Note from Casey: This blog post originally published in January 2017. I know many of you missed it back then, so today I’ve updated it and wanted to share the tutorial again. It’s such a great project and the perfect way to make plain bi-fold doors look a bit more custom. Enjoy!
In the fall of 2017, we completed an amazing 48-hour makeover for a local couple here in the Chicagoland area. It’s crazy to see the side-by-side comparison of April and Mike’s bedroom… Wowza! Such an amazing before and after filled with lots of easy DIY projects. (You can find all of the sources, more pictures, and the tutorials in this blog post. And here’s a video showcasing the entire project.) One of those DIY projects was upgrading the bi-fold doors on their bedroom closet.
The upgraded bi-fold doors turned out so good and they inspired me to take a look at the bi-fold doors in my own home.
The Bi-Fold Doors In Our Condo
Here are the louvered doors that hide our laundry unit, HVAC, and hot water heater. They’re so crappy and I’ve been meaning to spruce them up ever since we moved in.
Not only are they a bit of an eyesore, but they also allow a lot of noise to escape into the main room. Whenever the hot water heater kicks on, or we have laundry going, you can hear it in the main room. That’s not the best when you’re trying to enjoy dinner or watch TV.
When we got our HVAC and hot water heater serviced, I specifically asked the technician if we would be able to remove the louvered door and instead put in flat panel doors that are a bit thicker. That way some of the noise would be muffled and it would look a heck of a lot better. He surveyed the entire area, and to my delight he said we could go for it! Yes! Bye, bye, ugly cheap doors.
With our new laundry, I knew it was time to get to this DIY project and spruce up the doors. While we did a blog post about the doors for the Lowe’s home makeover, we didn’t do a fully-fledged tutorial. If you’re looking to recreate this project at home, I figured it might be helpful to give you a step-by-step for how I DIY’ed my bi-fold doors.
DIY Supplies for This Project
- New Flat Panel Doors
- Paint Brush, Tray, & Small Roller
- Miter Saw
- Nail Gun & 1″ nails
- Liquid Nails
- Sanding Block
- Caulk & Caulk Gun
- Painter’s Putty
- White Paint
- Black Handles
- Drop Cloths
- Saw Horses
- Lattice (1/4 inch thick, 1-3/8 wide pine)
- Tape Measure & Pencil
- Safety Glasses
- Laser Level
How to Add Trim to Plain Bi-fold Doors
Okay, so let’s go step-by-step for how I transformed these main doors in our condo.
Buy New Doors
The first thing I did was order new flat panel doors. I ended up getting these oak ones and they were shipped within a week. Once they arrived, I removed the old ones and hung the new. I simply followed the directions to get the new ones up and secure. The doors came with a new track and hardware, so it wasn’t too difficult. I wanted to make sure the doors fit perfectly before I painted and added the trim. So, once I ensured that they fit well, I removed them and took them to the garage for painting.
If you already have plain bi-fold doors, you’re good to go! I just wanted to get rid of the louvered ones, so buying some plain ones was my best bet.
Prime Each Side
With the help of some sawhorses, I laid out the doors and got to priming. A small roller and tray got the job done, and I used my favorite primer. I put two coats on each side and also painted the edges and creases.
Prime the Lattice
With the doors drying, I put a thin coat of primer on every side of each piece of lattice. The mini roller came in handy to get these done very quickly. As for the lattice, it comes in a variety of sizes at the hardware store. For this project, I went with this pine lattice that is 1/4 inch thick and 1-3/8 inches wide.
Cut Lattice & Attach Verticals
With the lattice and doors all primed and ready, it was time to get cutting. I started with the long vertical pieces and I measured 1/2 inch off of each edge of the door. For each bi-fold door, I cut all four vertical pieces at once to make sure that they were all even. Then I attached them to the actual door, still leaving the 1/2 inch on each edge (so the door can easily open & close).
To attached each piece, I used liquid nails, as well as our pneumatic nail gun.
This combo will keep any piece of wood very securely attached.
Add Horizontal Lattice Pieces
With all of the vertical pieces attached, I went ahead and cut the horizontal pieces of lattice. This took some trial and error to make each piece fit exactly between the verticals. I decided on a design with three rectangular boxes on each half of the door, so I ended up cutting eight pieces for each. As I cut each one, I attached it to the door and continued until all of the wood was in place!
DIY Tip: I ended up doing the laundry doors and the other two doors on different days, so my laundry door was done before the other two. For the other two doors, I waited to add the horizontal lattice until I actually hung the doors up in our home. I wanted the horizontal pieces to line up perfectly, so I found it easiest to hang the doors up and then attach the lattice pieces. I definitely recommend this route if you have more than one door to DIY, and use a laser level to make sure they’re perfectly aligned.
Fill Nail Holes
Now it was time to make my work look seamless. I filled the nail holes with Painter’s Putty and waited for it to dry. (To use the Painter’s Putty, just ball it up and use it as an eraser on each little hole. Push it in the hole and it’s gone!)
Then, I used acrylic caulk along every single seam of the wood to make it look that much more polished.
DIY Tip: Keep a wet paper towel or rag nearby as you caulk, and clean up your lines as you go. I always use the method where you drag your finger behind your line of caulk. It gets messy on the hands, but you come away with a nice, neat line of caulk on your piece.
With the caulk and putty dry, I went around and sanded everything down to ensure it was smooth and ready for paint. Make sure you also use a rag to get rid of any dust & debris before you move onto painting.
Paint Your Doors
I decided to hang my bi-fold doors and then paint them. You could always paint the doors at your workstation, let them fully cure, and then hang them back up. It’s totally up to you!
Using a roller and brush combo, I got to work painting the bi-folds with white semi-gloss paint from Behr.
After three coats, my doors were looking good with even coverage!
Add Your Door Handles
For the finishing touch, I added these sleek black handles to each door. Just use a drill and pilot bit to create your hole, and then secure the handle right on there.
My DIY Bi-fold Doors – Before & After
I am so in love with the new look and I only wish I tackled this DIY project sooner. It really elevates our entire condo and makes it look more custom.
I actually ended up giving our fireplace a DIY makeover too and used the same size lattice for that project. It really ties the custom woodworking together throughout the condo.
And if you want to see more of our Chicago condo (we moved out in Spring of 2019) you can tour it here.Casey