ProVia French Door Installation Tips and Tricks

March 25, 2019


This 3-part video series leads you through the important first steps in the installation of a ProVia French Door -- tips, tricks, and adjustments.

The videos in this playlist cover ProVia's French door installation and troubleshooting. The first video covers prepping the door and the opening: the second video covers installing the french door, and the third video. The text below is a transcript of each video.


First Video: Prepping the door and opening

1/ Remove the packaging

To begin the process of installation, you have to remove all the packaging. Also, we want to remove the slats off the bottom of the door. These shipping braces are very important to protect the door during shipping and while we're transporting it to the job site.

Once they're removed, we're going to set the door up and take a quick look at the margins, because what we want to do is make sure the margins are good at this juncture and make sure we inspect the door and look at it for damage. Let's review the margins across the top and down this side above and below the hinges to make sure they're close to where they need to be.

Things are going to sag a little bit because we're not installed but let's make sure things are right now. Anything that stands out that's wrong, now is a good time to get it fixed. We want to leave the plastic on the doors at this point to carry it, put it in the opening, and start adjusting the door systems. We'll take it off later in the installation.


2/ Check that the threshold is flat and level

Now that we've got the door unpacked and prepped, and ready to go in the opening, we're going to go ahead and take a quick look at the opening. One of the things we're concerned with is the threshold area. The threshold needs to be as level as it can be, but since we're tearing the old door out, a lot of times we have to replace product here, it's a good time to level this up. We want to make sure it's level and very nice and flat.

The last thing we want is this sill undulating as we're trying to put something on top of it. So, prep your sill area very well, make sure that you're above the soldier course—if there's a solider course. Make sure you reinforce underneath the sill on the outside if there's nothing there to hold the exterior of the sill.

Once you're done with that and have that where you need to be, we can go ahead and check the plane of this. When we speak of a plane of the frame what we're talking about is getting this jamb and this jamb on the same plane. On a single door, if that doesn't happen, the door peeks out of the jam a little bit at the top of the jamb on the strike side or the bottom of the jam of the strike side.

With a French door, we've doubled that problem. When you twist that frame out of plane, you get one door going one way and one going the other way. The control of the door this direction is a little bit easier to handle. The other thing you have to be careful of is when things aren't level underneath we want to get them level because your frame can be off this way.

So, pay attention to the threshold, pay attention to the plane of the frame up front, it'll solve a lot of problems for you.


3/ Check the framing for plumb and in the same plane

And what we're going to do is check the studs on both sides to see what the level tells us here—if they're on the same plane.

It's very important that they be on the same plane. If they're not (which they very seldom are), then you will know by checking this what adjustments you have to make during your installation.

Now once you've checked that out, we know we're level here, we're done. Then you're going to flash this unit off. Do your flashing, your sealing, back caulking—we want to do a dry fit, and then we're going to back-caulk this thing.

But now we're just going to set the door in because we want to get to adjusting this product so kind of skip them through that and the hi-bred kind of way and on to the installation.


Video 2: Installation

Place the door in the opening (leave the plastic on for protection)

Now we're going to set the door in the opening, and the person on the inside will center it in the paint lines inside the opening.

Then from the outside, Conrad is going to put a screw in the head casing to adjust as I adjust the door on the inside.

I've still got the plastic on. Once we get the doors even at the top in the middle, then Conrad can throw a screw in.


Adjust the door until even at the center

We're going to go ahead and adjust the doors and get it even in the center; we want to get this as even as possible on the top. Once that's done, we're going to come back inside and remove the plate which was installed on the door before it was shipped because there was not a deadbolt in this door system. If the door has a deadbolt and lock set, then the dead bolt would be installed, and that plate will not be in place.

Next, remove the plastic off of the doors—not by cutting around it, but removing the screws out of one hinge at a time and then just sliding the plastic up and then replacing the hinge screws.

When we opened the door, out rolled a dowel rod. The dowel rod helps to space the bottom of the door away from the threshold for shipping.


