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Home Improvement & Renovating

How to Install Series: Pocket Doors

How to Install Series: Pocket Doors

Get rolling with this rewarding DIY weekend project!

When you’re short on space but need the privacy only a door can give, the pocket door is a great solution! It hangs from a track and slides into a “hidden pocket” in the wall when you open it instead of swinging out into your room. This space-saving door is especially useful for small rooms such as bathrooms, ensuites, laundry rooms, and walk-in closets. You’ll have more room for fixtures and furnishings without sacrificing privacy and quiet.

Precision is key to installing a pocket door, so make good use of your tape measure and level throughout the process.

How to get started

If you are an experienced carpenter, you may prefer to build your own frame. Fortunately, you can now purchase complete pocket door kits that have everything you need: detailed instructions, hardware, frame and track system.

What’s the secret to a smoothly gliding pocket door? When possible, choose high quality kits with heavier ball-bearing rollers and well-made hardware to ensure a long lasting, well-functioning pocket door. There’s nothing more frustrating than a pocket door that keeps jumping off the track! Some kits have a soft closing mechanism to avoid loud banging when the door closes.

Choosing a door

You can use any door you like as long as the track can support its weight. Many homeowners opt for a door in the same style as the others in their home for a consistent look. Or you can get creative and use a vintage door or another style. A French door with glass panes would be ideal if you want more light and are not in need of privacy. Stained glass is a beautiful choice if you do need privacy but want something more decorative.

If you want double pocket doors that divide in the centre, you can use two pocket door kits with a special joiner.

Tools you will need to install a pocket door:

  • Ladder
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk line
  • Chop saw or hacksaw to cut aluminium
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Marker
  • Impact driver
  • Drill bits
  • Hex drive
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrench
  • Rubber mallet
  • Air gun or cloth

Materials: (quantity of each item depends on the door size and number of doors)

  • Header track
  • 2 drywall supports
  • Guide channel
  • Steel uprights
  • Hanger body
  • Stop for track
  • Top plates
  • Hardware to pull, close and lock door
  • Rubber bumper
  • Screws, hex, lock nut washer
  • Door slab
  • Door lock
  • Sheet rock
  • Sheetrock joint tape
  • Joint compound
  • Drywall screws

Step #1
You already know where you want your pocket door. Make sure it is not a load-bearing wall before you start, and if it is, you will need to properly support the wall before removing any studs. In some cases, you may need to check your local building code to avoid any problems.

Check that there is enough space in the pocket for your door to fully slide in. Look for obstructions such as electrical wiring, plumbing pipes or fixtures as well as built-in shelves or cabinets that could prevent your door from fully rolling into the pocket.

To detect if there are studs, wires, or other obstructions, knock on the wall, hammer a nail into the wall in a discreet part of the wall, or use a stud detector. Keep in mind that you will need about 4” of space in the pocket for a 2” wide door.

Step #2
Purchase your pocket door system and choose your door. The space for the pocket will have to be twice the width of your door plus an inch. Carefully measure the space, width and height, to ensure you have the right size pocket.

Step #3
Now you are ready to make the opening for your pocket door. If the wall is a partition, and not a load-bearing wall, you can start by removing the old door frame and wall. Cut the studs with a saw to make the opening for the pocket door and header. Remove the drywall from both sides of the wall where your pocket door frame will be installed.

If you are adding the pocket door in a new build, make sure you measure carefully to build the frame for your pocket door. Floors sometimes slope slightly, so it’s a good idea to measure from the highest part of your floor to the top part of the frame location.

The most important part of installing a pocket door is to make sure the opening for the pocket is square, plumb and in the same plane.

Step #4
Install the header. Some kits have an aluminium header or you can use wood. You would need to fasten brackets on each side of the opening, then fasten the header into the brackets.

Step #5
Follow the assembly instructions carefully to install your pocket door slider kit. Many manufacturers also have great instructional videos to help you.

Track: First, cut your track to fit your pocket door space. Insert the hangers and track stops at each end of the track.

Install the track by dropping it into the headers on each side, checking to make sure it is level. Securely fasten it with the hex screws and bolts.

Make a chalk line on the floor and make sure it is plumb. Then fasten a floor jamb onto the floor. Fasten the foot brackets, evenly spaced.

Fasten the steel uprights into the foot brackets, and drill into the track, making sure they are level.

Instructions for the door:

Fasten the rubber bumper to the side of the door about 40” up.

Screw the two slotted fasteners to the top of the door, each 2” to 2 3/4” from each top edge of the door.

Hang the door from the hangers. You will need to turn the door a bit diagonally to insert the top slot into the hanger. Gently turn and move the bottom of the door into the bottom bracket.

VERY IMPORTANT!

At this point, you will need to make sure your door is hanging plumb so that it will glide smoothly in and out of the pocket. Adjust as needed.

Step #7
Cover the frame with drywall – this step can be done either before you hang the door or after.

Step# 8
Now it’s time to install the latch to the door and wall.

Step #9
Attach the trim to the jamb and door studs, then paint!


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