How to Frame French Doors with Sidelights

What You'll Need
Framing hammer
#16 galvanized framing nails
#8 rosin-coated nails
Framing square
Carpenters square
4-foot level
Saw horses
Circular saw
1/4 -inch plywood
Measuring tape
French doors with sidelights

Framing French doors with sidelights is a lot like framing a single door, but with a few added steps. Framing French doors with sidelights is worth the added time because the finished product will be spectacular. The article below will explain how you can frame French doors with sidelights as a do-it-yourself project.

Step 1 – Measuring

Use the measuring tape to measure the height and width of the French doors and the sidelights you are installing. You need to leave extra space for the door jamb (3 gaps instead of 2 gaps). The door jamb is usually 1-inch thick with an additional ¼-inch between the jamb and the frame. Allow 1 inch for the bottom, 2 inches for the top and 1 ¼ inches for the sides.

Step 2 – Cut the Space

The door opening needs to be cut out of the frame of the house for the wall where the door will be located. Mark the location of the French doors on the base plate. Use the carpenter’s square and your pencil to mark the space that you measured for in Step 1. Cut out and remove all of the framing 2x4 in this area. You can also knock the beams off of the base plate. Be very careful to not damage the base plate during the removal process. Remove any exposed nails. You can use a hammer to strike the tips of the nails to drive them down.

Step 3 – Sides

Trim a 2x4 to the size of the distance from the subfloor to the top plate of the existing wall. Place the piece you just cut in place, and then nail it down. Repeat with the other side when framing French doors with sidelights. Use a level to make sure it is all even and level. Repeat with another set of 2x4 to form a double stud on each side.

Step 4 – Bottom and Header

Measure the space between the double studs, and cut a 2x4 to that length. Nail it in place to the bottom plate. Toe nail it into the double stud for added support. The header will be made from the plywood and two 2x6 boards. Nail the 2x6 boards together with the rosin-covered nails, and then cut the plywood to the length and width of the two 2x6's, and nail it on top. Raise the header to the top plate, and nail it in place.

Step 5 – Installation

Framing for French doors with sidelights can be trial and error. Slide the French doors in place, note any adjustments you need to make, and then make them. Add shims to the base, top and sides to make sure it is centered. Use a level to make sure it is not crooked. Trim the shims, and then nail them in place.