Step 20 – Install the French Doors

Nearly 4 months ago I posted that I was dried in, and it wasn’t a lie.  The water resistant barrier was fully continuous across the entire surface area of the house.  What I left out was the fact that I hadn’t cut out the opening for the French doors on the second floor of the house.  I had left both the exterior polyisocyanurate foam and Tyvek water resistant barrier running over the rough opening so it would be protected from wind and rain.  The French doors of the house are nearly six feet across and over 6 feet tall, so I really wasn’t too keen on installing them as I was standing on a ladder.  Now, with the second floor walk out deck completely installed and a couple days of good weather, it was finally time to install one of the most beautiful features in my design.  

The installation of the French doors was no different than the installation of the other two doors I had installed on the first floor of the house.  The first step was to cut out the rough opening and ensure it was plumb, level, and square.  The next step was to staple the water resistant barrier around the edges of the rough opening and staple them in place, and apply a beveled cedar shim and a custom galvanized sheet metal sill pan.  This ensures that any water that makes it’s way around the door jambs just drops down to the sill pan and is sloped out to the exterior.  I installed the sill pan so that the water resistant barrier wrapped over its top edges so there is no way water can get behind it.  The next step was to hoist the French doors onto the top of the deck, and then lean them back into place in the wall.

The French doors are shimmed just like any other door so that they are square, plumb and level on all sides.  With a larger door like this, it is pretty easy for the door frame to bend, so shimming it properly becomes very important. It was dark by the time I had it all straight. Once the shims have adjusted the door, you drive 3″ screws through the jamb, through the shims, and into the studs, securing the door frames into place. 

I used Tyvek flashing tape on the exterior to seal the jambs of the door to the water resistant barrier, and then placed another strip of the flashing tape over the head of the door.  I brought the water resistant barrier down over the flashing tape and then sealed it into place with sheathing tape.  In addition, I installed a second piece of flashing that started under the z-flashing for the sill pan and ended over the top of the deck ledger. If you look at the very lower right corner of the pic below, you can see the metal sill pan going over the top of the metal flashing. This will tie the deck ledger flashing in with the door sill pan so any water will flow down and away.

Back on the inside, I worked the doors a few times to ensure they were nice and tight to the frame. Any extra space between the door and the frame will allow air to infiltrate, reducing air quality and increasing the amount of heat needed to make the house comfortable. I made a minor adjustment by applying a piece of cardboard behind a couple of the hinges to shim them out a little. After ensuring this fixed the issue, I removed a couple screws from each of the door hinges and replaced them with 3″ screws that went through not only the hinge but also the frame and into the stud. I then applied non-expanding foam in all the spaces between the door frame and the rough opening, and ran a bead of caulk between the door threshold and the back of the sill pan.   Last, I installed the door handles.

Advice? Questions? I'd love to hear your feedback or help you out in any way I can!