How to Frame and Install Interior French Doors

Framing and installing an interior French door is not quite simple, but not impossible. A little work, care and patience will lead to a beautiful door.

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A French door, which is occasionally known as a French window, is basically, a door made up of glass panels. While French doors can be sometimes functional, they are usually, used for aesthetic effects. They are great and make a dramatic effect when they connect two distinct areas such as outdoor and indoor living, kitchen and patio or kitchen and dining area. In fact, a French door is a versatile door. A pair or perhaps many French door pairs are sometimes, used to give an open feeling.

Interior French Door Characteristics

A French door is practically, a couple of doors hinged to their opposing jambs, which swing out from the center of the doorway.

French doors come in a wide range of styles but all have something in common. They are usually wooden doors and can be finished in a way that match your surrounding trim work.

Tools & Materials

Circular Saw; Reciprocating Saw; Saw Horses; 4-foot Level; Framing Hammer;
Framing Square; Tape Measure; Wood Clamps, 4-foot Level;
2×4 Lumber; 1/4” Plywood, Wooden Shims, Joint Compound;
–  #16 Galvanized Framing Nails; #10Nails, Trim Kit or Casing;

Framing a French Door

First phase toward a successful installation of a French door is creating a square, correctly sized framework. Make sure the opening in this framework will be at least one-inch wider and about ½-inch taller than the jamb frame of the prehung unit.

However, if you want to be sure your opening is sized properly, buy your French door prior to constructing the framework.

Steps to Take:

1| Take 2 pieces of 2×4 stock. Measure and then mark the length on them. Using a circular saw cut each lumber piece to size. These two pieces will be the frame’s bottom and top plates.

2| Lay the bottom and top plates on the room floor with their ends flush and their sides jointly. Next step is to measure the width of your door unit and to mark its layout opening on the plates.

3| Measure a ½-inch on the both plates, beyond their ends. This extra space will help you to position, plumb and shim your door correctly into its place.

4| Mark the bottom and top plates for the king and jack studs. Door’s jambs are supported by the jack studs and king studs will strengthen these jack studs.

– Measure and mark your both plates for the jack studs – 2-inches further than opening marks;
– Measure and mark your both plates for the king studs -4-inches further than opening marks;

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5| Position the remaining walls studs on your top and bottom plates. Start from the king stud center and space the middle of all studs every 16-inches.

6| Your wall studs will run between the floor and ceiling minus the heights of the bottom and the top plates. In fact, you need the distance between these two plates. However, cut your king studs a little longer than this distance.

7| The length of the jack studs has to be equal to the opening height less 11/2 inches (for your bottom plate).

8| First you need to secure your king studs to their corresponding marks on the bottom and top plates, using #10 nails.

9| Secure your jack studs only, to the bottom plate using #10 nails, then nail them to the king studs using the same #10 nails.

10| Next step is to install all the remaining wall studs. Nail these wall studs from the bottom and top plates.

11| You need now to measure and then cut the opening header. Your header will be made of 2×4 lumber and will lie on the top of the jack studs between the king studs.

Using #10 nails nail your header into its place between the king studs.

12| Measure the distance between header and the top plate and cut a little piece of stud (cripple stud). Its role is to transfer the load (structural load) to your header. The cripple stud has to be positioned in the middle of the header. Nail it with #10 nails.

13| Lift your framework into its place. Using a level (4-foot level) make sure the framework is plumb.  Clamp your level to it when you tap the frame into position.

14| Anchor and secure the framework to the floor and ceiling with #16 nails. Drive the nails through the bottom and top plates. However, do not nail bottom plate section between the two jack studs.

Using a reciprocating saw cut off your bottom plate between the two jack studs.

15| Slide your French door into the opening with its bottom first. Try to locate the center of the unit in the opening. Place wooden shims between the studs and jambs and behind the door hinges. Level the door unit.

16| Secure the doorframe with screws or nails every 8 inches. Your screws or nails should be long enough to go through the jamb and the stud too. Also, it is a good idea to nail the wooden shims too.

17| The next step is the installation of casing or trim kit to cover all the imperfections and gasps along jambs.

18| Patch the drywall around your opening with joint compound and apply a coat of paint.