French doors are a classic means of dividing the interior of a house while still maintaining that all-important sense of space. They come in pairs, and come with sizeable glass panels which let a considerable amount of light pass from one room to another. They’ve been around for almost as long as glass has been popular, and during those few centuries they’ve come a long way. If you’re in search of a means of dividing you property while still maintaining a sense of space, then the French option is a classic and stylish one.
But in order to get the best out of a set of French doors, you’ll need to ensure that they’re properly installed. Excepting a few special circumstances, which we’ll touch upon later, this is a job that you can do yourself without too much trouble. While the vast majority of the doors we sell here at Aspire come with their own fitting instructions, there are general points that should be considered before installing any sort of French door. Let’s run through them.
Before considering how we might install internal doors, it’s worth first considering where in the house they might be most effective. Of course, this consideration will be influenced by the layout of your house – while a living room might be said to benefit from the impression of extra space more than, say, a bathroom, it’s also worth bearing in mind how the door will look from the other side – since, after all, a door will have a visual impact on two rooms rather than just one. If you’re installing internal French doors into an area where privacy is crucial, then you’ll want to be sure that your doors come with frosted or otherwise semi-opaque glass.
Before setting out to install your doors, you’ll need to assemble a few tools. These might include:
As we’ve mentioned, the instructions which come with your door should have a complete list of what’s required – but the above items are overwhelmingly likely to feature.
Finally, we come to the challenge of actually installing your door. Of course, in order to do this you’ll first need to remove the old one – including the frame. Do this by prying the elements of the frame away one by one – being careful that you don’t damage the trim in the process.
Next we come to a step that many are tempted to skip. Using a tape measure and spirit level, ensure that your opening is as square as possible. If it isn’t, then you might need to make adjustments to the door itself in order to ensure a proper fit. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to perform the installation far more smoothly. Don’t succumb to temptation and skip this step – as it only takes a little bit of time and effort, and can potentially save you a lot of both in the long run.
Now you’re ready to install a new frame. Do so using shims to hold it in place as you go along. Once you’ve tested the new doors to see whether they’ll fit into the frame, screw the frame into place and remove the shims. This may take several attempts, but it’s worth it once you’ve gotten every angle perfect. A door that isn’t quite level might work adequately when you first get into place, but this state of affairs is unlikely to last for very long – especially after the door has been exposed to a few winters. The stately beauty of a set of French doors is likely to be undermined if they grind against the floor every time they’re opened – so be sure to get this stage right at the first time of asking!
Once you’ve finished, you should be looking at an almost-completed door. Before giving yourself a pat on the back, however, you’ll want to install your accessories – after all, a door without a handle that looks the part won’t be up to much. You’ll find lever-style handles and doorknobs in a range of shapes and sizes amongst our catalogue – pick out the ones that fit best.
If you’re planning on installing a French door into a wall where there isn’t already a suitable hole, then you’ll need to first establish whether or not it’s load-bearing. The last thing you want while installing a new door is for the ceiling to collapse – as repairing such damage will likely be far more expensive than the cost of hiring a professional to carry out the installation in the first place. You should consult a professional for this if you are in any doubt whatsoever.
If you’re cutting through a load-bearing wall, you’ll want to make use of temporary props and cripple studs. Cripple studs are wooden blocks placed at the top of the door frame, in order to help it hold the ceiling up. They’ll ensure that this potential weak-point is re-enforced as much as possible.
While it’s possible to create a small opening (of less than around 3’) without the aid of any temporary supports, it’s best to err on the side of caution. However large your opening, you’ll need to install a header. In most cases, this will be made from concrete or metal – though the precise strength and size of the header will depend on the wall it’s being installed into. Before proceeding, it’s wise to seek the advice of a structural engineer.
By the same token, unless you’ve considerable expertise and experience to draw upon, you’ll need to enlist the aid of a professional to install your door into a concrete wall – as this will hugely reduce the likelihood of something going wrong, as well as reducing the stress involved when it does!
Now you know how to hang French doors. Remember, you may want to seek help from a professional, particularly when opting for a tricky install. If you need any buying advice to find the perfect door for you, please contact us today or use our handy product finder.
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