Turning a bifold door into French doors is a simple way to update your closet door, taking it from boring to brand new! Using simple bifold hardware, I’ll show you the steps we followed so you can try something similar.
When we got possession of our house, the room that would become my craft room had two small closets. The chimney runs up in between them. Both closets had typical six-panel faux woodgrain bifold doors on them. They also had impractical shelves, and one closet door was broken at the hinges.
As it turned out, the right wall of the right closet was out of level by 0.75 inches from the top to the bottom. We knew that this was the cause of the broken door, and that it would be difficult to ever install a door correctly. The wonky closet wall also blocked light and closed off the entrance to the room. Hardwood was due to be installed upstairs before we moved in and we needed a plan for this closet. It was an easy decision to make. We ripped that closet out completely.
This was the first real demolition that I’d ever done and using a mini sledgehammer was fun! Once the walls of that closet were removed, our painter (who was removing our stippled ceilings before painting) patched the ceiling hole.
Personally, I dislike bifold doors, especially faux woodgrain ones. So we also removed the remaining door from the good closet and donated it.
Fast forward a year and a half, and we were finally ready to begin working on my craft room makeover.
The room needed drywall patching, priming, painting, and baseboards – in addition to the closet door.
Thanks to the patience and hard work of my husband, he did a beautiful and meticulous job on patching the drywall and painting the room in his spare time. Then it was time for all mouldings and closet door.
And here we are today! After turning a bifold door into double doors and installing baseboards, the whole room has been transformed. But this wall in particular is the most dramatic before and after. It’s fun to look back through the progression of photos and see where we started.
Another simple DIY project you might like is How to Paint a Stacked Stone Fireplace.
Keep reading to find out how we updated our boring bifold door.
Closet options for that space
Our closet is unique in that it doesn’t have a door frame/jamb. That limited our choices for a closet door.
The opening is 36″ x 80″ with many deviations from level throughout. I knew that I didn’t want a single 36″ width door. It would open too wide, and I needed to put furniture closer to the closet than that.
I also knew I wanted something more substantial than a curtain. But I definitely didn’t want to put a typical bifold door back in. I recalled that in a previous apartment we lived in, the hall closet had a set of narrow pivoting doors. This seemed like it would be the ideal solution.
Because the closet does not have a jamb, hinges were going to be a challenge. The closet also begins flush with the left wall, further making space for hinges difficult. We could have built a jamb, but I decided that we needed the maximum opening space to get into the closet.
Most online tutorials for turning a bifold into two French doors use hinges. Since we couldn’t use them, we decided to use bifold hardware! (Side note – I’m not even sure that calling them French doors makes sense since they don’t have glass. But the internet seems to call any set of double doors, French doors)
How to Turn a Bifold Door into French Doors
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Bifold doors and hardware
Since each closet frame is different, this is not intended as a true step-by-step tutorial for every situation. But I’ve tried my best to document the steps we took to install our double doors.
If you already have an existing bifold closet door on your closet that you want to transform into double doors, that’s great! You already know it fits. As well, you’ll already have one set of hardware and the bifold track. But you’ll also need a second set of bifold hardware and another top bracket. Simply remove your doors and the track to begin.
Since we didn’t have a door to fit our opening of 36 x 80 inches, we ordered this bifold door from Lowes. The door is part of Metrie’s Logan collection of 2 panel doors, and is made of MDF. It came with a 36 inch track and one set of bifold hardware. We still needed another set of bifold hardware (often listed as a bifold repair kit).
Steps we took to turn our bifold door into French doors
Prepare the doors
First, lay your bifold door out on sawhorses or the floor and remove the hinges. Now you have already turned your bifold door into French doors!
Next, tap in the bottom pins into the outside bottom edges of both door sections.
Then tap the top pins into the outside top holes of both door sections.
Prepare the track
Slide both top brackets into the bifold track, one on either end. Again, I think you’ll need to remove an existing track from the door frame in order to add the second bracket.
