How to Frame Closet Doors

Make your dream closet a reality by building it from scratch. Get started by framing the doors.

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Whether you're building a new closet or just adding more privacy, framing for doors is an important step. The term "framing" here refers to installing the jambs into a rough opening for bypass or bifold doors. These closet doors are not available as prehung units.

A 6-foot-wide closet opening is most common, but you can install closet doors in an opening of just about any width. Sets of bifolds are available in a variety of widths (in multiples of 2 inches) and bypass doors can be cut to any width desired. The standard height is 80 inches (the same as for an entry door). If you have an older home with 9- or 10-foot-high ceilings, this can leave you with unusable space above the doors. Either build shelves with small doors above the closet or custom-make bypass doors that are tall enough to suit your situation.

For this project, you'll need to be skilled at measuring, using a level, cutting, and fastening. Plan to set aside at least half a day for this project—once the rough framing is completed, it will take about three hours to build a finish frame (jambs) for a closet.

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What You Need

  • Miter box or power mitersaw
  • Circular saw
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Framing square
  • Jamb stock or 1x lumber the same thickness of your walls
  • Casing
  • Finishing nails
  • Shims

Before You Begin: Cut a Rabbet

Rabbet joints at the corners are stronger and neater looking than simply butting two pieces of wood together. You may be able to buy jamb stock that already has rabbets. If not, mark a line 3/4 inch from the end. Set a circular saw to cut 1/4 to 3/8 inch deep and make a series of cuts, starting at the line.

Remove as much of the wood as you can by tapping gently with a hammer. Clean the joint with a wood chisel.

Step 1: Build Header and Opening

If you do not already have one, build a wall for the closet, with a header above. A header that spans 6 feet should be made of 2x8s or larger, even if it is not load-bearing. Check that the opening is the correct size for the bifold or sliding doors you will install. Measure the diagonals to be sure that the opening is at least within 3/8 inch of square and ensure that the sides are plumb and the header is level.

Finish the opening by installing drywall on each side. Buy three pieces of jamb stock—two for the sides and one for the header—that are the same width as your wall's thickness. If your wall is an odd thickness, rip pieces of 1x finish-grade lumber to the correct width.

Step 2: Cut and Assemble

Cut the jamb sides and head to length, taking into account the depth of the rabbets in the sides. On the floor assemble the parts and measure to make sure the assembly will fit the opening and doors. Assemble with nails or drill pilot holes and drive screws.

Step 3: Cut and Attach Casing

Cut pieces of casing molding, making 45-degree miters at the corners. Scribe a reveal line along the edge of the jambs, cut the casing pieces, and attach the casing to the jamb with 3d finishing nails. Check with a framing square as you work.

Step 4: Remove Covering

If you have covered your floor to protect it during construction, remove the covering in the doorway; it's tough to cut around the jamb and trim to remove it later.

Step 5: Position Frame

Tilt the frame into the doorway. On one side check the jamb for plumb and press the casing against the wall. Tack (partially drive) several 6d finishing nails or trimhead screws to hold it in place.

Step 6: Check for Level

Check the corners for square and the header for level; you may need to raise or lower the jamb on either side. Tap in shims from either side and tack nails or screws.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

Check again for square. If possible temporarily place the closet doors into the opening to be sure they and their hardware will fit with consistent gaps all around. Finish driving the nails or screws. Cut and install casing inside the closet.

Items to Never Store in Your Closet

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