Since my closet post and guest room feature, I’ve had a lot of people ask for a tutorial on paneled bi-fold closet doors. In hindsight, I would’ve taken very specific images during construction to document the process. Unfortunately, during that stage of the renovation- I was totally over it. My mindset was only looking towards the finished project, rather than thinking of blog content.
With that being said, I do have a few images. You’ll have to excuse the quality and the mess in each photo because as I mentioned, this was a real life construction zone. Ha! Luckily, it’s a pretty straightforward and simplistic DIY, so I’m going to do my best to pull together a little tutorial for you guys! Here it goes, the secret to dressing up plain bi-fold doors…
I prefer the look of flat and simple, shaker style doors. It fits the aesthetic of my home and it’s probably the easiest trim to apply. I also prefer balance; I knew I wanted each inner square to be the exact same size. Once you have decided on the overall design and direction, you’re ready to get started!
1: Gather your supplies. You’ll need a pair of unfinished hardwood interior bi-fold doors. As long as your closet door frame is a standard size, you can purchase doors like this from any big box retailer. You’ll also need a saw, poplar planks, wood glue, wood filler, a level, sand paper / sander, primer, paint, brushes / roller, and hardware. If you want heavy duty doors, you can use a finishing nail gun in addition to wood glue.
2: Measure and cut. Because I’m a visual person, I like to make a little sketch and calculate the size of each square or trim piece. After you’ve calculated the length of each wood plank, measure and mark each piece. Remember the old rule, “measure twice, cut once”… I’m always at fault for skipping this step and it comes back to bite me. Next, you’re ready to cut the wood.
3: Assemble and adhere. If your design is the same as mine, you should have 8 long planks and 24 short planks. Begin by glueing the long vertical pieces first. Mount them 1/4 inch inside the edge on the sides and at the top and bottom. I repeat, you don’t want to mount them flush to the edge (this is the same rule that is followed when installing window or door trim)! After the long pieces are set and squared, begin glueing the short horizontal pieces.
4: Fill and sand. Allow your doors plenty of time to completely dry (I’d recommend at least one day). Next, you’ll want to fill any cracks, crevices, or joint lines with wood filler. Some of the joints may have slightly expanded or contracted, wood filler should do the trick to fill any tiny gaps. Once the wood filler is completely dry, sand the doors until they’re nice and smooth.
5: Prime and paint. In my opinion, this is the fun part because you can really see the transformation! You can either use a brush or a roller. I used a brush for the inner edges and corners, and rolled the flat panels. Like any other door or trim, I would recommend using a semi-gloss finish. Here the doors are smooth and ready for painting (and obviously the walls needed it too, ha):
6: Install (if you haven’t already), add hardware. You might have already guessed to install your doors. I actually painted while my doors were installed. It probably made it more difficult, but I was anxious to see them in the space. Some doors come with hinges, while others do not include hardware. I selected brass hinges to match by door knobs (agate pulls). The last step is adding the exterior hardware, then you’re all finished! If you need a little hardware inspiration, check the hardware section in this Etsy roundup.
Since my closet door update, I’ve been seeing beautified closet doors pop up more frequently in my feed. I loved this roundup by Jenny Komenda on Little Green Notebook. There are so many ways to dress up boring bifold doors. I hope you give my DIY a try; be sure to tag us, so we can share the results!