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I don’t remember exactly when I saw my first pocket door — it may have been when I went off to a big city for college — but I do remember thinking “Wow, disappearing doors! These are really neat!” And, many years later, I still think they’re neat. I can see a few places in our house (mainly closets) where pocket doors would be a great addition.

If I was going to put in a pocket door or two, I think I would use the kits available from Johnson Hardware. They claim their pocket door frames can be installed quickly in 2×4 timber or steel frame stud walls sheeted with drywall. Tricycle hangers ride in precision extruded aluminum track, and they use zinc-plated steel sides and back on the split jamb and studs uprights. A frame kit for a 36″ wide door up to 80″ high and weighing less than 125 pounds costs around $62 (door not included).

Have any Toolmongers put in pocket doors? What did you use?

Johnson Hardware [Manufacturer’s Site]
Johnson Prod. 153068PF Pocket Door Frame Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Johnson 153068PF [Google Products]

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19 Responses to Pocket Doors

  1. fred says:

    We do a bit of these from time to time.
    Had one customer who could not understand why we could not install a double door set in a spot where the lefthand door was about 6 inches froma exterior wall. We could just not get them to visualize the issue of where the door goes – and that the pocket has to be at least as wide as the door.

    We’ve used the Johnson products – as well as those made by KV. The KV product is a bit less expensive – and we find it works well for closets.

  2. Shalin says:

    oooooh, I’ve been considering pocket doors the space constraints and location of light switches and electrical outlets is what really makes it a problem for me.

    If there’s a double thin door that would take up half the space in the wall but where both “slats” stack up when the doorway is open – I could use that. Otherwise, I can’t use pocket doors.
    –S

  3. AndyT says:

    I’ve put 2 in my house (bathroom and basement utility room), using Johnson both times. They are extremely easy to put in, I would put it at about a 4 on a difficulty of 10. You can put one in with basic tools, and the hardest part is trimming it all out (you’ll have to rip some 1x lumber if not drywalling the jambs).

    Tip: (when using only 1 door), close the door fully and shim the jamb tight to the closed door for a perfect fit.

  4. Geoff says:

    What’s the deal with putting a pocket door in a load-bearing wall? Is it possible? Not recommended? I have a friend who has some sort of generalized, unfocused aversion to the idea, but in the application we’ve been discussing, it’s really the best solution by far. It’s an interior wall that used to be an exterior wall, so there could be an issue with what that wall is supporting. This post makes it sound like it’s a relatively easy project, so if the load-bearing factor isn’t an issue and it would fit in a standard 2×4 framed wall, then I’m gonna keep pushing them on the idea and see where it goes…

  5. Chris says:

    RE pocket door in load bearing wall – just frame the opening like you would a double door with a header.

  6. keith says:

    I used to use the johnson products until an old timer showed me what I think is a better way. Instead of using a 2×4 wall with half studs, he used a 2×6 wall with 2×4 studs on the flat.

    This way there is still a pocket for the door to hide in, and you can run electrical wires through this wall if need be. You also dont need to worry about switching the length of the drywall screws either, since there is 1 1/2 of stud. You also dont need to worry about putting in blocking for the baseboards.

  7. Rembreto says:

    I have a set of pocket doors (about a 5′ opening) in a load bearing wall. The engineer spec’d a gluelam header beam (3.5″x20″) to span the 10′ required for the whole assembly. That beam was around $800 dollars, but still, I like the pocket doors.

  8. David Bryan says:

    Everybody ought to have them on their bathrooms. When we’re all in wheelchairs, we’ll be glad we did. If things like pocket doors can keep you in your house a month longer when you get to the point that things like that matter, they’ve paid for themselves.

  9. browndog77 says:

    @ Rombreto-
    That engineer either didn’t know his stuff, or he was in cahoots w/ the lumber yard! A V-lam of the same dimensions would be stronger and cost about 75% less. The only time a Glue-lam is needed is when the beam is going to be exposed.

