How to Make Shoji Doors From Sliding Doors

Written by mark morris
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Oriental shoji screens are a staple of Asian architecture. With their clean lines and warm translucent lighting, they are becoming more popular in today's clean, minimalist designs, even in the West. If you have sliding doors in your home or office that you want to replace with shoji rice-paper doors, there are beautiful kits available--for a hefty price, and requiring expert installation that will cost even more. Why not try a simple DIY solution? It won't cost an arm and a leg and is easily reversible if you don't enjoy the shoji look after all.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Aerosol glass frost
  • Masking tape
  • Enough ¼ by 1-inch screen moulding to complete your design
  • Paint or stain
  • Brush or roller
  • Woodgrain door kit (optional)
  • Graph paper and a pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Jigsaw or handsaw
  • Adhesive caulk

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  1. 1

    Make a scale drawing of your doors using graph paper. Be sure the inside measurements of the glass in your doors is accurate so that your design will transfer back to the door without difficulty. Study a few shoji designs and choose something you like or let their ideas inspire your own original design. Draw the design on the glass area of your scale drawing, making note of the number and length of pieces needed to complete the design.

  2. 2

    Using your graph paper design as a template, measure and cut the pieces you need to lay out your divider design from the 1/4 by 1-inch screen moulding. Make two sets for each door, one for the front and a mirroring set for the back. Tape your pieces to the glass to double check dimensions, adjust any ill-fitting pieces. Stain or paint pieces to the desired colour following the manufacturer's instructions.

  3. 3

    Clean the glass panel of your door on both sides. Tape off the edges around the glass in the sliding door to avoid overspray and frost the glass. Follow the instructions on the can for best results. Make sure to use even strokes to keep the frosting as even as possible. If both sides of the door get equal visual attention, you may want to frost both sides.

  4. 4

    Mark the positions of your pieces lightly in pencil before gluing them down. Using adhesive caulk, such as liquid nails, run a narrow bead down the middle of each piece. Carefully place each piece in place, pressing them down to set the adhesive. Use masking tape, tack the ends to hold them in place while adhesive dries. Repeat the process on the back side lining them up carefully to avoid shadows.

  5. 5

    If your doors are not wooden, a wood grain stain kit can be applied to almost any surface to give a richer, warmer finish. They are available at your local home centre or in the resource section of this article. Follow the manufacturers instructions to get the best results.

Tips and warnings

  • Test frosting and woodgrain stain on a test piece before applying to the door.
  • Allow enough time for the adhesive to become tacky before pressing into place.
  • Keep leftover stain and frosting handy to touch-up scratches.
  • When using aerosols make sure to provide adequate ventilation

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