Exterior Bi-Fold Door Details

Advice on how to retrofit 3-foot-wide doors into an existing garage door opening, bi-fold style. July 13, 2010

I've been hired to convert a garage door opening 9' wide and 8' high to the look of a carriage house using traditional doors. Initially the client would like three doors at 3' X 8' hung with one outer door being the everyday door and the other two hung as a bi-fold only to be used when moving large objects. Producing the doors is no problem, however hanging the two bi-fold doors and ensuring they function properly for the next 100 years or more concerns me. Has anyone out there done this before? What issues did you have to consider and overcome?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor M:
The first thing that comes to mind is that the header over almost any garage door I've ever seen sags a lot.

From the original questioner:
The rough opening is in great shape with an ample header. Iím just looking for thoughts on hanging the bi-fold portion of this arrangement.

From contributor S:
Take a look at barn door track and rollers. They have some that have nylon ball rollers in the track which also pivot. I think you could get it to work but I think you would have to have more than two panels that fold, otherwise you will have no center support . You could use some monster hinges in the middle between the two bifold panels but it will take a lot of stress. Having the panels extend out three feet is a lot, unless you had a spring loaded roller mounted in the middle to take the weight.

From contributor T:
What if you were to use a Roton hinge? They are a continuous hinge made for 1 3/4 thick doors.

From the original questioner:
As far as the roller to carry the weight of these two doors, I've seen gate casters somewhere. The only drawback is they look big and clunky and I've never used them so I can't say how well they work.

From Gary Katz, forum technical advisor:
I've done exterior bi-fold doors from scratch and it's very simple. I think it works especially well if you have an odd number of doors, as you will - then the last door can be operated as a single.

I hung the 8 and 10' tall fir custom French doors from heavy-duty Hagar T-shaped track. There are three doors: Door 1, which hangs on the hinge jamb on regular butt hinges; Door 2, the center door, which is butt-hinged to door one; and Door 3, which is butt hinged to door 2 and swings into the lock jamb.

The center door gets a roller in the leading edge. Door 2 and 3 are also wider than door 1 - that additional width is determined by the distance from the jamb to the center of the hinge barrel multiplied by two. That's how you get the roller on Door 2 to line up beneath the T-track - a very critical layout point. I built a mock up to test the thing out before ordering the doors. You can see the mock-up in The Doorhangers Handbook (Installing And Hanging Doors, Taunton Press). I used extension flush bolts to secure Door 2 so that Door 3 could swing like a normal door and yet all three doors could be opened easily. I also installed auto-bottoms in all the doors, to seal the threshold.