Pocket doors are a great idea and provide a number of key advantages over more common swinging doors. Just think about it, a standard swinging door needs an average of 10 sq. ft. of space to operate while a pocket door simply disappears into a wall, consuming virtually no floor space. When you consider that home construction costs anywhere from $150 to $200 per square foot and standard houses have about 10 doors, that translates into a saving 100 square feet or $15,000 on construction costs simply by using pocket doors.
Putting aside the dollar savings, think about the practical advantages pocket doors provide. Whether the door is open or closed you’ve got space where you can hang pictures or wall decorations and fewer restrictions on where you can place furniture in a room. As well, a door that slides rather than swings is much easier for a person with limited mobility to either open or close.
Choosing a pocket door
- Building a pocket door from scratch is a doable project for a skilled DIY builder, however with the availability of relatively inexpensive pocket door installation kits, doing it totally yourself rather than taking advantage of a kit seems to be taking on more work that is really necessary.
- Over the years, pocket doors (particularly those installed using a kit) have been saddled with the reputation of not working well and a lot of this was due to the materials they used. For example, many older kits provided noisy, balky steel roller that commonly jumped off their tracks
- However, pocket door kits have improved dramatically and new now kits include axle mounted nylon rollers (or even ball bearing rollers) that glide along strong metal tracks designed for long life and smooth operation.
- Most pocket door kits are designed to handle 1 3/8 inch thick hollow core doors that weigh up to 75 pounds, however, heavy duty hardware capable of supporting 1 ¾ inch solid wood doors weighing up to 175 pounds is available. As a result, you can install pocket door using virtually any interior home door (flush, louvered, glazed or panel), giving you a wide variety of style options
Things to look for in a pocket door kit
- Pocket door kits containing all the hardware to install the door (as well as instructions on how to actually do it) are commonly available at lumberyards, door and window stores as well as home and hardware stores.
- Since your pocket door will be going in and out of a wall, fixing a troublesome one could be a major hassle. You want your pocket door kit to provide a lifetime of trouble free service, so select a quality kit and don’t let price alone be the deciding factor.
- Among the specific features/components to look for in a quality kit are
- 1 inch (or larger) plastic or nylon wheels
- roller track that is jump proof (and removable)
- self leveling hangers
- metal wrapped studs (strong and won’t warp)
- adjustments that are accessible without removing the door casing.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He can be contacted at [email protected].