How To Install External French Doors

DreamVu Double French Doorset

How To Install External French Doors

To help you decide if installing external french doors is within your skill level we’ve put together this quick guide to the process.

We’ll go into the costs and other reasons you may want to tackle the task yourself, and we’ll share instructions on how to install and how to remove the doors to hopefully show that maybe the process of putting in your own french doors is not as scary as it sounds,

Cost to install external french doors vs installing french doors yourself

Buying a new set of external french doors for your home can be a pricey investment. The cost of labour to have workmen install your doors can go as high as £500 just for a straight replacement. It follows that you may want to save some pennies on installation costs. The question is whether it’s worth it or not.

Installing external doors is a big deal. A lot of complications can arise if mistakes are made. And some of those are major – for example leaving your home open to damp, cold or even intruders.

If you’re an experienced DIY’er who’s installed doors, including external ones, before, it’s not too hard. It is a little awkward, and you will need help to cope with moving those heavy doors into position. But it’s not too difficult.

The main concern is that you have to get the door frame level. Otherwise your doors may never sit truly flush.

There is definitely money to be saved in doing it yourself.  Just be honest about your skill level, and make sure you understand what needs to be done before you commit to completing the installation yourself.

How to remove external french doors?

Before you fit your new doors, chances are you’ll need to remove an old set first. This is actually a straightforward job that needs minimal tools or support. The important thing is to take your time, and to be careful at every step, so that you don’t cause any damage to the opening. Because, if you do, you may find it hard to install the new set of doors – it may even affect their long-term working.

1.     Take off the hinges

With external doors this is usually a little more complicated than loosening a couple of screws. Instead, you need to get the casing off the hinge, and ease the hinge pin out using pliers, a hammer or a screwdriver.

Start with the bottom top hinge, then do the top. Leaving the middle to last will keep the weight more evenly supported and make life generally easier.

2.    Remove the frame

French door frames are usually only fixed at the sides, so carefully lever the doorjamb away from the wall using a crowbar or similar. If you experience any resistance or notice any screw or nailheads, take these out first.

3.    Clean and smooth the rough opening

Make sure all the old wood, caulk and other fixings are removed, and the surface of the opening is as smooth as possible. Definitely make sure that anything that is rotting or damaged has been taken away, because this could affect any new doors that are put in.

Removing external doors is really not that hard. The most difficult part is removing the frame, and even that can be done by one person who is paying attention and taking their time.

Just make sure you don’t start taking anything out until you have your replacement door ready to fit!

How to fit external french doors?

As a general rule, removing something is a lot easier than installing it. External french doors follow this.

Though you can’t be too rough removing them, in case you damage the opening, you have to be careful, methodical and precise throughout the whole task of installing new doors. As already mentioned, it is highly advisable to have at least one other person present when you’re doing this job as well. Doors are bulky, unwieldy, and you need to be gentle with them.


Before starting anything, there are a couple of things you should do.

Firstly, take the time to read through any manufacturer’s instructions and check that all necessary parts are present. This will also give you a chance to familiarise yourself with what you need to do.

Next, grab a couple of pieces of string, and check that your opening is straight and plumb, horizontally and vertically. Attach a piece of string between the top right corner and bottom left corner of the frame, then do the same for the opposite corners. Your string should form an ‘X’ shape, and just touch against each other in the middle.

Finally, check your floor is level. If it isn’t, this can be addressed using shims and packers, but it helps to know in advance.

With all this done you can start the actual job of installing your doors!

1.     Seal the rough opening

Use outdoor caulk or another kind of waterproof sealant to go round the opening and make it weather resistant. This will need to be left to dry before you can continue.

2.    Place the doors

If your doors are pre-hung in the frame, you will definitely need help at this point to ease them in the opening. Slide them into the bottom threshold and use a rubber mallet to carefully tap them into place.

3.    Check your doors are level

Use shims/packers to address any unevenness and keep checking that everything fits. Much better to address any anomalies now, than to wait until your frame is fixed.

4.   Check the doors open and close smoothly

Again, much easier to do that now than later.

5.    Fix the frame in place

Follow any manufacturer’s instructions on how to fix the frame. All the nails or screws that are needed should be provided for you, with clear indications of where to put them.

6.    Check the doors again.

Just to be on the safe side, make sure the doors open and close smoothly, take a step back to admire from afar. Be 100% certain that everything is as it should be.

7.    Seal the frame

Do not do this until you are certain everything is flush with your doors. Then line the edges of the frame with more sealant to make the opening completely water and weatherproof.

How to adjust external french doors?

Once they are fitted into position it is quite difficult to adjust your french doors. This is why we put so much emphasis on checking how level, straight, smooth everything is as you are working.

If you do get to the end of the job and discover a flaw in the installation, you may need to start peeling away sealant or pulling out nails and screws. Doing that will almost certainly damage your frame and it will take a lot of effort to even try and address.

Installing external french doors isn’t the most simple DIY job a homeowner will face. Still, it’s far from the hardest either. Hopefully after this guide, you understand what the task involves.

But only you can know your own DIY skills and capabilities. If you have concerns, queries or need any other advice, you can always reach out to our customer services to get more information.

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