French Doors Can Replace Your Garage Door: Here's How

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We converted a garage into a family room by removing the garage door and replacing it with a double door in a split-level home. Due to the size discrepancy between the garage door opening and this insulated fiberglass door, we had to frame a new opening. When replacing a door, it can be difficult to ensure that the new door fits securely into the old rough opening. However, in this instance, we customized the rough opening to the door size. Here is our approach to the project.

To facilitate its future use as a family room, the existing overhead garage door will be swapped out for a pair of double doors.

Support Structures

Keep in mind that we framed this doorway as a stud wall and not a load-bearing wall. A load-bearing header must be installed above the door jamb for most exterior doors. Door and window headers, typically constructed from doubled 2x lumber, span the rough opening and distribute the weight of the roof across the remaining studs. Whether or not the wall surrounding the opening bears weight determines the size of the header.

The chain, tracks, and motor of the door-opener mechanism must be taken out first.

Since the original garage door was built with a strong header, we were able to simply remove it without disrupting the supporting structure. After framing the opening, we built an additional wall to accommodate the double door. The secondary wall is not necessary for support because the preexisting header met all load requirements. Its functions are limited to defining the rough opening, enclosing the door on all sides, and providing a nailing surface for the drywall and sheathing. The new secondary header wasn't required to carry any weight, so we made it out of doubled 2x4s.

Unscrew each garage door panel, starting at the top and working your way down.

Location Deciding

Taking some initial measurements was the first step in correctly positioning the double door. We determined how close the new wall would be to the old frame after taking into account the sheathing thickness that would be applied in between the two. Next, we snapped a chalk line on the ground to use as a guide for installing the door jamb and the new wall.

The new door was placed, and the rough opening was constructed around it for this project.

To move a double door, you'll need at least two people. However, we were able to make precise measurements and layout marks for the surrounding frame after inserting the pre-hung door and jamb into the opening.

A typical door frame is depicted here. The new secondary door frame was a nonload-bearing wall due to the garage door's preexisting header, so we constructed the header out of two 2x4s. A larger header supported by narrower studs is required for a load-bearing wall.

When installing a new door, the jamb may not quite fit the opening perfectly and require some adjusting with shims or trim boards. However, you are free to build the frame around the door as snugly as you like, so long as you leave enough wiggle room to fit the door into the rough opening. The door is a common source of out-of-square framing errors caused by house settlement (or shoddy construction). Rough openings for doors and windows should be constructed so that they are plumb, square, and true, with no bowed studs.

Constructing the Basics

The wall was built with standard components, including a sill plate, bottom plate, and 16-inch-center studs. We put in two studs on either side of the door and a top plate to secure the sill. While we continued building the wall, we took the door off and set it aside.

Put concrete screws into the slab to secure the sill plate of the wall.

To protect the new frame from the elements, it is common practice to insulate it with rigid foam insulation sheets that also feature a moisture barrier. After cutting the foam to size, we nailed it to the outside of the frame. Seal the perimeter of the rigid foam to the frame using flashing tape. Protect the bottom of your door jamb from water damage by drawing up a sill plan.

The top plate must be shortened so that studs on either side of the door can be placed. The ceiling joists and top plate are secured together.


The pre-hung door frame was brought in from the outside and sealed with beads of sealant along the bottom of the opening and along the seams at the lower corners. However, you shouldn't slide the door into place, as this will disrupt the sealant beads. Tilting it into place and then adjusting it works best.

Put in studs that have been cut to size to frame the rough opening between the sill and the top plate.

To ensure proper installation of your door, it is recommended that you consult the manual provided by the manufacturer. The hinge jambs should be centered in the door frame, and then one 10d finish nail or three-inch screws should be driven through the jamb's center and into the framing studs. The door is held in place by the nails or screws while the jamb is plumb and squared, with the help of shims if necessary. Between the jamb and the studs, at the hinge locations, place the shims. If the gap isn't perfectly square, use shims to bring it into alignment. Jambs should be checked for squareness by taking diagonal measurements in an X pattern (corner to corner) to ensure they are parallel.

Check that the boards are not bowed and that the studs are installed square, plumb, and true.

Make sure the reveal between the door panels on a pair of doors is the same height and width on both doors.

Put the studs in the top and bottom with toenails.

Once the door is in its final position, the pre-hung screws that came with it can be inserted into the hinges' open holes. Be careful not to distort the door jamb by overdriving the screws.

We put in the decorative 44 header.

Assuming the door swings open and closes smoothly, proceed to use 10d finish nails or predrilled 3-inch screws to secure the jamb to the frame.

Wall insulation is improved by using rigid foam sheets.

The Final Steps

When installing a new door, it's important to insulate and seal the edges and air gaps with spray foam and caulk.

Nail the foam sheets to the wall studs. Make the foam sheet the wall's dimensions using a utility knife. Put some adhesive sealant along the rough opening's base.

When installing your door, be sure to follow the manufacturer's guidelines. There are typically long hinge screws included, which are used to fasten the door by drilling through the jamb at the hinge location, the shims, and finally the stud framing. The door frame must not be bowed inward.

Before adding more fasteners to hold the jamb in place, make sure the door is working properly.

To ensure at least 3/8 inch of space between the siding and the brick-mold of the door, experts recommend installing a foam backer rod as deeply as possible around the brick-mold of the door. Apply a bead of high-quality exterior sealant over the backer rod, and then smooth it out with a caulking tool. This technique produces an expandable and contractible sealant line around the door.

Between the header and top plate, short cripple studs are installed. Each side of the door jamb is framed by two studs in the wall. After that, fiberglass batts are used to insulate the wall. The gap between the new wall and the garage door is concealed by baseboard molding. Cement siding must be installed with careful attention to leveling between courses, and fastening must adhere to the manufacturer's specifications.

Cement siding, trim boards, and a fresh coat of matching paint brought this project to a successful conclusion. The new double doors were given a polished look with the help of two decorative outdoor wall fixtures wired into the new wall.

Two sconces mounted on the wall and a final coat of paint brought the whole thing together.

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