges. In many cases, the hinges will already be attached to the door frame.

  • After the doors have been installed, you should seal all the joints with caulking. If you want to paint your french doors, you're better off doing it before you hang them. Also, remember to let them dry first!

How To Remove & Replace Interior French Doors

Removing your French Doors – Whilst you might be installing French doors for the first time, it's also just as likely that you'll be replacing a pair that might have lost their lustre. Thankfully, when it comes to removing interior French doors, the job itself doesn't require that much mechanical skill, just time and patience. First, remove the hinges with a screwdriver and then move onto the door jamb, starting at the bottom of the doors and moving up, removing the screws attaching the frame to the opening as you got. If the frame is being stubborn, you might need to saw it off, and if the wood has become rotten, the damaged wood will also need to be removed. Next, clean the area to get rid of any lingering debris and place the new frame and doors into the opening using the steps above.

Removing, Repairing and Replacing French Door Glass Panes – This is a much more complicated and tricky process, but if one pane of glass in your internal French doors has been broken or there is condensation between your double glazing, it's something you might want to at least consider. Removing a broken or misted pane is a fiddly job, but it's certainly not impossible. First, take a craft or utility knife and cut along the trim, then pry the trim with a putty knife as far as you can. When you can't pry it any further, use a saw to cut the nails holding the trim in place. Once the trim has been removed you should be able to simply pop out the old glass pane. Measure the old panes and order or cut a replacement pane of the same size. Next, put a small piece of caulk into the setting and place in your new pane of glass. Finally, replace the trim and seal it with more caulk.

Adjusting Interior French Doors

Even though your interior French doors don't actually lead outside, if they are not opening and shutting properly, or are not sealed properly, they can lead to unfortunate drafts. Whilst, if you've installed your doors well, there shouldn't be any immediate problems, a house will start to 'settle' over time and changes in weather and temperature can also lead to the wood of the doors or the door frame warping. This means you'll need to make some adjustments. By design, French doors are not easy to adjust, but it is possible. There was a time when it was an incredibly labour intensive process involving planing doors and drilling new hinge holes, but thankfully, we live in a more enlightened age. Here are a few ways you can adjust your interior French doors without breaking the bank, your house or yourself!

  • Install adjustable hinges that will make your life much easier in the long run. These hinges are designed specifically for French doors and can be adjusted with far greater ease.

  • Remove the original doors and use a level to make sure they line up correctly with the door frame before re-hanging them. This might sound like a simple and obvious fix, but you'd be surprised how many people don't even think of it.

  • If you already have adjustable hinges installed, experiment with them. Your hinges will either have horizontal and vertical adjustment screws or single screws that control both horizontal and vertical positioning. Adjust vertical to raise or lower the door and horizontal to push the door outward or inward. Adjust until both doors swing freely and the gap at the top and bottom is comparable.

Conclusion

We hope this brief guide has been of some assistance and that you are now enjoying your new internal French doors. If you're still having trouble, there is no shame in hiring a professional to finish the job, but we believe in you! Keep at it, and remember to always make a note of every measurement and always wear your safety glasses!