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Installing Closet Doors

Get the most out of your closet by deciding what doors will best suit your closet needs. Here are some tips to get you started…

Posted in Closets over 15 years ago, 0 replies

Unless you have a knack for keeping only the bare essentials and chucking the excess, you need a closet. The simple fact is, the longer we dwell in a space the more stuff we accrue. From overfed closets housing everything from grandmother's quilt to junior's baby blanket that he hasn't used since he left for college, to a basement closet crammed with all the previous used electronics and furniture that we upgraded long ago-we can accumulate clutter easily, and seemingly without notice. This eats up our valuable storage space.

The trick to getting your home and storage space back is to purge the unnecessary junk from your closets. After you have cleared out the clutter and junk, you need to utilize your newfound closet space. And there is just no better way to start utilizing your closet space than finding the perfect closet doors to install.

Swinging Closet Doors

Swinging closet doors are the traditional doors that hang on two hinges. They give you entrance into and out of almost every room of the house. Swinging doors open by swinging inward or outward, and they are also probably your best bet to use if you have walk-in closets. But any closet can utilize swinging doors. Plus, you aren't limited to using a single door unit for your closet door. You can spice up the decor a bit by installing a pair of French doors as the doors that lead into your closets. These doors are a great idea for bathroom storage since they don't require as much space to open and close.

Installing Swinging Closet Doors

To install swinging closet doors, it is best that you follow your specified door manufacturer instructions. But a rule to remember: if are replacing an old closet door with a new prehung door, make sure that you allow extra room to adjust and plumb the new door. Leaving the closet door opening at least 2 inches wider and 1 inch taller than the new door dimensions should provide the adequate amount of room. Prehung door installation shouldn't be too difficult.

If you are only replacing the closet door, however, and leaving the doorframe, your project may prove to be more challenging. The reason is, you will have to be precise in your measurements and be sure that your new door is the exactly the same size as the old one. This can be tricky stuff for a beginner.

Sliding Closet Doors

Sliding doors are popular choices for closets. That's because your room isn't encumbered by a swinging door taking up floor and wall space on either side of the closet. For example, when you have a swinging closet door that opens outward, you probably won't be able to put that five-drawer dresser right next to the door, or you'll have to contend with hitting the dresser every time you open the closet door. If your door opens inward, you'll have to close yourself inside the closet just to reach the items you've stored behind the door. Or, you'll probably not bother to store items there at all and lose out on the storage space.

This is where sliding doors come in! Imagine putting a floor-to-ceiling closet unit in your bedroom to provide that contemporary, sleek look you always wanted. And you can apply mirrors to the front panels of the doors, which means you'll have a couple of full-length mirrors as well as a decor element that gives the impression of your room space being bigger than it actually is.
However, there are downsides to the sliding doors. For one, they can be pretty expensive. This is because sliding doors weigh more than the average door, which means they are harder to move along the track. Plus, because both sliding doors cannot be opened at the same time (that's why these doors can also be called bypass doors), you will never truly have full access to your closet.

But I'm sure that is only a slight inconvenience, right? Eh, maybe not. The good news is many sliding closet doors are being installed on a different track system nowadays, allowing both doors to slide freely and give you better access to your closet.

Installing Sliding Closet Doors

1. If you are installing unfinished doors, apply the finish before you hang them.

2. Next, remove the old doors. You can usually do this by simply lifting them out of their brackets (tracks). Most doors simply ride in the overhead bracket. Then using a drill and screwdriver bit, remove the screws from the top and bottom brackets.

3. Measure the new upper bracket against the old one for length then install it. Next, hang the doors-back part of the sliding door first then the front part. Let the doors fall into the center of the bottom bracket. Now, remove the doors.

4. Take a pencil and lightly mark the position of the bottom bracket on the doorjamb. Remove the bottom bracket. Pre-drill the holes for the installation of the bottom bracket.

