Typically leading out to the patio or backyard, sliding doors or French doors allow plenty of sunlight in while giving you a private view and access to the outdoors. Sliding glass doors are simply designed and perform the basic functions but may be seen as outdated and commonplace. A pair of French doors opens fully to the outdoors and adds charm and elegance to a space. Follow these steps to replace your sliding doors with French doors.
1. Take measurements of your old doors and purchase your French doors.
It is a good idea to purchase your French doors before you begin any work to remove your existing doors, since you may have to wait a couple of weeks or longer for the new doors to arrive. In order to purchase the right size of replacement doors, you will need to measure the height and width of your existing sliding doors. French doors come in standard sizes, so if you take your measurements to any reputable lumber yard or home improvement store, they should be able to order the correct size of a set of pre-hung French doors. If in doubt, you may remove the trim from the outside to obtain the measurements for the rough door opening, without removing the old door. It is best to choose a door with dimensions a quarter inch smaller on each side than the rough opening.
2. Detach your old sliding doors.
Once your new doors have arrived, you can get to work replacing your doors. Pry the existing trim and moldings loose with a hammer. The track and the rest of the sliding door unit will be exposed. Unscrew the nails on the side jambs, the top header, and the bottom track that secure the door panels in place. Pull the fixed panel away from the track and remove, followed by the sliding panel. You may need to pry the fixed door panel out of the side jamb if it is stuck.
3. Remove the rest of the sliding door unit.
Unscrew all the nails holding the jambs, header, and track in place. The unit should easily come loose. The side jambs tend to require more work to remove, and you need to be careful not to damage the wall surrounding the door frame. Starting at the bottom, pry the metal jamb away from the side wall.
4. Place the French doors in the opening and assess the fit.
Do not remove any clips or straps that hold your new doors aligned and closed. Center the door unit in the opening and position it into place. Using a level, assess if the door unit is even and plumb. You may need to get a friend to help you hold the door in place while you use shims to adjust the fit of the door. Start with the top and bottom corners and then behind the hinges, making sure to assess for levelness after each shim.
5. Secure the new doors into place.
Attach the frame of the unit to the opening using three nails for each jamb. Nail any shims into the jambs or the frame. Secure the doors on the hinges, remove the clips or straps attached to the doors, and test out their swinging motion. Fill the cracks between the jamb and frame with insulation. Install the interior casing and exterior molding, and apply caulk along the exterior to seal out drafts. Complete your door replacement by following the manufacturer's finishing instructions.