adding caning to louvered closet doors

When we renovated the second story of our house in late 2019, money got a little tight toward the end of the project. So when it was time to make one of the last purchases for the renovation — doors for my new closet — I bought very cheap bi-fold, louvered doors from Home Depot. I figured I’d be forced to do something creative . . . and now, more than two years later, I finally did it!

I have to admit, this project took us months to complete! We started in early spring and finished a few weeks ago. As you’ll see, the tasks aren’t difficult, but there are many steps, and we had lots of downtime while the paint and glue were drying. We basically left these doors in our front yard for weeks, bringing them inside every time it rained. Our sweet neighbors never complained, but it must have annoyed them. We need to make some “thank you” cookies!

Enough blabbering — onto the project! Here’s a list of tools and supplies we used:

  • bi-fold door like these
  • fluted pine moulding
  • small-weave caning
  • primer
  • paint
  • paintbrushes
  • caulk and caulk gun
  • staples and staple gun
  • sandpaper
  • chop saw
  • measuring tape
  • wood glue
  • clamps
  • razor blades

Our first step was to prime the doors using Farrow & Ball’s mid-tones primer.

It’s not necessary to prime or paint the louvers if you’re going to cover them with caning. And I saved additional time by not painting the backs of the doors. (I figure the only people who see the inside of my closet doors are kids playing hide-and-seek!)

After the primer dried, we painted the doors Sulking Room Pink from Farrow & Ball. (We were inspired by Nesting with Grace’s use of the color in her home office. Check that out here.)

I’d bought small-weave caning from Frank’s Cane and Rush (very nice people!). We cut pieces of caning to fit the top area of each door, leaving some extra caning on all sides. Then we soaked the caning in cold water for about an hour. We used the tub and employed and used shampoo bottles to keep it submerged. (This is when you really feel like a DIY-er!)

We placed the wet caning on each door, pulled it tight, and stapled it all the way around the outside of the caning. It’s very helpful to have a buddy help with this. If you don’t use wet caning and pull it tight when you staple it to the door, the caning may buckle and bubble as it dries. Be careful to place the staples so they will be covered by the moulding later.

“I won’t staple you, I promise”

We learned that it was best to cut off the excess caning after we finished stapling and before we applied the moulding. We used a razor blade for this, and it was quick and easy. (If you cut off the caning after applying the moulding, it’s easy to create splinters.)

John trimmed out the top and bottom sections of each door panel with fluted pine moulding. He used a chopsaw to cut the 45-degree angles. To avoid getting paint on the caning, we pre-painted the moulding that would frame the caning.

Then we used wood glue to attach the moulding to each door panel, and we held the moulding in place with clamps while it dried. We repeated this process for each of the eight moulding frames, but we had only enough clamps for one frame at a time. So these doors were sitting outside our house for days while the glue on each frame dried! Patience is not my strong suit.

When the glue was dry, we caulked the corners of each moulding frame, sanded where necessary, and applied another coat of paint.

Then we added some knobs from Anthropologie (ours aren’t available anymore, but these are similar), hung the doors back on the closet, and celebrated!

This project felt like it took forever, but I love the end result. And I love the relatively cheap price tag — I think we paid about $350, all told, including the caning, the moulding, the paint, and the knobs. These doors are the first thing I see in the morning, and they always make me smile!

If you tackle this project or do anything similar to make your bi-fold doors a bit fancier, please let me know! I’d love to see how you put your own spin on it.


  1. Maureen | 14th Jul 22

    The doors look amazing. It gives me such a good idea!

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