Bifold Doors

Dear NH,
I want to install bi-fold closet doors in my bedrooms where sliding doors existed previously. The problem is that the openings are 46", which is too small for the standard 48" bifold doors. I want to use the 6-panel Masonite type doors as I've used on the bedroom entrance doors. I tried ripping one set of doors and they bowed. Any /*suggestions, please? (My daughter has requested doors as her only birthday present, so I'm under the gun by daughter and wife!)
JS from Washington, PA

I can give you a number of options... choose the one that best suits your needs and abilities.

One would be to use solid doors instead of hollow doors. 6-panel molded doors are available with a solid core allowing you to cut a little more from each edge without having the doors weaken. Just be sure to cut the same amount from all 4 vertical edges so the doors look balanced. Most prehung bifold door "sets" come with hollow doors, so you will have to order raw solid doors and purchase the bifold hardware separately.

Another option would be to use three doors instead of two... you would have to use standard hinges on the "outside" door since the standard bifold hinges have a support tab that is unattractive on the outside of the door. Then you need to do less trimming per door edge.

In your letter, you mentioned that the doors "bowed" after trimming. This is because you cut off most of the supporting wood along the edges. This wood can be replaced by cutting and then installing a wood strip along the length of the door to reinforce the edge. The new strip is simply glued in place and clamped till dry... usually 24 hours depending on your choice of adhesive. If you want to add a few nails or screws, do it from the back of the door so they won't show.

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