How to Repair French Doors

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Repairing French doors probably occurs at least twice as often as repairs to a single door might. With two doors there is twice the chance for the doors not to align. With these simple things to look for it is possible for home owners to enjoy the aesthetic joy of French doors without becoming overwhelmed by repairs.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric drill
  • Sawhorses
  • Drill bits
  • Screw tips
  • Wood chisel and hammer
  • Putty knife
  • Wood putty
  • Wood dough
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Pipe clamps
  • Closely examine the French doors in order to determine where the problem exists. From past experience I have found that there are three potential areas to check, for possible problems. These can be best described as loose hinges, gouges and scrapes in the door or the splitting apart of one or both of the doors.To repair loose hinges there are two ways you can go. The first is to remove the loose screws and replace them with a longer and larger gauge (thicker) screw. This can be as simple as backing out the loose screw with a reversible electric drill and then inserting a bigger screw. You might want to take an appropriate sized drill bit and extend the length of the original hole with an electric drill.

  • If the door or doorjamb is cracked, then you will have to move the hinge to a new place. To do this, first back out all screws and then pull off the hinge. Next move the hinge to a clear spot on the door. The closer it remains to the original placement, the better off you will be. Now, mark the edge of the hinge and the location of the screw holes.

  • Then drill the new holes with an appropriately sized drill bit and then with a wood chisel and hammer cut a new spot for the hinge. Reattach the hinge to the door, and use the other half of the hinge to mark the new location on the jamb. Then repeat the process of pre-drilling the screw locations and chiseling away a slot for the hinge. Re-attach the other half of hinge to the jamb and now your door should swing freely again.

  • Repairing scrapes and gouges is even simpler. First, all you have to do is clean and sand the areas, where the damage has occurred. Now buy some wood putty, the kind that comes in a powder form. Mix with water and make a paste. Then take this paste and fill in the scrapes until they are flush with the surface. If the scrapes are deep, you can use a ready-made wood dough first and then place a finish coat of the wood putty. Make sure the dough is completely dry, before proceeding with the putty. Once everything is dry, then you can apply paint or finish.

  • If the door is coming apart, then you will have to remove the door and set it on a pair of sawhorses. Next take a pair of pipe clamps and tighten them until the door is tight together. If everything appears tight and sound, then you can loosen the clamps and prepare the door for permanent repair. A carpenter’s glue should be applied to any cracks that have opened back up, now the door is not being clamped. Tighten the clamps again and you might also considering inserting some very long, narrow wood screws any place that might help hold the glued door together. Make sure you pre-drill with a drill bit that is the same size as the shank of the screw and then use a countersink to allow the screw to be completely hidden. Also, there are specially made extra-long drill bits that may be of added benefit in this case.

  • Let the door sit overnight, while the glue sets up. Also at this time you can fill any screw holes with wood putty. Once the glue dries, you can remove the clamps and hang the door again.

Tips & Warnings

  • The first place to look for trouble on French doors is with the hinges.
  • Always pre-drill the holes for your screws, even if you are just switching to a longer screw.
  • Be careful with using the wood chisel, if you have to cut a slot for a new hinge.

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