In Defense of Louvered Doors (and How to Repair One)

Built in 1966, my house comes from the latter half of the mid-century modern craze. It has a few features that some might associate more with the ’70s, like these lovely louvered doors.

People have been known to disparage louvered doors, and no offense to them but they are simply wrong. Let’s take a minute to appreciate these retro pieces of history and learn how to repair a cracked louvered door.

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Wood Is Beautiful

Mid-century modern wood louvered doors

My louvered doors have a walnut finish. The dark grains of the wood contrast with the surrounding grasscloth wallpaper.

Mid-century modern homes are known for bringing the outdoors in with natural materials like wood and stone. The louvered door is no exception. Walking by my louvered doors is like stepping through the forest, if the forest had an organized supply of fresh towels and linens stored in its trunks.

Wood grain of louvered door

Privacy + Air Flow = Win

Louvers provide privacy while allowing airflow and light. That’s form and function all in one pretty package, providing ventilation to closets across the world. The mid-century modern movement featured many stylish screens that separated living areas while still maintaining flow. Add louvers to the list of heroes in this category.

History and Style

According to The Free Dictionary, louvers have been around since at least the late Middle Ages when they were used to ventilate turrets. That’s right, castles had them.

In the middle of the 20th century, louvered doors made their way into modern ranch homes, and I’m glad they did so. Anything that’s good enough for a castle is good enough for me.

Mid-century modern hallway with louvered door closet

How to Repair a Louvered Door

The louvered door is the understated workhorse of the modern ranch. So when one of my 50-year-old louvered doors started to crack and break, I was heartbroken. I thought we might lose an irreplaceable feature of our house.

Bi-fold louvered doors can start to come apart around the hinges over time. Our door was cracked at the top hinge. With each open and close of the closet the crack was expanding, causing some of the louvers to fall out. Luckily, Eric knew how to fix it.

Repairing a louvered door


Louvered Door Repair

  1. Remove the louvered door, being careful to keep track of the hinges and any other loose pieces.
  2. Set the door flat on a protected surface, preferably over wax paper to prevent any wood glue from sticking.
  3. Make sure all of the louvers are inserted correctly into their slots.
  4. Fill the crack with wood glue.
  5. With a buddy, wrap a strap clamp around the entire perimeter of the door and start cranking the strap. This will close the crack and cause some wood glue to spill out. Pull the strap tight, but not so tight that the door buckles.
  6. Wipe away the excess wood glue with a damp towel, making sure there’s no residue left behind. Let the glue dry.
  7. Put the hinge pins back into their holes. You may need to pound them in with a hammer.
  8. On the back of the door, set the metal plate across the crack. Use a pencil to mark the locations of the screw holes.
  9. Drill small pilot holes with your electric drill.
  10. Screw in the metal plate using flush screws.
  11. Hang your lovely louvered door back into place.
Repairing a louvered door

We happily returned our louvered door to its home in the hallway where it now functions just like before. Shine on, you walnut-finished beauty.

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