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“Replace Hardware on the BiFold Closet Door”

That’s exactly how it appeared on the to do list I had for that Saturday. And here are some notes I made for myself prior to making adjustments to a bifold closet door at our rental property. (We had recently installed new carpet.) It was a hollow-core bi-fold door that rolled “along” a top track. All I would need was a BiFold Door Repair Kit, and it’d be easy.

1. Remove door by lifting and tilting bottom out.
2. Replace hardware.
3. Vertical adjustment *For vertical adjustment: lift and rotate adjusting wheel. Doors should just clear header.
4. Horizontal adjustment *For horizontal adjustment: lift and slide into new slot. Adjust so have an 1/8″ gap between pair of doors at center or jamb in 2 door opening.
5. Snap-in snugger (spring stop).

The above instructions as they appeared on the back of a package labeled: BiFolding Door Replacement Hardware.

“Replace Hardware”. Seems simple enough; doesn’t it?

Well …

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First, if I had opportunity to rewrite these instructions they might look like this.

How to Replace the Hardware on a Bifolding Closet Door

  1. Remove the door by lifting and tilting bottom out at the pivot bracket.
  2. Replace hardware in and on the door.  (I did not use this one, but recommend instead this Prime-Line Bi-Fold Repair Kit). This should just be a matter of removing old hardware and replacing with new. The directions read: “Easily repair a 3/8 In. diameter hole system. It is best used on track systems with a width of 7/8 In.”
  3. Reinstall door at the pivot bracket. Insert top piston, lift and set door into the pivot bracket.
  4. Make vertical adjustments. For vertical adjustment: lift and rotate adjusting wheel. Doors should just clear the header.
  5. Make horizontal adjustments. For horizontal adjustment: lift and slide into new pivot bracket. Adjust so you have an 1/8″ gap between pair of doors at the center and at the jambs for the opening.
  6. Snap the guide wheel into the track.
  7. ONCE RE-INSTALLED MAKE SURE YOUR BIFOLD DOORS MOVE FREELY ABOVE YOUR NEWLY INSTALLED CARPET!!!

 

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A Part Time Landlord

Our apartment recently turned over. This go around, we had a few things to do. And this time, the carpet had to go.

And I guess directed by prevailing taste, we picked a frieze (and it’s complete disregard for phonics) to go on the floor of this unit. It would be replacing a low-riding Berber that had given us many years of service.

As always, when this apartment flips, my property manager (read: my wife) had a short punch list of items for me to complete. On this list was adjusting a bi-fold door on a closet. You see, the carpet guy had removed it, and it was kinda just laying there in its track. I mean, I don’t blame him; he had to get it out of the way as he ran the floor covering into the walk-in closet.

Making a List and Checking it Twice

As I usually do with the apartment, I made myself, well, a punch list, in Excel. On it, I was thinking ahead. . .bullet point — Replacement Hardware for a “bottom-pivoting” bi-fold door.

Now, I didn’t have a ton of experience with these types of doors; I try to avoid them when at all possible. But from my time with the builder, I made minor adjustments to them. So, I do know a thing or two. And I knew that there was a “replacement hardware” pack. . . It would contain everything I could possibly need.

Hollow Core Doors are Stable and Light

Masonite Hollow Core Door on AmazonThis set of bi-fold doors was manufactured in August of 1993; I knew this because I pulled them out, as per step 1 noted above (ok, I improvised on that slightly). Anyway, the date was clearly stamped on the bottom of them. Made by a company called Craftmaster. “I don’t know, it sounds familiar; ah, they’re probably still around,” I thought.

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A few other points of note: These doors brushed at the bottom even with the Berber in place AND they were tight at the header; they were hollow-core and they were big — 24 inches each. The largest possible for this type of installation (or so I have read).

That said, I went to work. I figured I’d have to trim it a touch, at the bottom; I’d have to — if I wanted it to clear the carpet.

Cutting Down a Hollow-Core Bi-Fold Door

I had a good bit of experience cutting down their kind — “the inexpensive hollow-core door.” (I even know what to do if I have to cut beyond the solid wood edge that holds it all together.) I knew, it’d probably be smart to start small, and go from there.

