How to Install Internal Bifold Doors
Bifold doors make a great way of bridging a patio and an interior – but they can also be deployed internally as room-dividers. In this context, they function as temporary walls between two rooms inside your home. You might, for example, bridge a kitchen and a dining area; or you might partition a dining area and a lounge. When the door is open, you’ll have a large, seamless, open space. When it’s closed, you’ll still get the benefit of natural light spreading through your interior.
But a bifold door is a complex machine, and it requires a little bit of planning and expertise to get it into position and working properly. In this guide, we’ll take you through the process of how to fit a new set of bifold doors – including how to remove the ones you’ve already got.
Who Can Fit Bifold Doors?
If you’re looking to save money on the cost of interior bifold doors, then the idea of fitting your internal bifold doors yourself might be attractive. You don’t need any special expertise or qualifications to do so: just the right tools, a little bit of patience, and the help of a willing volunteer (bifold doors are pretty heavy).
Are bi-fold doors easy to install? For some of us, the answer is a definite yes! For others, however, the hassle of getting the door installed might be unpalatable. Perhaps you don’t feel confident in your skills. Perhaps the job is more complicated because you’re installing a new frame. Perhaps you’d just like the peace of mind that comes with a professional installation. Whatever your reasons for bringing in outside help, be sure to contact an experienced contractor with a proven history in this sort of installation. You don’t, after all, want them learning on the job. While this might incur a slightly larger final bill, it’ll work out even more expensive if you have to correct mistakes made the first time around.
How to Remove Internal Bifold Doors
In many cases, we’ll need to get an existing set of bifold doors out of the way before we can think about installing new ones. In the case of internal bifold doors, we’re at a slight advantage, as we’ll be able to get rid of the door without leaving any gaps in the outer wall of the property. This means you can remove the door one day and install a new one the next.
Even if you’re going to be tossing your old bi-fold doors straight into the skip, it’s worth learning how to take them apart without damaging them. It might be necessary to take the doors down again to maintain and re-finish them, or to adjust the fixing to eliminate alignment problems as the door ages.
First, open the entire door so that you can hold all of the panels together. If you’ve got more than three panels in the door, you might wish to get someone else to hold them in place while you work on their removal.
Removing a set of bi-fold doors requires lifting it up out of its bracket. Do this and pull out the bottom pin attaching the door to the frame. Then lower the door at a slight angle so that the pin doesn’t fall back into the socket. The pin at the top, which attaches to the rail, should then naturally fall away.
Measuring the frame opening
Now is a good time to measure the frame opening. You can do this with a tape measure and a volunteer. You’ll be taking three measurements in each direction: three at the top, middle and bottom of the door; and three at the left, right and centre. Ideally, these measurements are going to be within a few millimetres of one another. If they’re not, then you might need to make adjustments before installing a new one. A discrepancy of more than 10mm is often enough to cause a problem. Bifold doors are made slightly undersized, which allows them to fit into standard openings. If the smallest measurement you take is below the standard, you’ll have a problem getting the door to fit.
Once the actual door has been removed, you’re left with the task of unscrewing the guide rail and pivots. That done, you should be looking at an empty frame that’s ready to accept your new door. If your new door is larger or smaller than the frame can accommodate, then you’ll need to also strip that away in preparation for a replacement. That’s a more complicated job, however, and one that’s beyond the scope of this guide.
How to Hang Internal Bifold Doors
Now that we’ve cleared a space, we’re ready to hang the doors themselves. Given the complexity of a bifold door, this might appear slightly confusing at first. To simplify the process, first assemble the required tools and lay them out. You don’t want to have to whizz down to your local DIY shop midway through the installation.
You’ll need all of the parts listed on the contents pack that came with the door. These typically include screws, tracks, pivots and hinges. You’ll also need:
- A mallet
- A cross-head screwdriver
- A drill with both 2mm and 5mm heads
- A measuring tape
- A pencil
First, we’ll need to measure where our top track is going to go. This should be around 19mm from the front of the door frame. Mark this at various points with a pencil. The position of the track will determine the direction in which the door folds, so make sure you’ve worked this out before you make any permanent changes. Place the guide rail in the gap and mark with pencil where the holes are.
Create pilot holes where you’ve just marked using the pencil. You should then use the 15mm screws that came with your door to secure the track to the top of the frame.
Now it’s time to measure for your pivot bracket, which can either be installed into the floor itself, or into the door frame. In the latter case, your bracket is a metal L-shaped device that should be installed exactly 1980mm beneath the top of the door, and 19mm from the front. For precision, you might want to get hold of a plumb bob that’ll show you exactly where 1980mm straight down from the top is.
You’re now going to slot the pivots into the pre-drilled holes at the top of the door. Do this loosely at first to ensure that they fit, before using a mallet to permanently fix them into position.
The top metal track may contain several carriages, one of which is secured into position by a small screw. Loosen this and you’ll be able to move the carriage along the track. This carriage is designed to remain in the top corner of the door, in line with the pivot bracket at the bottom.
Insert the relevant pins into the carriages, so that the entire door is able to freely slide backwards and forwards. Note that some smaller folding doors might make use of plastic rollers rather than proper sliding carriages.
Insert the bottom pivot into the bracket you’ve installed. You can then screw the top carriage into position, manoeuvring the panel out of the way in order to access the screw. Once the door is assembled, you’ll be able to reposition it by either adjusting this screw, or with the help of the pivot bracket at the bottom of the door.
Bifold Door Installation Tips: Dealing with Different Flooring Types
Bifold doors can be easily installed onto a range of different floor types. Each presents their own unique challenges, however, which are worth bearing in mind.
A thick carpet might inhibit your door’s ability to open and close. If there isn’t enough clearance around the bottom for the door to hover above the fibres, you’ll have problems further down the line.
Laminate and Tiled flooring
If you’re installing a floor-mounted track, then you may need to drill holes into your laminate flooring. You can minimise the damage that results from this by covering the floor in masking tape and using two holes: one of which will go all the way into the subfloor.
Alternatively, you might find yourself an L-shaped bracket that secures to the frame of the door rather than the bottom. This is a solution that also saves you the trouble of drilling into a tiled floor.
As complicated as a bifold might appear at first glance, there’s no reason that you can’t get yours into position yourself and save a great deal of money in the process. When installing, it’s important to study the instructions that came with your door and to check you have the necessary components to hand before you begin. Measure your door carefully before proceeding, and you’ll save yourself considerable hassle in the long-run.
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