Remodeling 18: How to Install a Pocket Door

A pocket door is so named because the door slides into a pocket in the wall and disappears, leaving only its leading edge visible with a little hooked pull showing to close it.

The framing of a pocket door is a bit more involved than a regular door. The rough opening should be the width of the pocket door doubled plus 2 1/2" for the pocket door frame, pocket door width and shim space and 84" for height. For example for a 30"x80" pocket door, the rough opening should be 62 1/2"x84" from the finished floor.

Diagram of a pocket door frame showing jamb, track, rough opening, drywal, metal stiffener, removable strip and pocket.The pocket door frame will come assembled without the pocket door. It will come with a bag of hardware containing the pocket door rollers and wooden pocket door stops, which are strips of wood about 1 1/4" x 80" long. These are cut to length and installed after the pocket door is hung. Just put them in the pocket until ready to hang the pocket door, so you won't lose them.

The pocket door frame is installed in the rough opening at the framing stage, before drywall is installed. The pocket door frame is plumbed, leveled and fastened with shims to the rough opening, make sure the track is level. Attach the bottom plate of the pocket door frame to the floor, just inside the opening. The bottom plates of the pocket door frame is cut out in the pocket door opening.

Drywall is then installed on the wall coming over the part of the pocket door frame, which acts as the pocket. The pocket door frame is the same thickness as the framing of the wall, that is 3 1/2" for a 2x4 wall. Make sure drywall screws that are used are only 1 1/4" long, so they won't scratch the pocket door in the pocket. The pocket door casing is installed in the usual way.

The pocket door comes as your choice to match any design made locally, so it can usually match the other doors in your house. The instructions to install the pocket door are included in the bag of hardware. Simply, two brackets with rollers are screwed into place on the top of the pocket door. The pocket door is then lifted into position in the pocket door opening and the rollers are slid into the pocket door track, which comes as part of the pocket door frame. A plastic door aligner is fastened to the bottom front of the pocket side of the jamb to keep the pocket door centered in the pocket door frame. The wooden stops are then fastened to each side of the pocket door jamb at the pocket side of the jamb, the latch side of the jamb and the header part of the jamb, leave about 1/8" clearance between the stop and the pocket door.

The latch and pull hardware (not included with the pocket door frame) is attached by notching out a chunk of the leading edge of the pocket door at the correct height and inserting the flush pull and latch or privacy lock, if a bathroom door. A latch plate is drilled and notched into the jamb, opposite the latch set in the pocket door. This hardware usually comes with manufacturer instructions.


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