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closet with no doorsWhen my wife and I bought our town-home, we immediately decided that we didn't like the old-school sliding closet doors that were hung in the 57" wide opening for our kids' closet. They were a pair of hollow core slab doors 30" wide and 1 3/8" thick. They only allowed 27" of the closet to be exposed at any one time, and, as a result, it was difficult to get to the middle of the closet.

I removed the doors almost immediately, and then my wife got a couple of drapery panels from Pottery Barn. I used a metal closet rod as a hanger: as a result, we could then have full access to the whole closet. This worked well for a few years, until my wife recently decided that she was done with that look and wanted to put doors back up.

After the obligatory groaning and mumbling about changing the "door" to the kids' closet again, we went shopping for new doors. After the break, I'll share a few of the options out there for solutions to this issue, along with a few tips I gleaned from the installation process for the doors we ultimately chose.

There are a lot of choices out there for closet doors. They range from cheap plastic "accordion"-style doors to mirrored sliding doors trimmed in rare woods. They all have their pluses and minuses; I will try to educate you on the choices without pushing too hard to select any particular style. The final choice is up to you. After all, I don't want to get emailed because you chose a door that I recommended, and you ended up not liking it. I get enough of that at home as it is!

Sliding doors

"Sliding" closet doors can mean a few different things. The boring monstrosities that I first removed from our house were technically sliding doors, but a more contemporary meaning for "sliding" doors refers to the kind that are most likely to be mirrored sliding doors. This door style includes everything from plain white vinyl doors to mahogany framed, beveled glass beauties.

These doors come in many standard sizes, generally ranging from 48" wide to 8' wide. The standard height for these doors is 78"-80" with the option to go as high as 96". Price will vary greatly depending on finish and whether or not they are mirrored.

For a unique touch, you can order custom sizes to cover larger openings, and get the framing wood, color, and mirror combination that will best compliment your decor. The custom versions of these doors will take as much money as you are willing to spend on your hearts desire.

An older version of sliding doors is really just two non-bored, interior slab doors hung on a track. They are generally flat-faced, and the only real decorating you can do is to change the paint. You can swap out the slabs with six-panel or other decorative interior doors, but these doors take up the most space, with the least amount of customization possible.

Folding doors

Vinyl folding doors are an inexpensive way to cover your closet opening. The drawback to your monetary savings is the style that these doors tend to lack. Style-wise, the only place these doors really fit in is in a college dorm room. The accordion folding action does lend itself to covering a few different sizes with one door size, but as the panel gathers at one side, it can get thick if you are covering a larger opening. Don't expect a long life from these doors: the folds are plastic, and will break down over time.

Bi-fold doors

Another style of door that folds out of the way is what is known as a bi-fold door. These doors can be custom-made to whatever size you need. They are available as raised panel, flat, louvered, and just about any combination of those styles. Expect to pay more for a custom size or style combination, but whatever you need should be available.


My wife and I chose to use bi-fold doors, and as I installed them I came up with a few tips.

  1. Do what you can to square up your opening before you start. It will make everything easier.
  2. Make sure that the doors are correct before you hang them. Check width, height, and, in the case of bi-folds, that the factory-installed hinges were done correctly. One set of our doors was assembled slightly "off," and I had to have them replaced before I could continue.
  3. Make sure, when you install the track, that you do not over-tighten screws: this can and will deform the track.
  4. Paint the track and doors before you hang them.

I hope this has helped to educate you about the choices that are out there. Remember to choose what will work best in your circumstances.


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