How to Install Pocket Doors - dummies

By Gene Hamilton, Katie Hamilton

Before we get into pocket door installation, it’s important to understand the function and design of this door type. A pocket door slides into a metal and wood cage that is installed as the walls are framed. In some older homes, a sliding pocket door was used to create privacy and separate a living room from a parlor or dining room. The door disappeared into the wall when it wasn’t being used, but was convenient to pull out when needed.

The clever design of a pocket door continues to be a space-saving solution in today’s homes, especially in a small bathroom where a hinged door swing takes up too much floor place. The framing hardware within the cavity of the wall allows the door to slide in and out of the wall, a solution in a room where floor or wall space is at a premium. Now, let’s dive into the required materials required (kits recommended) and the list of steps on how to install a pocket door.

how to install a pocket door

A pocket door is also a good choice for a bathroom for someone who uses a wheelchair or walker because it’s easy to open and close.

Selecting your pocket door kit

Although the hardware can work on any type of door — solid or hollow core or flat or paneled — it’s a good idea to buy a pocket door hardware system that includes the door. For a bathroom, consider a door with a mirror on one or both sides, which is a convenient and useful choice.

You’ll find a pocket door frame hardware system for doors 11/8 inches to 13/4inches thick by 6 feet 8 inches high. The hardware is an improvement over the old-fashioned door in the wall because it can’t stick or come off its track.

The system is made of wheel assemblies that roll in boxed tracks that prevent the doors from derailing, floor anchors that maintain proper distance between the jamb studs, and door glides that center the door as it glides into the open position. Pocket door locks, available in several styles and finishes, are designed with a recessed handle that folds flat against the edge of the door when it is in the recess.

Step-by-step instructions for installing a pocket door

Before you begin installing your pocket door, read the directions for the pocket door kit you’re installing to get an overview of the process and what’s involved. All pocket door systems are installed in basically the same way, but the manufacturer’s directions should give you the best advice for installing that particular product.

That being said, follow the list below for the standard process on how to install a pocket door:

  1. Construct the rough opening or modify the existing wall to fit the rough opening dimensions for the door jamb supplied by the manufacturer of the hardware.

    Make sure that all studs are plumb (perfectly vertical) and the header is level.

  2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and cut the pocket door header-and-track assembly to length with a hacksaw.

  3. Install the header-and-track assembly on the top jamb with the fasteners and brackets supplied with the door. Nail the end plate to the wall studs.

    pocket door header and track installation

    Check that the track is level so that the door rolls easily.

  4. Attach the split jamb stiffeners to the floor bracket and then plumb them with a level and nail the brackets to the floor. Nail the split jamb to the header.

  5. Repeat for the second pair of stiffeners, installing them in the middle of the pocket.

    pocket door header and track installation

  6. Paint or stain all edges and faces of the door to prevent it from warping.

  7. Install hanging hardware on the top edge of the door according to the manufacturer’s directions.

  8. Slide the wheel hangers into the track and hang the door on the two hangers.

  9. Adjust the hangers until the door is plumb.

    You can also install the door handle/lock at this point.

  10. Remove the door and then install drywall over the door pocket, using construction adhesive and 1-inch drywall screws.

  11. Finish the joints with drywall tape and several coats of drywall compound.

  12. Reinstall the door and then install the door guides on the inside and outside of the door at the mouth of the pocket.

    The guides, which are adjustable, should center the door in the opening and allow just enough clearance for the door to slide smoothly.

  13. Nail the two-piece side and head jambs on either side of the door so it is flush with the finished wall surface.

    pocket door split jamb guide view

  14. Use screws to install one side of the head jamb so you can remove the door in the event of a problem.

  15. Install a full-width strike jamb on the opposite side.

  16. Drill a hole and chisel a shallow mortise in that jamb for the strike plate, which the door latch engages.

  17. Install door casing, nailing it to the jamb and to pocket door studs.

    Use 6d finish nails to install the top and strike jamb casing. Use shorter nails to install the casing on the pocket side of the door jamb to prevent damage to the door.