Framing a Pocket Door
Old House Journal|October - November 2020
Framing a Pocket Door
For rooms where space is at a premium, pocket doors neatly slide in and out of a wall cavity.
Lynn Elliott

Old houses often have pocket doors between main rooms, as a way of opening the space or creating privacy. They fell out of favor in part because of their reputation for sticking or jumping the track. New pocket-door kits have a smooth roller operation, and the ready-made frames make installation easier. Today we’re more likely to install them in such tight or small spaces as a bathroom or pantry, where the arc of a door swing would be awkward. With some TLC, a salvaged door (or one original to the house) can be rehung to slide into a pocket. Pocket-door kits are for doors 1 1 /8 to 1 ¾ thick. Modern track systems are made of aluminum—lightweight and stable. Wheel assemblies in the hanger roll on nylon wheels with ball bearings for smooth, quiet operation. A bumper at the rear of the frame keeps the door from sliding too far into the wall. Floor anchors keep it from rattling and maintain a proper distance between split jambs. Check that the kit's header is the right size for supporting the weight of the door. Supported weight can range from 75 to 175 pounds. Look for removable roller tracks that are jump-proof. The nylon wheels should be at least 1 or larger, and self-leveling. Look for four wheels per hanger; three-wheel systems are less stable.

You need two flush pulls and a recessed edge faceplate with a pull. When choosing pulls, consider whether the door will need a locking option. C-notch pulls are easy to install and affordable, but the small locking mechanism in the handle may be hard to operate. Mortise sets often function easier, but installation is more complicated.


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October - November 2020