Adding French Patio Doors

Adding French patio doors will definitely help to integrate the interior space of your home with the outdoors, creating versatility and ease of movement from inside the house to outside. They can be installed on your own, though it does take a lot of work and you need two people to be able to tackle the job safely.

Preparing Your Doorway – Part 1

1) For a swinging French patio door, the threshold where the door will sit needs caulking runs along the base. Go outside and center the door unit’s bottom inside the opening, tilting to get it into place.

2) Adjust for a plumb face, and secure the jamb on the side to the wall framing. This is temporary, so use two 3” drywall screws, and place them around 6 inches underneath the head jamb.

3) From the inside of the house, shim the gap on the top of the door that will be active. The whole width of the door needs to be even – all the way from the latch to the hinge jambs. You can force a shim under the sill and under the latch jamb is you find that the gap above it is too large. The reverse applies if it’s too narrow – shim under the hinge jamb.

4) When the gap is even, recheck to make sure your door is plumb. Shim the latch jamb with a straightedge to check your work, placing this around 6” under the top of the door unit, 6” above your sill and on either side of the door lock. Do not place a shim above the head jamb – ever.

Preparing Your Doorway – Part 2

5) Check to make sure all corners of the door are square, and add shims if they’re not, placing them underneath the sill. Evenly spaced shims along the jamb should be placed at four locations, at the inactive jambs on the side, making them sit securely but not forced in.

6) Head back outside, securing the inactive side-jamb by taking two 3” drywall screws and screwing them through each pair of your shims. It may be a good idea to countersink your screw holes now, and come back later with wood putty to fill them in.

7) Moving inside, check that the door face is plumb and that you have an even gap between the door and jamb. This should be even up the latch-side jamb and then along the top. Take a few more 3” drywall screws and place them through the latch jamb, at each shim pair going directly into the wall framing.

Finishing Your Doorway

8) Check the door’s base to make sure the door contacts the threshold evenly when you open and close the door, and adjust as necessary.

9) From the inside of the house, place fiberglass or environmentally friendly insulation into the gap you created between the wall frame and the door jamb. It should fit snugly into the space, which will allow you to nail your brick mold. This should be 16” on the center exterior, and afterward the interior casing can be installed.

10) Moving outside, use caulking around the outside where your siding meets the brick mold.

Check your manufacturer’s instructions to see how those specific doors are finished, because you’ve now installed French patio doors.