23

Aug

Attaching a cheap and cheerful folding door – easier than you think


The other day, I found myself in an empty basement of my Uncle and Aunt’s house in NY (don’t ask me how I got here, it’s a long story). Bless my Uncle and Aunt for helping and supporting me go through some difficult times in the last year or so.

plastic folding doors

Plastic folding doors

Anyways, onto the topic of my post which I thought fellow readers might very useful  ie. how to put up a cheap and cheerful folding door. The plastic door I picked up is from Lowes for under $30 to insulate my room from the excessive heat wave that was happening around the NY area. I had brought the portable AC unit down from the attic and positioned it in the window and then I was left with all manner of tasks on how to insulate the room and keep the room cool as well as reducing the electric bills. Naturally the wide open door was my first area of concern and I had temporarily hung a bed sheet with two push pins which you can imagine was a sorry tale for a door. I came up with the idea of a folding, sliding door that would do the job of putting a barrier from the cool air escaping as well as being functional. Normally I often research the heckl out of anything I want to buy by going to reviews, youtube etc. until I build up enough knowledge and confidence that I have made the right decision and can do the job with eyes closed (ok not quite). Of course you don’t have to follow my lead, you can just simply buy the product and follow my simple instructions.

 

Surprisingly, once I got around to installing it, it was a breeze and pretty much anyone could do it.

 

Here are the steps to putting it up:

  1. Measure the opening of the doorway that you are installing the folding door and make sure you purchase the folding door that is bigger than this opening.
  2. My opening was 76” x 29” and the item I purchased covered openings of 88×32
  3. I cut the length of the item to fit the drop length of the opening. This is where you need to make sure you cut it to the right size. Too short and you could leave a large gap at the bottom and too big means it won’t close as it will drag on the floor. I actually put the top rail on the doors and measured it before I cut the excess off the bottom. In this way you have ensured that the cut will be exact to size. I used my humble electric cut-off saw which did the job nicely.
  4. Make sure that you know which is the top and bottom before you do the cut. One can easily make a mistake and cut the excess from the top. The way you can tell is that there are a number of holes that hold the guide plastics that feed through the top rail.
  5. Drilling or screwing to walls – I was not sure whether I needed anchor plugs but once I screwed my first screw of the top rail, I realized it had some tension to hold up the rail even though the screw went in easily. You need to decide whether to use anchor screws or not on your project and how rigid you want the thing to be. I thought this would work for me and if I needed to reinforce the thing later, I could screw fatter screws through the thin plastic railing.
  6. Once you put everything up, you realize the mechanics of the whole thing. Some additional screws (supplied) were required to fasten the loose flap that will be bound to the wall on the opposite side of the door opening. The handles with magnetic catch are used to snap the door in place when closing.

 

I installed the whole thing in just under an hour but it can be even quicker for some folks since I took extra time in measuring and reading so as not to make a mistake. You realize immediately what the differences are between say a proper robust folding door to a diy cheap and cheerful one that I have. First the folding door will bend once you open it since there are no rails at the bottom to keep it straight. However, since the whole thing is very light, I wasn’t too worried about that, I just moved it slowly using the handles and using my arm to keep the whole thing straight. If I got too lazy, I would open it slightly and then slide the rest of the door from the top.

 

As usual, I can see all kinds of bells and whistles going off in my head as to how the whole thing could be improved. After all, I am an engineer 🙂 For those readers who are interested, please read on..

folding door magnetic door hinge

folding door magnetic door hing

 

Mechanics of the sliding and folding door..

As explained previously, the door relies only on the top rail to move it back and forth and this causes the door to bend when you slide the whole door where the handle is. The cure for this is to have either bottom rail guides to put this in place just like sliding insect screens you see on external windows and doors.. Alternatively, you can make the whole thing heavy enough that the weight would simply prevent the unit from twisting when you slide from the middle. This would require strong top rail mountings and most definitely anchor joints.

 

On this cheap and cheerful folding door there are gaps that come from the bottom and the side of the door where the magnetic catch is. Naturally, this would not be the best choice for an effective insulation of the room. You could put a strip of plastic of the same thickness as the magnetic strip to cover the gap and you could put some cloth or ribbon at the bottom to cover the gap in the bottom. Guide rails at the top, side and bottom could cure this problem however expect to pay upwards of hundreds of dollars for that luxury.

 

However, for now I am very happy! Now to find the other holes to stop the cool air from escaping.



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