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Jim Haberman
Adding window and frame to interior door

The 1 3/8 inches thick plastic/composite interior doors in our house are 6-panel. The top door panels are 9 by 8 1/2 inches. I want to add natural light into a couple of bathrooms that have these doors by cutting out the top panels and replacing them with a kit of a translucent window in a vinyl frame.
I have not been able to find this 'retrofit window kit" at the big box stores or at our local hardware store. Do you know of firms that make this retrofit window and frame option? Thanks for your help. We enjoy the show.

A. Spruce
Re: Adding window and frame to interior door

You won't likely find any "kit" for this project. The only thing you might be able to do is find and exterior door with this feature at a retailer, then inquire about replacement glass panels. They may be able to order the glass and frame for you, however, notice that I said "exterior" door, which means the glass panels/frame will be for a 1-3/4" door, not the 1-3/8" door you want to modify. IF you can find replacements they'll also likely be very expensive, as an alternative, you could easily and inexpensively make your own panels.

While you're at the supplier looking for those replacement window panels, walk a couple aisles over to the trim section and see what they've got. All you really need is quarter round stock, but you could combine different moldings to create different effects.

As I mentioned, using quarter round will be the easiest. Cut out the "raised" panel in your door, leaving the beveled edge around the opening. From the back side, use a router and cut a rabbet, removing the beveled area from the back side only. You may have to make a template for the router to follow. You can either cut plexi-glass panels to suit your needs or have glass panels cut at a glass shop. Install the panels with a couple drops of silicone caulk to hold it in place and keep it from rattling. Now install the quarter round on the "free" side of the panel (same side you cut the rabbet in ). A little spackle and paint and you've got yourself a door with lights in it. :cool:

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