How to Create a Folding Door

Folding doors are great solutions for tight spaces that require a small door footprint.

Because they fold against one another, have a smaller width and stack vertically, the doors do not block a person's path in the same manner a full-sized, open door would. Beyond creating the appropriate design or look for the door panels, folding doors must be sized properly and fit a particular installation process to work well for a long period of time.

Measure the width and height of the opening where the doors will be installed, and divide the total in two different ways, first by 2 and then by 4. As an example, a 36-inch wide opening would have two 18-inch panels or four 9-inch panels.

Subtract each of these measurements by 1/4 inch to allow for hinges and hardware. Using the example again, you would need two 17.75-inch panels or four 8.75-inch panels. Also, subtract 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the overall height, depending upon the type of track hardware being used. Additional height adjustments may be required if there are floor height changes at the opening.

Decide which size and number of panels to use. The track hardware is the same for each, but the number of hinges and work creating the panels doubles with four. Either one can work, depending upon the size of the opening. Typically, a door panel width more than 12 inches becomes cumbersome to pull across a track. So, for our example we would use four panels that hinge together to make two doors.

Figure the amount of hardware needed. A typical folding door, around 6 to 7 feet tall, will need three hinges between each panel. In our example we would need six hinges total.

Purchase a folding door track hardware kit from the local home store or hardware store. The kit should contain all the rest of the hardware needed to complete a folding door installation. Note that some folding door kits include a full bottom track and some do not. Heavily used doors will benefit from a full floor track.

Purchase the panels required. They can be purchased premade at a home store (usually unfinished and requiring several coats of paint) or be a recycled or artistic endeavor. The easiest decorative panels to make are created by purchasing a pair of smooth panel doors and painting or decorating them to fit the décor of the room.

Follow the directions contained in the folding door hardware kit. Attach the upper track, bottom jamb bracket and pivots as per the instructions.

Attach the hinges between the pairs of panels. Pairs of folding doors fold out. The top hinge should start about 4 inches from the top of the panel and the bottom hinge about 4 inches from the bottom of the panel. A third hinge should be centered between the other two.

Insert the pivots into the doors, insert the doors onto the top track and place the end panels into the hardware. Follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Folding door hardware kit
  • Hinges
  • Door panels
  • Electric drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer

Tip

  • The doors need to be lightweight to move easily across the top track. Reusing old or antique hinges or purchasing new ones can add a decorative flair to the doors if viewed from both sides. Additional door knobs or pulls may be required. Use two pieces of cardboard and create a folding door model to understand the hinging if you need to. It is better to cut less than more from a panel when adjusting heights and widths. You can always shave off more, but you cannot put back what you have removed.

Warning

  • The top and bottom tracks are there to guide the doors. They have nothing to do with supporting the doors. Therefore, adding heavy door panels can cause the track to malfunction or be permanently damaged.

About the Author

Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.