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How to Convert Bifold Doors into Swinging Cafe Doors

Nothing screams the 1970’s and 1980’s like good old bifold doors. Am I right? I remember living with bifold doors growing up. I also remember they never stayed on their track! We were lucky enough to inherit a few sets when we moved into our rustic beach cottage. In an effort to transform these old things, I’m going to show you how to convert bifold doors into swinging cafe doors for our master bedroom closet.

There are a lot of tutorials on how to convert bifold doors into french doors. The french door look is nice, but we have a small master bathroom and I wanted to maximize space by ensuring that the doors always stay shut.

One of my pet peeves about our bathroom is that the doors always stays open (maybe from our laziness or maybe the broken bifold door hardware), which impedes on space.

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The best idea I could think of was to replace the bifold door hardware and install cafe door hardware (some call it saloon door or butler door hardware). This puts the doors on a swinging hinge that stays shut when not in use.

Before I get ahead of myself with the bifold door makeover and cafe door hardware, let me show you these 1980’s bifold doors.

bifold doors before the makeover

Below is what the doors like like on a daily basis (off track).

bifold doors off track
bifold doors

Below is the hardware I purchased to transform the bifold door into swinging cafe doors.

Bifold door makeover with simple pine wood moulding and cafe door hardware

I purchased THIS WOOD MOULDING from the hardware store. I didn’t want anything too fancy because I didn’t want to draw too much attention to the doors.

I chose to paint the doors the same color that I used when I stenciled the wall in buffalo check. Remember that stencil project?

how to stencil a wall without bleeding

I used a miter saw to make 45 degree cuts to create picture moulding for the front of the door that will face the bathroom. I’ll leave the backside (the side that faces the closet) without moulding.

supplies

I used a tape measure to measure what size I wanted the moulding to be.

After I made the cuts on the miter saw, I laid them out to make sure they fit.

adding moulding to bifold door

I used Gorilla Glue to glue the moulding to the doors. You can also use a finishing nailer.

After the glue dried and the moulding was secure on the doors, it was time to paint!

What do you think?

bifold door makeover with paint and moulding

I can’t wait to get the new cafe door hardware installed and see how they look in our bathroom!

Full video on how to convert bifold doors to swinging cafe doors

How to convert bifold doors into cafe doors

  1. Remove the old bifold door hardware
  2. Measure the door opening and reference the cafe door hardware to see how much clearance you need
  3. Cut the doors if needed to adjust to the clearance specifications for the cafe door hardware
  4. Remove extra moulding from around the door casing if necessary
  5. Follow instructions on your cafe door (or saloon door) hardware to install the hardware on the doors and the door casings
  6. Install the two doors on the cafe door hardware

How I installed cafe door hardware on our old bifold doors

  • The first thing I did was install the cafe door hardware on both of the doors
Installed cafe door hardware on the bottom of the door
Installed cafe door hardware on the bottom of the door
Installed cafe door hardware on the top of the door
Installed cafe door hardware on the top of the door
  • Next I installed the hardware on the bottom of the door frame. I followed the hardware instructions and made sure to allow for about 1/2″ of clearance from the floor to the bottom of the hardware.
Installed cafe door hardware for the bottom doorframe
Installed cafe door hardware for the bottom doorframe
  • Next comes the tricky part; installing the top hardware on the door frame.

Note; the hardware is not intended to sit on the door with the screw holes facing down. Because I don’t have enough space in the doorway to install them this way, I had to alter the installation a little.

You can see below where I’m having to install them with the screw holes facing down.

The top hardware that sits on the door frame needs to be installed with the door attached to it. This is the hard part and requires a special tool.

You can see in the video how I used this tool to install the screws into the door frame while the door is on it.

  • Once the door is installed, make sure it works and the hinges close correctly. When they are open it will look like the picture below.

The hardware should look like the picture below in the closed position and they should automatically close on their own.

After the doors were installed on the cafe door hardware I ran into another small issue- the doors didn’t align properly at the top.

Unfortunately the problem wasn’t the doors, but our floor. We knew that the sub floor wasn’t totally level, but until we hung these door we didn’t realize that they had that much of a slope.

Since I didn’t have any extra space to move the hardware up or down, we will just have to live with this for now.

bifold doors off track

No project is perfect, right?

Let me show you the rest of our modern farmhouse bathroom!

modern farmhouse bathroom with cafe doors

I’m loving how our bathroom is coming together!

bifold doors turned into cafe doors

When you step back and look at the big picture, the small area at the top that doesn’t line up doesn’t look that bad. Or at least that’s what I tell myself, LOL.

bifold doors turned into cafe doors
bifold doors turned into cafe doors
bifold doors turned into cafe doors

I love how the doors don’t “infringe” on the bathroom space when they are open!

bifold doors turned into swinging cafe doors
bifold doors turned into cafe doors

Shelby

Monday 23rd of August 2021

Love this idea! Also love the paint color you chose for the doors. Mind sharing the brand and name of it?

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Monday 23rd of August 2021

Thank you! I believe it's Magnolia Home in the color Shiplap.

Samantha

Tuesday 13th of July 2021

They came out great. They can only swing inward correct? I want mine to swing outward. But I have the same molding:( I think it will hit it?

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Thursday 15th of July 2021

They can swing both ways!

Tracy

Sunday 11th of April 2021

You can purchase a piece of trim to attach to your doors at the top to hide the difference! Looks great!!!

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Sunday 11th of April 2021

Great idea!

Mary Ann

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Great job! I agree that you should not point out the top, it's not a big deal. If, however; you want to try to fix it, why couldn't you use a very thin piece of wood such as from a paint stirrer as a shim under the hardware attached to the bottom of the door?

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Friday 10th of July 2020

Hey Mary Ann, I actually can't raise it anymore because the dowel that rotates is already at the top of the door jamb.

Julia Chandler

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

You are so smart; your skills amaze me. Doors look great! Don’t point out the top!

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Wednesday 8th of July 2020

LOL I'm my own worst critic!