One of the best ways to save space in closet or pantry areas is with bifold doors. They are especially useful in areas where swinging doors would require too much clearance space. Bifold doors are available in single or paired units, and rarely come with locking mechanisms. However, just because you need to save space, doesn't necessarily mean you don't need to protect the contents of your closet or pantry. Whether you need a simple childproof lock or a more long-term solution, there are a number of ways to install a bifold door lock using basic tools and equipment.
Locking a Bifold Door With Simple Childproof Locks
With small children in the house, you need to be extra careful to secure doors and cabinets. Use simple zip-tie child locks to keep kids out of a space closed with bifold doors. Wrap each loop of the lock around one of the knobs or handles, then press the two loops together to zip them up and lock the door. Press the lock release to open the door.
You might also want to consider top-mounting child locks to lock single or double doors. These units slip over the folding portion of the door and prevent it from opening. These are especially handy if you are worried about little fingers getting caught in the door.
To install a top-mounting bifold door lock, open the door and place the lock on top of one side. Close the door and slide the lock over to cover the door's folding section. Slide the lock off of the folding section when you want to unlock the door, and slide it back on to re-lock. Some units have integral wands to help users who cannot reach the door of the opening.
Create additional clearance space for top-mounted locks if needed. These locks require about 1/8" of space between the top of the door and the frame. Look for the adjustment screw or nut at the bottom of the door (near the pivots). Turn this screw or nut to raise or lower the doors.
Adding Bolts to Bifold Doors
Use surface bolts at the top of each leaf of a bi-fold door to add more security. These bolts are screwed to the face of the door near the edge that is farthest from the hinge or pivots. The strike for the bolts is installed on the frame or the wall above each door. Users can slide the bolts up and down to lock and unlock the door. Look for extended bolts for shorter users.
Cut out a section of the door casing or trim using a hacksaw as needed to accommodate these surface bolts. You may also shim the bolts away from the door using a piece of lumber.
Adding Keyed Locks to Bifold Doors
For extra security, consider adding either a hinged hasp lock or a padlock to your bifold doors. Add a hinged hasp lock between two leaves on a pair of bifold doors. These locks are keyed to provide a high level of security for bifold units. One end of the lock is installed on the face of one unit, while the other end is installed on the face of the other unit. The hinge between the two lock sections will flex with the bifolds, but will prevent them from being opened without the key.
For a simple single bifold door lock, consider using a padlock. Install a hasp so that one end sits on one side of the folding section and one sits on the other. The lock body itself should cover the folding portion of the lock. Insert a padlock through the hasp to keep the door locked except when opened with a key.
Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.