Thin Louvered Closet Doors

Ideas for an unusual door project. February 16, 2006

I'm looking for advice on making louvered doors. My customer has what used to be a hall closet and now contains a stacked washer and dryer. It's a standard 32" or 36" opening, but the depth of the unit is not agreeable with a regular door depth. It protrudes out a little bit. I need to make two French doors 3/4" to 1" thick with a jamb to fit in the opening. I've never made louvered doors. I have looked into having them made by a door manufacturer, but haven't had much luck. It's a repeat customer, so I want to work with her, but I'm not sure how. I am a one man gig with a small shop.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor R:
Is the closet drywall? I'd be willing to wager a small amount that the washer/dryer are standing out from the back wall a couple of inches to accommodate hoses/wiring. You might suggest cutting out the drywall to allow the washer/dryer to sit back, thus allowing you to get a couple of doors "off the shelf". Not the most elegant solution, but when advised of the cost difference, she may be agreeable.

From contributor J:
Use shutters. You can get a set of them probably very close to the size you need. They are a tad big - so much the better, just trim 'em to exact size you need.

From contributor E:
Removing the drywall would probably violate fire code. If you've never made them before, believe that they're going to be a headache. I'd search online for someone else to build them.

From contributor T:
There are many wood door manufacturers on the web that make some very nice "French louvered doors with frame" and in a paint grade, the price would be much cheaper than trying to make them yourself, unless you are willing to go into the French louvered door business to recover your setup costs.

From contributor B:
A good way to attack this is to make your louver slat receiver sections separate from the main rail/stile frame. We do this on a CNC router, but it can be done carefully with a template fixture and a plunge router. Say, for example, your upper louver section is 30" high. Cut one louver end receiver at about 1 1/2" thick and then rip it into two pieces, one left and one right. This louver section would be a bit narrower than the thickness of your door, so you can apply it to the inside edge of the stiles once the door is built. By making the louver sections separate, you are able to work with smaller pieces of material and can make 2 in 1 by doing the rip as described above. You can also preassemble the slats into the louvers as a stand alone assembly, and then install that into the completed door frame if you choose.

From contributor K:
Louvered doors require quite a bit of setup. If you value your repeat customer, save them some dough by buying them off-the-shelf and make your money on the finishing and installation. I agree with a previous poster - you may do well to find shutters and install them. Try to measure with the stack installed. A dryer typically needs at least 4" and more like 5" behind it to accommodate the vent hose. If you kink it, it may become a fire hazard, especially if it is a gas dryer.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the input. I looked into it and I think my best bet and the easiest will be buying custom shutters and using them as the panels for the door. The dryer has a side mounted vent, so I can push the unit all the way to the back of the wall, leaving me approximately 1-1 1/2 for clearance of the door. Thanks again!