5. Attach bottom bracket with mounting screws. Re-hang the doors, back door first.

Bi-Fold Closet Doors

To solve the problem that sliding doors pose, that of allowing access to only one side of the closet at a time, use Bi-fold closet doors. Unlike sliding doors, bi-fold doors grant access to the entire closet. Bi-fold doors are two doors hinged together so that they fold up when slid open. When open, the doors look like to a closed book. When closed, the doors look like an open book. Got it?

When you choose bi-fold closet doors, find ones that have some weight and a good quality sliding unit that permits the doors to slide easily. Bi-fold doors come in an array of styles, including plain, raised-panel, louvered and mirrored varieties.

Installing Bi-fold Closet Doors

1. Install the top track first.

2. If your bi-fold door uses a bottom track, install the bottom track on the floor diametrically under the top track.

3. Next, take one door and set its bottom pivot into the bottom track.

4. The top half of the door should have a spring-loaded pivot. Push in that pivot; arrange the top half of the door directly under the top track. Release pivot. The door should snap into place. Repeat with other door.

5. Adjust the track sockets to make sure both doors are at an equal height. The measurement of your door will be affected with plush carpeting. To compensate for this fact, you may want to wedge a wooden shim beneath the bottom track.

6. Fine-tune the space in the middle of the doors to keep a consistent gap between them.

Pocket Doors

Homeowners with no space to spare in their rooms should consider installing pocket doors. Pocket doors are wonderful for many reasons, but a major one is that when opened they completely disappear. They are doors mounted on rollers that glide along on overhead rails into a pocket within the wall. This truly permits full access to the closet's interior.

Installing Pocket Doors

Use the door manufacturer's instructions to install the frame the doorway opening, but here are things to know:

1. For the pocket door, make the header twice as wide to support the weight of the door as it moves. Leave a 3/16-inch clearance between jambs and door to allow for possible door warping over time. The clearance you leave now will insure that the jambs won't bind later.

2. Affix the split studs, which perform the same role as normal wall studs but are hollow in the center to permit the pocket door to slide into.


Dear Closet Person,

I am writing because I don't know what to do.  I am not that handy.  I have purchased a home with a closet with 4 raised panel doors (very, very nice solid doors) (bypass doors) the previous owner only had them riding in a track from above - not below.  The other problem is that the doors are so nice that they never put any hardware (knobs etc.) on the outside of the doors.  Of course when you are not using the doors they look very nice.  When you want to open the doors it is quite difficult - you are tempted to keep the doors open just a little bit so you can reach your finger in and open the closet  properly and easily.

I wanted to purchase the handles that are on my glass mirrored sliding closet doors. (you've probably seen them they are attached with 2 screws)  They do not protrude very far (so that they won't interfere with the other doors) and I am hoping that when I screw them on they will look like they belong there (they are metal) and not draw too much attention to themselves. 

Home depot says they do not sell them and I have gone to a number of hardware stores with no luck.  Tomorrow 11-27-06 I will go to a glass and mirror company in hopes that they have extra handles just hanging around that they will sell to me.

The salesperson in Home Depot also said that there must be a factory that makes all these handles and sells them to mirror closet door salesmen. 

I don't know - I was searching around the internet and found your spot - (I didn't even know I had bypass doors until I read your piece on closets).  My closet doors can definately bypass each other and that is why I can't have regular hardware on the doors. 

PS I don't know how to put in the recessed flush circular "brass" hardware you usually see with closet doors - I don't have the money to have a guy come in and do all 8 closet doors in the house.  Although, what do you think it would cost to have someone come in and take care of a job like that?

Thanks for reading my email if I don't hear back from you I'll understand - I just though you might have some advice for me.






How to Fix Sliding Closet Doors

This article is somewhat helpful, but does not fully address my problem.  I've already had new sliding closet doors installed, but the doors are rubbing against one another, which is scratching the paint on the innermost door.  Since someone else installed the doors, I don't have whatever instructions may have come with them.  I wish that you would have an article explaining what to do if someone runs into problems installing new or repairing existing sliding closet doors.


I just had bi-fold mirrored closet doors installed but the spring loaded pivot keeps coming off the track. How do I adjust the spring loaded pivot from the bottom of the door or do I make the pivot higher?


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