In my last two room makeovers, one of the biggest and most dramatic changes I’ve made is to replace the old sliding closet doors with regular hinged doors.
The old doors weren’t horrible doors — at least they had a colonial look. But sliding doors are a little awkward to use and mine kept coming off the tracks. I love closet doors that open wide, it’s so easy to see what’s inside. Plus, if you need to keep something large like a desk or something wide, it’s a much more efficient use of space.
In my basement, the original home owners added sliding doors because they were cheaper than traditional ones. But I have found that my daughter is able to use her closet much more efficiently now that her closet doors both open. And, I’m right in the middle of a BIG guest room remodel and I decided to do the same thing in there.
(an example of sliding doors, not my exact doors. I couldn’t find a before of the doors)
I searched the Internet for any helpful tips about this, and came up with nothing. So instead, I consulted my handy father-in-law, who, once I’d consulted him, consented to make it happen.
So, here’s how YOU can do the same thing!
It’s not very hard, but it will take some patience and power tools.
Here’s what you’ll need to buy/use:
- Drill/power drill, various bits
- Hinges (2 per door, 4 total)
- Ball Catch (1 per door, 2 total) (this is the little spring-loaded ball thing at the top of the door that holds it closed, like this one from Lowe’s)
- Dummy doorknob (1 per door, 2 total) (this is a door knob that just fits on the outside of the door; it doesn’t actually turn. Like this one.)
- Slab doors (not pre-hung — I used these from Lowe’s.)
- A butt marker to mark where you’ll want the hinges. Yes, it’s called a butt marker. (Make sure you buy the right size to match your hinges — 3 1/2″ or 4″.)
I can’t cover every detail, but I can outline what I did and provide a few tips.
0. Before you start, make sure your door frame is square or close to it. If it’s wildly off from square, it might be more pain than it’s worth to try this project. Go buy some shoes instead.
1. remove the old doors and the old closet track and any extra molding inside the door frame
1a. prep the top of the door to accommodate the new doors. Once I took out the old molding, I had to put in a “filler piece” to lower the top of the doorframe to be level with the door molding at the top. I used a thin piece of 1×4, cut to fit the door and screwed into the top of the door frame. I then put a small 1/2″ x 1″ stop to keep the doors from swinging into the closet. I did mine the entire length of the door, but you could do yours only a few inches in the center if you prefer.
2. measure the opening and make sure you have the right size “normal” doors, trimming them as necessary
I had to trim both doors by 5/8″ on each long side with a table saw
3. Mark where you’re going to put the hinges on the doors with a pencil (you can use another door in the room as a model), and then mark where you’re going to put the hinges on the doorframes with the butt marker and a hammer. Important: leave 1/8″ or so clearance at the top of the frame so you can put in the ball catch (below)
4. With the hammer and chisel (and maybe a utility knife), carefully hollow out hinge cutouts on the door frame
5. Mark where you’re going to put the ball catches on the top of each door (remember the catches will be in the middle, so treat the doors as a left-hand and right-hand doors), and chisel a shallow, rectangular space on the top of each door accordingly so the plate will sit flush. Using the appropriately-sized drill bit, drill a hole to accommodate the tube of the ball catch.
6. Attach the hinges to the doors and then hang the doors on the frames.
*here’s where it gets tricky. You may have to adjust the doors up or down a bit so they are the same height — so put the screws in the hinges loosely to start.
*when you’re all done, you can adjust the doors to hang straight in two ways:
1. planing the doors to keep them from dragging, or
2. using thin shims behind the hinges. For example, if there’s too much space between the doors at the bottom, you can shim either or both of the bottom hinges by putting thin shims (thin pieces of wood) behind the doorframe side of the hinge. We used some leftover washers instead of shims.
7. Mark where the ball catch plate will go on the top of the doorframe, and then whip out that chisel again so the plate will sit flush at the top of the doorframe. Install it and cross your fingers. If the ball catch doesn’t stay caught, open the door and adjust the ball catch up or down. The cylinder in the ball catch is adjustable either up or down so you can get the tension just right. (All the ones I’ve used I can adjust with a coin while they’re installed in the door.)
8. Then install a piece of wood across the back of the closet opening to keep the doors from being pushed inwards. This keeps the doors straight.
9. Now you can paint the doors a nicer color than the default primer. In our experience, the doors will suck up the paint even if they’re pre-primed, so plan on a couple of coats.
10. Mark the location of and install your dummy doorknobs so they’ll hang evenly once you’ve got your doors hung and balanced the way you like them.
I love the look of the new doors.
And I am almost done with the guest room!!
I am SO excited to share it with you soon!!
Have a Beautiful Day!!!