Dear James: Our swinging doors use a lot of wall space when open. Our house is small, so we want to install sliding or folding doors. Which design is better and how are they installed? — Marcia L.
Dear Marcia: Hinged doors do take up a lot of space. Since they are normally in the fully opened or closed position, it may not be apparent how much open space they actually require as they swing open. One advantage of hinged doors is when they are open, the entire door opening width is available. Sliders and folding doors will block some of the opening.
With small children, sliders or folding doors may be a good idea because they don't block as much sound as tight-fitting hinged doors. This allows you to hear what your children are doing when they are out of sight behind the closed door. This may also become annoying at other quiet times though.
Other than aesthetics, there is no significant advantage between installing a slider or a folding door. Sliders usually look more similar to a traditional hinged wood door and may be a better match with the rest of the doors in your home. Some folding doors simulate paneling or vertical blinds when closed, so this may look better in some rooms.
Most doors in a home are 80 inches tall, but some may be lower, often in a finished basement. Doors can be cut down slightly to fit a smaller opening. Carefully measure the door opening. Measure each opening (height and width) in several locations because they often are out of square. Use the smaller of the measurements in each direction when selecting your new door.
Sliding doors (also called bypass doors) are easy to install yourself. These are ideal for wide closets because they give you easy access to either side depending on which door panel you slide open. A track is installed across the top of the door opening and a guide is mounted on the floor. They will be easy for your children to open and close.
The key to an easy-to-operate sliding door is making sure the top track is level in the opening. You will probably have to use some thin shims under one end or the other to level it. This will not be unsightly because the track will be hidden by a trim strip which you attach later.
Attach the rollers to the top of the door. These are adjustable, so perfect alignment is not critical when you first install them. Measure the position of the rollers to see how far the door surface will offset from the track. Hang a plumb from the track and position the guides on the floor so the door will be vertical when installed. Hang the door in the track and install the floor guides.
Installing folding (bifold or accordion) doors is not much different from a sliding door. Install the top and bottom tracks (some simple ones just hang without a bottom track) making sure they are aligned vertically above one another. Insert the pivot on the bottom of the door into the lower track socket. The top pivot is usually spring-loaded so it can be compressed and slipped into the top socket.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.