So, for my trim cut, and with doors already on my mind, I picked the standard bottom clearance of 3/8″. And under less than workshop-worthy conditions, I took it off; 3/8s of an inch, perfect.

Installing Replacement Hardware for a Bi-Fold Door

And there I went, I ripped (well I know better than to rip) into my replacement hardware pack. First, I went to work on the bottom panel at the pivot-side. The pre-drilled hole at the bottom of the door, and mind you, I didn’t have my larger bits on me that day, seemed slightly smaller that the plastic sleeve I held in my hand. “Should I ream it out a bit?” . . . “Nah” — The sleeve was tapered; close enough, i thought. The tapering was probably intended to allow the sleeve to slip in but snug up tight. And I tapped it in lightly with a 10 oz hammer. It went in nicely. No issues.

Then I went to work on the top two pieces from my pack, called the “top pivot” and the “guide” respectively. There were similar sized holes on those edges of my door panels. Unfortunately, the old hardware still plugged them. The pivot was easy enough — I grabbed it with a pair of channel locks and wiggled it out. The guide side, however, presented a little bit more of a problem. But with a little mind over matter, it eventually broke free. And broke, it was — I destroyed it.

I inspected my new hardware — strange I thought — that the plastic casing for these two springed parts was slightly smaller than the sleeve I just installed on the bottom. Yet the holes they were going into were the same size.

No matter, I gloobed up the pivot side with some acrylic caulk I had loaded up and laying around. I slid them in, working, carefully, as not to destroy their spring loaded mechanisms. I used my 5-in-1 painter’s tool pushing gently against the outer edge of the plastic sleeves.

One Size Fits All — Sometimes

Before I went to push the guide in, I did think enough to check the size of the roller guide and whether it would fit in the existing track at the header. Damn. Too big, “Nothing is easy.” Nonetheless, I don’t need that now. And I went to sitting the door back in place.

I lined it up, that is, from experience I knew you need to fold the door up, place the pivot guide home in the bracket at the floor and place the top guide inside the track. Then and only then swing it up towards the top bracket, which I was replacing too, at the other end.

Once I got roughly over the bracket location with the top of the door, I slid the bracket towards me just that slightly. Man, this is going to work out nicely, I thought. I gently slid the bracket back in place — and there you go.

Just need to hold it here and tighten up that set screw. Easy does it, easy does it — ok — Its all good — gonna tighten it up. I was getting excited, the bi-fold door adjustment off my list. I gave it a quick test, unfolding it into the opening. Man, it still drags a little on the new carpet. Ok — I am going to have to adjust the door upwards a little.

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A Part Time Lover

Now, at this point I am not actually sure what happened, but it happened. Bam — the door seemed to jump from the pivot bracket on the floor. No biggie, I’ll compress the spring-loaded guide, and slip it back out. Snap — the guide just flopped down into the housing. It broke. “Good thing I saved the original.”  So I finished removing the door, intending to make the needed adjustment. But to my surprise when I looked at its underside, there it was: a long skinny zig zagging of a hair line crack running from the predrilled hole that I just stuffed the bottom pivot into. The solid block at the bottom of the door had collapsed slightly to reveal exactly how much of it were left after I cut the door down. About 3/4″.

Now from my experience with the standard hinged hollow core door, you typically have at minimum about 2″ of solid blocking at the top and bottom edges. But why not here, where this block would actually be required to bear some weight? With that realization, and I wasn’t too surprised, I decided to put it down for the day. I had other things to do; and I’d have to run to the home center, again, anyway.

*******

Part 2 :: Installing a Bi Fold Door Repair Bracket.

For more information about working with Doors, check our Doors category.


> > More Moxie (Related Links):

What is Freige? http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-frieze-carpet.htm

For information on BiFold doors: http://www.bifold-doors.net/ (Photo Credit)

Craftmaster Interior Doors: http://www.craftmasterdoors.com/