Check and then adjust the plane of the door

With the door in the opening, the first thing to check is the plane of the doors. We want the jambs in the same plane as the doors. To check that, open the door a smidge and look at the margin from the top to the bottom. This one decreases slightly. 

Conrad is going to use that margin and do that check all the way through the installation.

But before we start anything else, we're going to get this thing in plane. To do that, he's going to make some adjustments in the frame. He's got a couple of screws to the brick mold so now we're just making some fine adjustments here to make up for that.

It is critical to get the seals at the bottom, top, and center to seal up correctly.


IMPORTANT: Adjust the plane early in the installation process

Remember, the plane of the jams are exceedingly important. After the door is installed there's very little you can do to correct it except for pulling everything apart and re-hanging the door in the opening.

Whenever you're putting these screws in, don't be afraid to pull one back out, adjust, and re-insert. Make sure things are right before you go further.


Shim the hinges, and screw into the framing

Every one of our doors comes out with a bag of screws. There are four screws that go into the hinges; two in the top hinge, one in the center hinge, and one in the bottom hinge. Those holes are left open, and the screws are to be put in after shims are placed behind the hinges. There's a label on the top hinge that indicates where the screws go.


Start with a smooth shank screw (adjuster) at the top

Begin with a smooth shank screw for use as an adjuster to pull that door up. Note that we're pulling these doors up. The screw pulls the door up just a little bit. 

The top screws are in tension, the bottom hinges are in compression, so the doors are leaning down on them. To overcome that, you have to shim at the bottom locations to roll that door back together.


Start the shimming process

This is a process that may have to be repeated as we're proceeding through the installation. The goal here is to get the margin between the two doors down to a 3/16 to 1/8 thickness. He's going to continue to walk this door together. He'll put shims in the bottom. He may pull those screws back and bring them in a little bit further. Now he's going to bring these doors together, but you have to walk them to the top.


Work the four corners of the door

Notice we're working on the four corners of the door. We're not messing with the center hinges at all. The plane is already correct. Notice he also checks the plane as he works through this process.


Make small adjustments as you go

Whenever you put a screw in, whenever you put a shim in, you check your margins, and you check your plane. Slight adjustments are very important. Don't make big adjustments. Make very small adjustments.

This is complicated because on that center door we have surface-mounted strike plates. The surface-mounted strike plates on this astragal create a little bit more of a gap between the edge of the astragal and the edge of the door. The margin here is critical to get as tight as possible; the edge of that active door to the edge of the strike plate.

Throw the bolt, making sure everything flows in nicely to the pocket. Continue to monitor the plane of this door all the way through the installation. We're going to come back later after we're done with all this and lightly shim those center hinges, so we don't pull things out of whack when we put in the screws. 

Now notice what he's looked at here. He just looked at these top margins above the top hinges and below the bottom hinges. These need to be true. If these are depressed at the top (pulled together) on either side, we have a problem with how we've mounted the shims into the door system. Maybe we haven't put in enough shim; maybe we haven't pulled those in enough. That should be a straight margin.

Once he's got his top shims in these doors, then we can go ahead and pull the smooth shank screws out and go ahead and install the all-thread screws that we ship with the package. The screws that we shipped with the package are two and a quarter by number ten screws.


Do not put screws through shims

We don't like to put screws through shims, so the screw location here will be above and below the shim. We don't want to put a screw through the shim because it makes it hard to adjust. A lot of adjusting goes on with this door. Notice every time he puts a screw in, every time he puts a shim in, he's checking his margins and keeping it as tight as possible in the center of that door system.

Our new astragal does a couple of things; we've added a thin here in this location to help support and keep air infiltration and water infiltration from penetrating and coming through. That's helped us in testing. Also, this is a single-activator bolt, so it all comes off of this flip lever in the center. Notice that the bottom of this moves so it'll come down and seal against the threshold, but it's spring-loaded, as is the pin, so these are spring-loaded independently to move as you close it and make a seal on the bottom. In addition to that, when it's thrown the top is also spring-loaded, so it'll move into place, and you don't have to worry about over torquing this lever. When this lever is thrown, you'll see that it holds in place very nicely, so this single activator does a nice job of helping the customer get these bolts thrown correctly.


