Problem-Free Pocket Doors
Hang pocket doors so they work for a lifetime.
Synopsis: Pocket doors are sometimes a great solution to a space problem. Unfortunately, they can be tricky to install and to align precisely. In this article, finish carpenter Jim Peterson provides a step-by-step lesson in making sure that your pocket doors are installed securely and accurately, and that they remain free of problems for years to come. He discusses how to choose hardware, prep the opening, build the pocket, and prep and hang the door.
Because they’re a great space saver, pocket doors are often the only way to make small rooms accessible. A tiny half-bath carved from an existing floor plan is a perfect example. But pocket doors aren’t just for tiny baths and town-house closets; they’re also a classy way to separate larger living spaces, such as the pair of biparting doors separating the library or dining room in a large manor house. Unfortunately, pocket doors have a well-deserved reputation for being finicky. Sometimes pocket doors don’t line up with their jambs, sometimes they rub on the floor or pocket, and sometimes they just fall off the track.
Some of the frustration builders have with pocket doors is caused by the setup they’re using. Most builders either use a fully assembled prehung pocket door supplied by a door shop, or a pocket-door kit from a lumberyard or home center. Unfortunately, both types have flimsy stud walls made from cheap wood and sheet metal. This makes them susceptible to flexing and bending, which causes the door misalignment and rubbing that builders and homeowners complain about. Rather than deal with these problems, I build my own door pockets and use high-quality European hardware. In the more than 10 years that I’ve been installing pocket doors this way, I have yet to get one callback related to…