How to frame a closet in an existing room and hanging a door.
Most women will say that their house doesn’t have enough closets; men never seem to notice. You can take a few feet from the end of your bedroom and add a corner or wall-to-wall closet. Here are the step-by-step instructions. While it may take you a few Saturday or Sunday afternoons to complete the project, you’ll never have to look at those shoes stacked on the floor or have clothes stored in boxes.
This article will focus on framing simple walls and hanging double doors to add a closet to any room in your home.
The framing materials and drywall supplies for a 12-ft. long x 26-in. deep closet cost $120. Six-panel pine doors or bifold doors cost about $350 per opening. You should match the other doors in your house and install identical millwork and door hardware. Closet doors can have a passage lockset or dummy knobs for bifold doors. Also factor in the costs for paint, closet shelving and rods.
You probably don’t need a building permit for the closet, but if you add closet lighting you’ll need an electrical permit. Contact your local building department to be sure.
In addition to basic carpentry and drywall tools, you’ll need a circular saw to cut the framing lumber, a drill to drive screws and rent a power miter box to cut new trim.
You can build closets wherever they’ll fit and increase or reduce the door size to fit narrower rooms. If you’ll be hanging clothes, make sure the closet interior is at least 26 in. deep. Adjust the closet dimensions to avoid conflicts with electrical boxes, heat ducts and windows.
If your room is carpeted, roll the carpet back out of the way and remove the tackless strips in the area where the closet is going. Wear leather gloves as the nails on the tackless strips are very sharp. You can protect hardwood, tile and vinyl floors by taping down 2 layers of construction paper such as red rosin paper or install a layer of ¼ inch plywood or compressed cardboard.
Carefully pry off the baseboard with a flat pry bar so you can cut it and reinstall it after the walls are complete. You can use pliers to pull out the nails through the back of the boards so you don’t chip the face.
Use a stud finder to locate and mark the framing members where the new wall butts into the existing walls and ceiling or you can use a finish nail to find the studs near the floor where the baseboard was removed. Remember that the bottom plate is 1 ½ inch thick so start probing about 2 inches up from the floor. If possible, attach the new wall plates and studs to existing framing members with 3-in. screws. If the wall falls in a stud cavity some do it yourselfers choose to cut out a section of drywall and nail a piece of wood blocking in between the two studs, commonly referred to as a “cat.” Reinstall the drywall you cut out and screw the new closet stud into the cat.
If you plan to add closet lights, locate an electrical box that can provide a power source and plan the cable route. If you’re unsure how to do this, call a licensed electrician to help you wire and install the lights. You may want to remove any electrical outlets that are located in the closet area and cover the box with a blank cover plate. This may also be used as a power source for your light. Run a wire from the outlet box to your new electrical box for the light fixture if you have a pull chain, or to a switch box and then to the light fixture.
String a chalk line for the bottom plate. Use a straightedge or level to transfer the line up to the ceiling. You can use perfectly straight 2x4s when you plumb up from the bottom plate to mark the ceiling. The more plumb the wall is, the easier it will be to hang the door.
Screw or nail the plates into position. On the floor, use 16-penny common nails or 3 inch screws. For the ceiling, if you cannot locate any joists, or the wall falls in between the joists, you can use ¼” x 4” toggles bolts and construction adhesive to secure the top plate to the ceiling. When you use toggles, hold the 2x4 in place, drill the toggle locations about 2 feet apart with a 1/4-inch bit through both 2x4 and drywall. Remove the 2x4 and drill the drywall with a 5/8-inch spade bit where the first bit left a mark. Mount the toggles through the 2x4, spread the adhesive, and press the toggle wings through their holes.
Attaching Top Plate to Ceiling
With the plates installed, completing the walls is a simple matter of measuring for and cutting the studs, door trimmers and cripples to fit. Add about 1/16 inch to your measurements when you cut the studs so you can wedge them in between the plates. This makes it easier to plumb and screw them into place. Attach the studs to the walls with construction adhesive and toggles or by nailing to an existing stud.
Use straight wood for the full length studs and longer trimmers and cut the crooked wood for the shorter pieces. Measure the cripples after you install the header.
Drywall and Paint
If you want closet lighting, rough in the electrical cable and boxes now and have your work inspected before you hang the drywall. Hang, tape and sand the drywall. Then prime and paint the walls before you install the new doors and trim.
Installing the Door Frame
You can install hinged double doors, bifold doors, or sliding doors. When purchasing your doors pre-hung from a lumberyard or home center order doors with 4-9/16 in. wide jambs if you framed out the closet with 2 x 4s and ½-inch drywall. Request roller catches at the top of the doors to hold them shut. If your floor plan does not have enough space for the doors to swing open you may want to consider bifold or sliding doors. Ask for rough-opening dimensions when you order the doors. Bifold doors are a little tricky to install since the alignment brackets for the top and bottom hinge pin need to be adjusted to keep the edge plumb to the jamb. The door height needs to be within 1 to 2 inches of the finished opening. They may need to be cut down depending on how you framed the opening.
The type of floor covering in your room will affect how you install the door jamb. For hard surfaces like wood flooring or ceramic tile, set the jambs directly on the floor. If your floor is slightly out of level, you’ll have to trim the bottom of one of the side jambs to make the head jamb level. If your floor will be carpeted, shim under one side jamb to level it. The carpet and pad will cover up the shims. Allow about 1/2-in. clearance to the finished floor. For thick carpet, you may have to raise the entire door frame with extra shimming. Measure the carpet height and door clearance to find out.
The best way to ensure that the door frame is firmly secured is to shim the door jamb at the top and bottom and behind each hinge location. Always start on the hinge side of the door jamb and make sure that it is level with or slightly higher than the strike side of the jamb. If the floor is slightly out of level, use a shim to raise the hinge side of the jamb. Drive one 8d finish nail through each set of shims and don’t cut them off. Hang the doors again to check the fit. You will probably have to adjust the jamb by moving the shims in or out to get the doors to line up. Your goal is to create an even gap all around the doors. When the fit is acceptable, add a second nail at each location and remove one of the hinge screws and replace it with a 3-in. screw through each of the hinges into the door trimmer stud. Score the shims with a sharp utility knife and snap them off flush with the jambs. Note: Use a screw with a matching finish to your hinges.
If the doors do not close flush with each other at the bottom, either the jamb is twisted because the walls are out of plumb, or the doors are warped. In either case, the solution is to push the top and bottom of opposing jambs in opposite directions until the doors line up. This may make installing trim more difficult, since the jambs will no longer be exactly flush with the drywall.
Shimming a door jamb
Install door trim and baseboard that match the trim in your room. You may want to hire a carpet installer to cut the existing carpet to fit the new closet area.