Shim the top header

We're going to shim the top header down. All the way along this top header you can make these shim locations. Note that your adjustment of the doors came from putting screws to the shims. The header going across here is just trim with weather stripping in it.  

Adjust the margin of this header all the way across with shims in screws. Wherever you put a shim, put a screw. If you need to add a screw or a shim, adjust this margin to make it look nice. One thing we're concerned about when we're making the adjustments is this margin across that top of the other hinge and the margin down this astragal.


Installation is complete

Right now we've finished our installation. We've got our shims and locations all the way around the perimeter of the door. All the margins look very good, so we're happy with the final installation.

Please keep in mind the plane of the doors going in and out were fixed in the front of the installation. The shimming done here has adjusted the other margins around it. Notice the margin in the center of the door is also uniform and that's what we're shooting for. Also, at the very top, we have uniform margins above the frame and the hinge locations.

When you proceed to strike plate adjustment, the dead bolts will already be installed in the door. We've gone ahead and adjusted this deadbolt, so it throws nicely. Then the lock set is installed. To install the hardware and adjust it, so it closes well, we're looking at these latches. These are surface mounted plates. They're on top of this, so they project out from it, but behind here are screws that allow this plate to float quite a bit so it'll move in and out. All we have to do to adjust it is move it and tighten down your screws, and you're adjusted.


Video 3: Adjustments

Now that we’ve completed the installation of our French door let’s look at some additional steps to complete the job.

We’re going to demonstrate here what happens when we’re tightening down these screws and not shimming it up. We’re going to take this door we’re going to open it up. We’re going to take these screws in one half of a turn of a screw in this top corner and see how it affects this door.

Now, look at the top margin there. You’ve seen that it was very good. The margin above the outside hinge is very good. Now we’re going to take that screw 1/2 rotation and move that hinge over a bit. Just moving that 1/2 rotation, can you see how much more we’ve picked up in that top margin? It's tilted the door up just a little bit and opened up that margin. You can imagine that if you had a half a rotation or a quarter down here, and a quarter down here before you shim that you put some screws in and pull it back, it would be very easy to pull that door that direction, and this door this direction.

The telltale sign of that is the margin above this top hinge. You see how the hinge margin here is fine, but as it goes up, it gets narrower. That frown at the top, frown at the bottom, frown on all four corners means that these doors have been pulled apart as we’re installing them. It’s just that quarter turn to a half a turn of a screw that creates that. So shimming them up, shimming them in, and making sure that margin is right in the center is critical.


Educate the customer

A very important aspect of finishing this project is the interaction with the customer. We need to make sure they understand how to use this astragal and using the astragal comes pretty simply. It has to engage in the bottom bolt. This door has to be flush with the surface of the threshold on the inside here but that’s not something that just happens, it’s something the customer has to do. So as you’re showing the customer, bring the door open, bring it to shut and allow them to bring it and make sure the pin on the bottom is going into the hole, so it’s secured very well.

If it’s on the inside, it’s not going to float to this side and float in the hole, but once you get this bottom piece in and you make sure it’s secure, then if you need to, bring the top in and latch it.

If it does not fit in the hole properly, the customer can be fooled, and you’re going to get an air infiltration call because this bolt is going to go to the outside slightly. Since this is all spring-loaded you can still throw this, so now we’ve thrown this bolt, but it’s not in the hole.

What happens is the customer then comes and shuts the door and watch this door jump to the outside. So now this is no longer in line with this. The weather stripping is away from the active door. There’s a hole on the bottom, and you’re going to get air infiltration. That pin is now latched on the outside of that threshold cap, and that causes air. They don’t even know what’s happened, but we have to instruct them to make sure that we throw this bolt into that hole. Make sure it’s in the hole and then the customer is ready to go with this door.

Thank you for watching our three-part series on French entry door installation. As you can see, your success depends on your attention to detail.  


—This video is from ProVia, one of ProTradeCraft's advertisers. See all of ProVia's content here.