How to Recreate the Look of an Antique Closet Door | Ask This Old House

11February 2019

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva travels to Pittsburgh to replace a bi-fold closet door with one that is more appropriate for the house
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Time: 6-8 hours

Cost: $800

Skill Level: Moderate

Tools List for Replacing a Closet Door:
Miter saw
Measuring tape

Shopping List:
Pre-hung door
Reproduction door hardware
2x4 studs
Framing screws

1. Start by removing the old door from the closet opening.
2. Measure the width of the door opening and order a door that size or smaller, to make it easier.
3. Cut the 2x4 studs to length and then secure them to the sides of the door opening using framing screws and the drill. Use additional 2x4s or rip down additional stock as needed until the opening is roughly 2” wider than the width of the door.
4. Check the opening for level at the top and plumb on both sides. If it’s slightly off plumb on the sides, that can be corrected with shims.
5. To make sure the header stays level, hold the level at about eye level and make two reference marks on both sides of the rough opening.
6. Measure from the reference mark to the header on both sides of the opening. Transfer the measurement of the shorter side to both sides of the jamb on the pre-hung door. This will make the door level.
7. To get the correct height for the jamb, measure from the reference lines on the rough opening down to the floor on both sides. Then, measure from the reference line on the jamb to the bottom of the jamb. If the jamb is longer than the measurement from the opening, it will need to be cut.
8. Cut the jamb to length based on the reference measurements.
9. The door may also need to be cut down slightly to allow the door to swing properly.
10. Remove the door from the jamb.
11. Hold the jamb into the rough opening and line up the reference marks from the jamb and the rough opening. Be sure that the edge of the jamb is flush with the face of the wall.
12. Slide shims behind the door jamb on the hinge side so that it has a roughly even gap as the other side of the jamb.
13. Predrill some holes in the jamb and the rough opening. Then, secure the jamb to the opening with framing screws.
14. Hold the level against the edge of the jamb just screwed into the opening. Once the level is plumb, pull the jamb out as much as necessary to meet the level, add shims behind the jamb to hold it in that position, and screw it into the rough opening the same way as before.
15. Rehang the door in the jamb to check how it swings before securing the rest of the jamb.
16. Secure the striker side of the jamb to the rough opening using the same method.
17. To even out the gap between the door and the jamb, add shims to the middle of each side of the gap between the jamb and the rough opening. This should push the jamb inwards, closer to the door. Secure those shims with screws.
18. Install the reproduction door hardware to the door using a screwdriver and the pieces that come with the hardware.
19. Add a door casing to the outside of the door frame to give it a finished look.

The 5 raised panel pre-hung door Tom installed is manufactured by JB Sash & Door ( The reproduction hardware Tom used is a Putnam Classic Interior Door Knob set in oil-rubbed bronze, manufactured by Rejuvenation (

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Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we're ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O'Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook.

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How to Recreate the Look of an Antique Closet Door | Ask This Old House

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