  10. ttabob says:

    On a current project I decided against putting a pocket door on the master bath. They are not as natural to use as a conventional door from an economy of movement point of view. It’s a bit tedious to slide the door open and closed every time, esp. in a well used bathroom. A conventional door flows better……you can start to walk through it AS you’re opening it, and then give it a flick closed behind you without spinning around and fumbling for a recessed finger latch.

    Another thing to consider, esp. in a bathroom, is sound control……without a proper door stop on the jamb, the sound can travel through the small gap between the jamb and the door, as well as light. Although you could add a conventional door stop if the track guide is not too wobbly.

    Pocket doors are best as optional doors that are used occasionally or frankly to impress people with. “oooh pocket doors”.

    But for a functional frequently used private door, its best to stick with something that has hinges and a knob.

    @browndog77, I think you could get away with squaring up and finish sanding an LVL with some stain/poly and leave that exposed.

  11. Eddie says:

    My wife loves this type of door. I wish I knew how to go about installing one, for that matter where to buy one.

    I like the 2X6 idea for them. I’m not sure how that would work out in our 1930 house that uses 2X4 for everything.

  12. Brau says:

    Love pocket doors. Take up much less space where windows or short walls don’t preempt their use. Don’t know why people don’t use them more.

  13. ShopMonger says:

    Love me some Pocket Doors……………. But they are a pain to fix…sometimes…. Be careful selecting studs when you make these using 2 x material make sure they are straight and dry, nothing like putting up a wall and having the drywall suck moisture out of the stud and turning it into a potato chip. If you can get LVLS and rip them down, or use metal studs if it is not load bearing…

    Shopmonger

  14. MMel says:

    I put 6 in my house, a double with divided lights for the parlor, a single with divided lights for the dining room and 3 other solid doors bathrooms and the walk in closet.

    When you use a kit, the wall is flimsy at the jam, if you have no other choice they work. I framed mine out as a 2×6 wall on the walls that had the pocket doors and used 2x4s on the flat to frame out the pocket. Solid. You then just need to get a nice track and wheels.

    Leaves a lot more room for light switches and outlets on the pocket wall, you just need to use shallow boxes. Also leaves more room for nice trim.

    Hard to find decent hardware though for the pulls and locks though, unless you use exterior thickness doors.

  15. paganwonder says:

    @ fred- I think I ran into a relative of theirs’- they also had an issue about a 4-0 window in a 3-0 hallway!

  16. Kimber says:

    If the door will get a lot of use, it is worth it to get the heavy duty Johnson 2000 series or commercial duty Stanley hardware if you can find it.
    Leave time for a special order.

  17. JASON says:

    Put in two for my new master bath. Here are a few note from my experience. You can buy just the hardware, but you can also by kits already framed out that you just need to slide into a rough opening. Consider painting the area around the track BEFORE you trim it out – this part shows when the door is open and is hard to reach after it is trimmed out. As mentioned above, consider the noise factor – even the high end hardware is louder than a swinging door. To avoid the “fumble factor” associated with latch mechanisms, consider installing the doors so they don’t completely disappear – leaving them proud of the jam by a couple inches doesn’t really affect getting in/out and this allows you to easily get your fingers into recessed door handle and pull it closed. There doesn’t seem to be anything in between the crap pocket door hardware at the big box stores and the high end stuff. If you are thinking high end, here is a link for you.

    http://www.rejuvenation.com/typepagepocket%20door/templates/houseparts_group.html

    The Johnson Hardware site has installation videos if you want to see how it’s done.

  18. Rich says:

    Is it practical to replace an existing door with one of these? It seems like most applications are new construction (or a substantial remodel). We have a smallish master bath where the inward-swinging door just takes up most of the space.

  19. Nathan says:

    For those wanting to strengthen the wall and are willing to use 2×6 framing, Johnson makes a super-duty, all steel stud frame that is as stiff as a standard stud. It is the 2060:

    http://www.johnsonhardware.com/2060.htm

    Also, for retro-fitting a sliding door, you could always go the exterior barndoor route and slide the door along the wall so you don’t have to reframe a pocket:

    http://www.johnsonhardware.com/wmindex.htm

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