Because we have no door frame, we needed to figure out where to place the track. I wanted a tiny space in front of the track to eventually add a piece of trim to hide it. So I measured half the depth of the track (to where the centre of the screw holes would be), added 1/4 inch for a trim piece to hide the track, and drew a line that far back from the front of the header.
We placed the track over the line so that it was visible through the centre of all the screw holes, and marked them with circles. Next we used screws to attach the track to the header. It is sitting back 1/4 inch from flush with the front of the header so I can put a tiny trim piece in front later. Save any flat headed screws provided for the bottom bracket, and use round headed screws for the track if you need to.
Again, since we didn’t have a door frame, we needed to know the right place to attach the bottom bracket. It couldn’t be too far forward or backward. We made a makeshift plumb line by tying a string through the track bracket’s hole, and tying a washer to the bottom end. When it stopped swinging, we centred the bottom bracket under it, and then screwed it first only to the wall with flat headed screws (which ensures the most clearance as the door swings).
Now it’s time for a test fit. After a quick attempt to slot the bifold doors into the brackets (the top pin goes in first), we discovered that they were ever so slightly too tall. Rather than trimming a fraction off the door, my husband decided to try using a large drill bit to drill out space to countersink the bottom pins by a little bit.
Success! We were relieved that worked. We put the doors into their brackets and made some adjustments. The closet opening is quite wonky, so it was hard to get the spacing as even as possibly around them and so they could both still pivot and meet nicely in the middle. Once we were mostly satisfied, we tightened the top brackets into place, and finished screwing the bottom brackets into the hardwood floors.
Then we took the doors back down again. My husband did a bit of sanding and used wood filler on the hinge holes. The interior edges that originally formed the ‘fold’, and were now the opening edges of the double doors, were quite rough. They needed some extra sanding. Use ventilation and wear eye protection and a mask when cutting and sanding MDF!!
Then, we painted them with Behr trim paint in white. I didn’t take any photos of this part of the process. I did fairly thin coats, using a brush on the bevel of the panels to cut in, and a small roller on the rest. After each coat I used a fine sanding block to smooth off any little bumps I could feel. I think I ended up doing 5 coats of paint in all – more than I intended.
Once they were cured we hung them again and further adjusted the fit.
To keep the doors closed and prevent them from swinging inwards, my husband installed a magnetic catch. We had to attach it to a block of painted wood to lower it so it was in contact with the doors.
The doors got matching magnetic plates in their top corners.
Because we have no door frame to naturally end our baseboards, we had to end them with enough clearance so that the doors can still open.
There’s possibly a better way to end this section of baseboard, but we just had it return back on itself.
Pandemic restrictions meant we had to wait until we were able to go to the hardware store in person to get longer screws to install knobs. Finally we were able to add some lovely, heavy, antique brass knobs.
Final transformation of bifold into French doors
And voila! Finished closet doors! The floor is not level, nor is the space between the header and the doors. But the doors are level with each other and the space around them is relatively consistent, so I’m pleased. The final job left outstanding is to add a piece of trim in front of the track, but again we are currently under further restrictions and cannot go to a hardware store. So that will happen some day.
We found an Ikea shelf that fits VERY precisely inside the closet (so precisely that there’s not room for baseboards). And I loaded it up with all my bins of craft supplies. It’s not the neatest thing in the world, but it works for me and I can find things quickly because they’re well sorted. The shelves were adjustable so I’ve even made sure there’s a shallow shelf for my sewing patterns.
Bye-bye bifold! Hello double doors!
Turning a bifold door into French doors is a fairly simple project that doesn’t require a lot of tools to do. This is especially true if you’re using an existing bifold door that you know already fits. You can take a boring, dated bifold door and transform it into beautiful double doors with a bit of paint, and some extra bifold hardware.
Do you have any bifold doors in your house that could benefit from a make-over? Is this a simple project that you would feel confident in taking on? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,