Installing a Pocket Door (Without Breaking Anything!)

A pocket door can be an incredible space saver.

They’re becoming more and more popular – and installing a pocket door is not as hard as it used to be. There is specialized hardware that is widely available for purchase online or at all hardware stores – it didn’t use to be like this!

Whether you’re building your own home from scratch or doing some serious remodelling in your condo, house, or office – a sliding or a pocket door is a great solution to consider in order to save space.

If you have “inherited” an old pocket door and want to get it up to date, you can easily learn how to remove a pocket door all by yourself without the need to hire a handyman or a carpenter. It’s a bit more complicated than replacing a regular door, but you can do it!


Pocket Door Construction

Let’s take a look at how a pocket door is made. When you understand how the whole thing works, it will be much easier to imagine where and how you can use one. It will also make approaching any repairs or installation easier.

A pocket door is a door that slides directly into the wall. This is much different than a sliding door that slides along the side of the wall. A pocket door is actually internal.

When installing a pocket door from scratch, you do need to get into the wall at the right moment – ideally, before placing any wiring in the frames. When you have your wooden construction up, you can order your pocket door kit and install it properly. Electricity, drywall, and any other finishing touches will come last.

There are many pocket door installation kits available on the market. As with anything, there are cheaper versions and the more expensive ones. Most construction experts will recommend investing in your pocket door hardware at this stage because any broken internal parts can become a serious problem to fix later on in the game. Imagine having to tear apart the drywall in order to replace a broken frame! Yikes!

What if I already have a wall?

If you are late to the game in the construction stage, then you have to remove drywall. You will need new studs and new drywall. You don’t have to take the whole wall apart – just one side. And remember – go big. Don’t be shy about creating the wall opening. The door frame will be much easier to install that way.

Types of Hardware Needed

Frame – this is the frame that keeps the door contained. It will have a track mounted to the top of it, and this is where your door will slide. This frame also protects the drywall from the inside.

Sliders/Carriage – this is the part that gets attached to the door and allows the door to glide along with the frame. The materials used for this can vary, and the kind of quality you get here can make or break your pocket door in the long run.

How can you lock a pocket door? This is quite a common question, and it’s not a stupid one! How do you lock a door that slides? Don’t worry – there are special locking mechanisms that work with sliding doors and pocket doors. Your privacy is safe, even if your pocket door is in the bathroom.

Pocket Door Tricks and Hacks

You don’t have to replace the whole mechanism, cut into the drywall, or even take the door off the track in order to get a little TLC. Sometimes, a change in colour is all you need. In order to paint a pocket door, you have to cover the hardware with painters’ tape and cover the floor below the door well. Of course, it would be a bit safer to remove the door from the track first!

If you want to replace a pocket door and feel creative, you don’t have to replace the door with a …door. Some people love the retro look of older doors, and the fact is – you can replace the sliding door with anything that will fit into the wall mechanism.

So if you measure the size of, let’s say – a beautiful antique door and install the proper hardware to it, you can have a stylish accent in your house without too much construction know-how.

You can also use barn-style doors or regular doors, as long as they measure up. Check out this great example of installing retro-looking doors in a pocket door space – this is a perfect option if you have an old house and want modern solutions with an antique spirit!

Replacing a Pocket Door

If you simply want to replace a pocket door or remove it in order to repair it, you don’t have to tear into the drywall! That’s great news.

All you have to do is lift the door off the sliding track. In order to do that, you have to remove the trim around the door. You will need to do this if your door is stuck off-kilter and you’re having trouble closing or opening it. New doors have release tabs that you can pop open with a screwdriver.

Older J-tracks can be adjusted by lifting the door and adjusting it in the tracks.

To replace the whole door, you have to get the old door out by using the same method – getting the trim off. You will need a screwdriver and some prying tools.

Final Thoughts

Pocket doors are always a good idea – especially if you have limited space in your home. They allow you to put furniture closer to the entryway of any room because you don’t have to account for the “swing space” of a conventional door.

They are useful in any type of room. In the Victorian times, they were often used to separate the formal dining room from the living room or the parlour – the doors would be completely open during a large gathering or a party. They’re not an entirely new idea, but they are becoming more popular than ever.