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m1951mm 04-16-2011 04:26 AM

Install a Bifold door at top of stairs
I want to install a 36" bifold door at the top of a stairway going to the basement. I am dealing with plaster walls. The ceiling is on a pitch (the degree I have not checked yet). On either side of the opening are doorways with casing leading to other rooms. I have just enough width of floor space (about 2") where the door can go. Wall to wall is 38" and between the two casings for the other doors is about 36" I hope this is clear the area I am dealing with. My first question is how to attach the top guide rail since I am working with a sloped ceiling. Do I need to rip a 2x4 with a bevel to give me a flat surface to attach the track to?? What other options are there? Since the casings for the other two doors are so close to where I want the door, will there be enough clearance for the bifold to open and close and not get bound up on the other casings?? If there are other options to provide some sort of closure to the top of the stairs, I would welcome other ideas short of putting up one of those ugly accordian folding curtains, which is what I just took out.

Many Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Just Bill 04-16-2011 06:26 AM

Doors that open into a staiwell are not a good idea. Stairs have enough safety issues, so no need to create another awkward situation. Opening into the space on the other side is better, but if it must be into the stairwell, a bifold is easier to open than a standard door.

tcleve4911 04-16-2011 06:32 AM

Yes to the beveled 2x4 or make it a double door (mr & mrs)with hinges on each door.

m1951mm 04-16-2011 06:43 AM

I am doing this for a client. I am a painting contractor with just enough carpentry to get me into trouble. The client feels that the stairway to the unfinished basement is a hazard with the thought of heating issues. I am dealing with only a 38" square floor space. As you walk in a door from the garage to the imediate right is a door going to the kitchen and to the left is a door going to a bedroom. Straight ahead of you is the stairway to the basement. I removed an old vinyl accordian door and now the client wants something in its place. What is my best option??

Many Thanks

tcleve4911 04-16-2011 06:59 AM

Will 2 - 16" double doors work?

m1951mm 04-16-2011 07:16 AM

The thought of Mr and Mrs doors is an interesting one. I am dealing with a light switch only 2" of wall space from the edge of the casing of one of the existing doors to attach the hinge side of one of the new doors, that is why I was thinking a bifold might be a better option pivoting from the side without the electric.

tcleve4911 04-16-2011 07:29 AM

Just trying to help here...

You CAN install a bifold using just hinges and no top track.

A lot depends on how often he will use the door.
If this is just to help heat loss and not be opened and closed every day, this might work well.

...but the hinges have to be strong.
The doors need to be hollow core or light weight.
The door will sag over time.
He may have to lift/guide the door while operating it.

....still better than an accordion door.....

m1951mm 04-16-2011 07:37 AM

I do like the idea of a bifold with STONG hinges and no top track!!!! I could add 1x3 material, (which would bring me out to the casing depth) mortise for regular door hinges and attach to the wall and mortise the hollow core bifold. Good idea. Thanks

tcleve4911 04-16-2011 07:41 AM

You are welcome.

Just remember that if you are doing this for a client, be sure to talk to him/her about their expectations.
Be open about how the door may sag overtime.

I did one like this where I installed a small roller on the back side of the door to help support the door during operation.

rjniles 04-16-2011 08:25 AM

Seems to me that a bi-fold door is a poor choice if you are concerned about heat loss. Big gaps around the edges and no way to weather strip.

Is there not enough space to install a standard 32" interior door opening into the hallway?

tcleve4911 04-16-2011 08:32 AM


Originally Posted by rjniles (Post 630424)
Seems to me that a bi-fold door is a poor choice if you are concerned about heat loss. Big gaps around the edges and no way to weather strip.

Is there not enough space to install a standard 32" interior door opening into the hallway?

OP already addressed space issue. She needs the smaller swing.

You CAN weatherstrip a bifold
Interior stops and an astragal over the seam.

There are no "big gaps" with a hinged bifold. It wall have the same margins as your prehung door.

bob22 04-16-2011 10:01 AM

How do you close it if you are in the basement side?

Tizzer 04-16-2011 01:14 PM

If you hang a bifold with no top track, what keeps the door from swinging thru the door way? The non-hinged part seems like it's just floating around.
This being done for a client, whats to say if he/she looses their balance at that door and tries to steady by resting against it.
Down the stairs they go....

tcleve4911 04-16-2011 07:40 PM

Hey Bob & Tiz.....

You guys are do it yourselfers......

There's ALWAYS a way.
Do I really need to address your questions......?

oops ...sorry
are you thinking of doing this in your own place....?:laughing:

Gary in WA 04-16-2011 09:53 PM

May want to check with local AHJ. The stairs may be part of the escape route from the basement. This may limit the door size/type. Do know it cannot swing over the stairs..... Nor would you want any kind of tripping track on the floor. I would hate to steer you wrong telling you a solution that could cause an accident or death because it didn't meet local fire Code.


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