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How to Install French Doors in Outdoor Spaces

Bring indoor decor to an outside space with these step-by-step instructions.

Convert a large window into an attractive entryway onto a deck with this two-day project.

Materials and Tools:

utility knife
pry bar
tape measure
French doors
reciprocating saw
hammer
wood block
header lumber
sixteenpenny nails
sheathing
2-by-4-inch lumber
jack stud lumber
paintable silicone caulk
wood shims
insulation
drywall and drywall screws
joint tape
joint compound
sandpaper
trim molding
flashing
paint
door hardware

Steps:

1. With a utility knife, score caulking around the window trim, and then carefully remove it with a pry bar. Remove enough drywall so that you can measure the opening width from wall stud to wall stud. On the outside, measure for the height of the door from the deck to the top of the window. Also measure the wall thickness by measuring the jamb width on the window.

2. From inside the house, use a pry bar to remove the stool from the window. Then carefully remove the window sashes from the guides. Cut through any nails in the top and side jambs with a reciprocating saw. Using a block and hammer, knock the window frame loose and carefully remove it.

3. Use a drywall saw to remove drywall at the window-opening base. Use a circular saw to remove exterior siding. Remove the foam board and use a hammer to remove the 2-by-4 plate and cripple studs under the plate.

4. Measure the height of the door and transfer the measurement to the rough opening to get the placement for the header. Set the header frame in the rough opening and secure it to the wall studs with sixteenpenny nails.

5. Add two 2-by-4’s (one on top of the other) at the bottom of the rough opening to bring the height of the door above the deck, and nail into place. Add jack studs to support the header and frame the opening. To finish the framing, add sheathing to the outside of the studs.

6. Run a thick bead of silicone caulk onto the 2-by-4 at the bottom of the opening. Carefully set the door in the rough opening, centering it from side to side between the jambs. With a carpenter’s level, check the plumb and squaring of the door. Attach the flange of the door to the framing with galvanized screws.

7. Place wood shims behind the door hinges, allowing you to create a secure anchor for the door. Screw through the hinge into the shim and through to the rough opening. It will hold the shims in place and hold the door secure. Add insulation around the entire door. Test the door at this stage to see that it moves freely.

8. Attach drywall above the door with drywall screws, and then attach drywall on either side of the door on the interior side. Pressing firmly, apply joint tape over the joints, and then apply joint compound over the tape. After the compound is dry, sand the ridges down with sandpaper.

9. To attach exterior trim, place flashing above the door and nail it to the sheathing, and then place the first piece of exterior trim against the flashing and nail it through to the sheathing. Attach the side trim pieces between the door and the house siding. Nail new siding where necessary.

10. Seal the exterior by running silicone caulk around the entire door, and fill all exterior joints and nail holes with caulk.

11. Paint wherever necessary and add the door hardware.

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