More in Doors

Distinctive Doors

Classy, convenient bifold doors revive an old closet.

Distinctive Doors
1 ×

 

Closet remodeling typically focuses on adding shelving, a second clothes rod, storage drawers, shoe racks and other interior improvements. By taking it one step further — replacing existing closet doors — you can make the closet space more functional and improve the look of the entire room.

The remodeled closet shown here started out like the thousands that still exist in homes built between the mid-1950s and '70s. Its original flush-panel, sliding bypass doors had about as much style and elegance as a velvet painting of dogs playing poker. They also were inconvenient: Only half the closet was accessible from the outside at a time.

Full-Access Upgrade
We replaced these sliding doors with two pairs of bifold doors that look great when closed — and collapse back out of the way when fully opened so the entire closet is accessible. In this case, we chose CraftMaster Natural raised-panel doors because they feature lightweight hollow-core construction and are affordable. The 21/2-ft.-wide bifolds cost about $45 to $50 per pair. The ones shown come prefinished in a light-oak stain. Other widths ranging from 1 1/2 ft. to 6 ft. are also available, as is a darker finish.

This particular type of bifold is known as a molded door. Its raised-panel face is formed out of a single sheet of Masonite to help eliminate excessive cracking, swelling, shrinking and other solid-wood drawbacks. Like most bifolds, it comes with all the necessary hinges and mounting hardware. We improved things here, too, by replacing the standard hardware with 1700 Series Folding Door Hardware from L.E. Johnson Products ($20). It's much stronger and more ruggedly built.

Placing Your Opening
To determine which size doors to order, measure the width of the closet opening, then — and this is very important — subtract 7/8 in. to create clearance space between the doors. Divide by two to come up with the width of each bifold pair. Because closet doors come in set increments, you will order doors that are either slightly too wide and plane them down to fit or a bit too narrow and then reduce the closet opening.

Whether you order too-narrow or too-wide doors, be prepared to do a little fine-tuning; it's unlikely you'll find doors that exactly fit your closet.
Closet remodeling typically focuses on adding shelving, a second clothes rod, storage drawers, shoe racks and other interior improvements. By taking it one step further — replacing existing closet doors — you can make the closet space more functional and improve the look of the entire room.

The remodeled closet shown here started out like the thousands that still exist in homes built between the mid-1950s and '70s. Its original flush-panel, sliding bypass doors had about as much style and elegance as a velvet painting of dogs playing poker. They also were inconvenient: Only half the closet was accessible from the outside at a time.

Full-Access Upgrade
We replaced these sliding doors with two pairs of bifold doors that look great when closed — and collapse back out of the way when fully opened so the entire closet is accessible. In this case, we chose CraftMaster Natural raised-panel doors because they feature lightweight hollow-core construction and are affordable. The 21/2-ft.-wide bifolds cost about $45 to $50 per pair. The ones shown come prefinished in a light-oak stain. Other widths ranging from 1 1/2 ft. to 6 ft. are also available, as is a darker finish.

This particular type of bifold is known as a molded door. Its raised-panel face is formed out of a single sheet of Masonite to help eliminate excessive cracking, swelling, shrinking and other solid-wood drawbacks. Like most bifolds, it comes with all the necessary hinges and mounting hardware. We improved things here, too, by replacing the standard hardware with 1700 Series Folding Door Hardware from L.E. Johnson Products ($20). It's much stronger and more ruggedly built.

Placing Your Opening
To determine which size doors to order, measure the width of the closet opening, then — and this is very important — subtract 7/8 in. to create clearance space between the doors. Divide by two to come up with the width of each bifold pair. Because closet doors come in set increments, you will order doors that are either slightly too wide and plane them down to fit or a bit too narrow and then reduce the closet opening.

Whether you order too-narrow or too-wide doors, be prepared to do a little fine-tuning; it's unlikely you'll find doors that exactly fit your closet.
2 ×

Preparing the Opening

 

Preparing the Opening

Unscrewing the metal door track
Photo by Bob Firth
Unscrew the metal door track from the header after removing the old sliding bypass doors.
Remove the old sliding doors by lifting them off the overhead track. If they don't pop right off, unscrew the roller hardware from the upper, inside surface of each door. Then unscrew the metal door track from the header.

Next, either plane the door edges to fit or reduce the width of the doorway. We narrowed the opening 1 1/2 in. by nailing a 1x4 to each jamb. A 3/4-in. cove molding helps hide the 1x4 filler strips.

Installing the door track to the header is the next step. In most cases, you can screw the metal track directly to the underside of the header. But if the header is trimmed with a valance like the one on this closet, you'll need to install a 2x2 mounting strip. Then drive the screws up through the track and into the 2x2.

With the track in place, fasten an L-shaped jamb bracket to each side jamb. Be sure the center of the bracket aligns precisely with the center of the overhead door track.

Hanging the Doors
Lay the doors facedown on a protected surface and attach the hinges. Each pair of doors requires three hinges. The bifolds are 6 ft., 8 in. tall, which is standard door height. But if there's thick carpeting or ceramic tile on the floor, you might have to trim the doors to length. The easiest way to do this is with a portable circular saw. Be sure to clamp a straight-edge guide in place for best results.

Next, screw a pivot guide to the top and bottom of the two doors that abut the side jambs. Also attach a guide to the top of the two doors that meet in the center. Fold one pair of doors closed, lift it into position and insert the two top pivots into the track. Slip the bottom pivot into the jamb bracket (this job is easier with a helper). Then install the other pair of doors the same way.

Now close both doors and check for equal spacing along each side jamb and down the center. Adjust the pivot points, if needed, to create uniform gaps. Then stand back and admire how much better the whole room looks.

Where to Find It
CraftMaster, Masonite Corp.
1 S. Wacker Dr., Dept. TH1097
Chicago, IL 60606
800-446-1649

L.E. Johnson Products
Box 1126, Dept. TH1097
Elkhart, IN 46515p
800-837-5664
 
 

TV Listings

Find TV Listing for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.