How to Install Saloon or Cafe Doors
Saloon or cafe doors were popular in suburban homes in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, it seemed the sun had set on those swinging portals. But saloon doors have come back. And while they're not nearly as popular as before, they have plenty of strong points that homeowners like.
Saloon doors define spaces without closing off rooms. Even half-length saloon doors are enough to separate a kitchen from a dining room. They're very easy to install, even easier than bi-fold doors. Saloon doors do have their quirks and they're certainly not for everyone. But if you need to quickly add a definitional door, saloon or cafe doors might be for you.
What Saloon or Cafe Doors Are
Saloon or cafe doors are double doors that attach to the left and right sides of the door jamb with hinges. The doors meet in the middle. Saloon or cafe doors never have door handles or knobs. Instead, the user pushes either door panel or walks straight through the middle opening. The hinges are spring-loads to allow the doors to return to their original closed position, without the user having to close them.
Saloon Door Pros and Cons
Easy to install
Safety hazard with children
Hindrance in high-traffic areas
Saloon or Cafe Door Styles
Half-Length Saloon Doors
Half-length saloon doors are between 36 and 42 inches tall. These are the classic doors often found in restaurants or bars. The doors are installed at around the middle vertical point to allow users to see over the doors and to provide space below for pets to pass and to promote airflow.
Full-Length Saloon Doors
If you want cafe doors that cover as much of the doorway as possible, look for full-length saloon doors. At around 70 inches tall, with only a few inches of clearance at the top and bottom, these doors provide maximum privacy and even minimal sound blocking.
Because it's important to see another user who might be coming through the door in the opposite direction, many full-length saloon doors have cut-outs or windows at top.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- 1 electric drill
- 1 drill bit set
- 1 tape measure
- 1 pencil
- 1 pair saloon or cafe doors
- 1 quart paint or stain
How to Install Saloon Doors
Paint or Stain the Doors
Saloon doors are difficult to paint or stain after they have been installed, so do this ahead of time. Place the doors on a clean surface. Sand lightly. Clean with a tack cloth. Paint or stain both sides of the saloon doors.
Install the Top Pivot on the Door
Start with either the left or right side of the door. Begin at the top of the door. The top pivot is a metal rod that is usually located on the top edge of the door. With the tape measure and pencil, mark the location of the door's top pivot. The instructions will indicate the spot to place the pivot. Drill two pilot holes for the pivot, then install it using the provided screws.
Install the Bottom Pivot on the Door
Similar to the top pivot, a bottom pivot must be installed on the bottom edge of the door. Measure inward, per manufacturer's instructions. Drill pilot holes, then install the bottom pivot with the provided screws.
Mark the Door's Vertical Height
Measure your desired location from the bottom edge of the saloon door to the floor. Most half-length saloon doors are about 18 to 24 inches above the floor. Mark this location on the door jamb. Place the mark at the center of the jamb.
Mount the Bottom Jamb Hinge
Drill pilot holes, then screw the bottom jamb hinge on the mark previously made.
Insert Door on Bottom Jamb Hinge
Temporarily place the saloon door on the bottom jamb hinge. It's helpful to have an assistant hold the door to keep your hands free.
Mark Top Jamb Hinge Location
Slip the top jamb hinge over the door's top pivot post. Mark the point on the jamb where the hinge touches the jamb.
Mount the Top Jamb Hinge
After drilling pilot holes, mount the top jamb hinge on the jamb with the screws provided with the door. Do this with the door in place.
Repeat on the Other Side
Install the café door on the other side of the door. Be sure to duplicate vertical placements so that the doors will be matched.