I let this project intimidate me for months but when I finally tried, I was amazed at how easy it is to install a French door yourself.
Oh guys, oh guys, oh guys – so much has been going on over here. Nothing overly exciting – some good things, some bad things, most fairly mundane – but I’m going to share bits with you here and there on the blog because… well, why not?
We all have “stuff” going on; maybe my stuff will make you laugh, or cry, or just feel “seen”.
This is a quickie story… I have a tiny shed in the corner of my yard.
You might remember that last Spring I pressure washed then painted my entire fence black.
What you didn’t see was that I got lazy and didn’t do this corner. The shed was full and I was too pooped out to empty it and finish that little section – I figured no one would see it anyways.
But it bugged me. I call jobs unfinished “nigglies” because they sit in a little section at the back of your mind and nag at you. Well, Bentley had eaten my downspout, there was some flooding underneath the shed and I still had the can of stain in my garage reminding me that it was only about 130 sq ft that was left to finish. I emptied the shed and pulled it out and look what I found!
Fully intact! It got a little roughed up scooping it into a bag to dispose of, but all of the parts of what I think is a raccoon skeleton were in behind!
It was in a spot where the raccoon could have easily escaped under the fence, or back out the side of the shed – so I think he/she was maybe old or ill and went to a quiet spot to die.
I have NEVER seen a “real” skeleton before! This is both horrible and interesting at the same time!
I’ll be honest, I did think my neighbour went a little overkill with the compost last summer – but this certainly explains the stink. I imagine they thought the same about me! 😂
Installing a French door
Alright, alright – the French door is what you came here for right?
My home has a main floor office that opens to my foyer. I have always wanted to swap out the office door from a solid one, to a French door – but time, money, intimidation, etc, etc.
About 4 months ago I picked up a French door at my local home improvement store and put it in the garage with the full intention of installing it myself.
Then I put it off and off and off. I let projects/my mind intimidate me so I set them on a back burner until I’m ready to “do battle”. Battle day was when my friend Sherri came over to install drywall in my laundry room – so I could exploit her expertise and experience on how to actually set up the door for installation.
Step 1 was to remove the old door, hinges and all from the door frame.
Step 2 was to dismantle the existing doorknob and latch from the old door – and take photos so that I remembered how to put it back together. I’m sharing this photo for a very specific reason – keep reading…
Step 3 I was able to take the old door and line it up with the new French door to determine where the hinges were going to be placed. Line them up side by side – chubby section to the bottom of the door and thinner section is the top – then transcribe the notches onto the new door.
Step 4. Set your trim router (or you can use a chisel) to the thickness of your hinges, which is roughly 1/8″. Carefully router out the hinge sections and check for fit.
You’ll note here that there is a very thin section of door left along the edge of where you routered/chiselled. This is the hinge that Sherri did. 😂
I went a bit rowdy with the trim router and ended up cutting that narrow section right off. It’s okay, you can glue a small piece of wood back on, or do what I did and paint over it and hope no one looks in the door crack.
Step 5 Turn the French door to the other side and transcribe the notched area where the latch plate fits and repeat with the router. (I got that one right)
Step 6 Time to drill the hole for your handle. I had the advantage of a licensed contractor here to let me use her special door knob jig and hole saw. After confirming placement of where the door knob would go – because it still has to line up with the latch notch on the outside edge, which has to line up with the latch notch in the door frame – I was ready to drill.
Look at this fancy thing! Drill with a hole saw in from one side, the flip the door and the jig is already in place for a perfectly lined up hole on the other side!
Step 7 Re-hang your French door to make sure that everything is in the proper place – plum, level, flush and all those other words that mean “make sure it fits AND works”.
Now remember that photo above showing the parts that I took out of the old door that were to be reinstalled in this new French door?
If you DON’T follow your own instructions, you might end up with a “leftover” piece. Ummmm… there shouldn’t be any leftover pieces.
This particular leftover piece is necessary in order to turn the doorknob. Without it, the knob won’t turn at all and not even your teenage daughter can get you out by turning it on the other side.
Fortunately, I had tools inside the office so I was able to dismantle the doorknob and rescue myself eventually – all while my kids and friend/contractor laughed hysterically at my expense.
Step 8. Time to sand and paint. This particular French door was primed, but needed a lot of sanding, so I went over it pretty thoroughly with a 320 grit before spraying the entire thing with two coats of white. As it was a new door, it still had all of the protective plastic on all of the panes of glass, so that made everything so much easier. If you don’t have that, you can purchase a paint-on protector (Amazon affiliate link), use painters tape and paper to mask it all off, or paint it all and then use a razor scraper to carefully scrape off the paint. Be sure to score the edges of the glass – by the wood frame – before scraping though or you run the risk of paint peeling off of the wood as well.
I rolled one side of the door and sprayed the other to see how much difference there was in time and effort. If you paint/roll your paint on it takes a lot longer, but you can wash and throw out your tools afterwards for a super-quick clean-up. If you spray your French door, you’ll get a nicer finish, but then there’s the overspray and cleaning out your paint sprayer to contend with. I prefer the look of spray, but no one will ever notice one side is slightly different texture than the other, so don’t feel that you have to invest in a sprayer.
Reinstall your door once dry and then happy dance in all the light now streaming in.
Those are the built-ins that I built myself a couple of years ago, so they are SO worth showing off!
I am no longer sectioned off from the rest of the family, there is more light coming into my foyer and it’s just so darn pretty!
I am going to have to keep my gift wrap rack a bit more organized now that I can’t hide the mess behind the door.
I know I always say this, but “WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?!”
Sure there are errors, but I improved my home with something I really wanted, saved a ton of money doing it myself, and am left with a feeling of pride for having learned a new skill!
So worth it.
Have a great one!