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How to Build the Best Pocket Door

Pocket doors are really convenient when you are tight on space, but they aren't always the easiest doors to use. The locking hardware doesn't always work right, sometimes the door pocket is flimsy and the doors don't always slide nicely on the track. If you are starting from scratch building a pocket door in a new home or remodel project, here are some tips to help make your pocket door a good quality, smooth operating pocket door.

Pocket Door Track The Pocket Door Track
The first thing to consider with your pocket door is the actual track that the door hangs on. We have some quality Stanley Pocket Door Track Kits or most of the lumber yards and door shops will also carry Johnson Hardware which makes a great pocket door track as well. This track has to be installed in the framing stage of your project, and there will be some parts like the door guides that you'll need to keep track of for installation once the door itself is installed.
   
Pocket Door with 2x6 Jamb 2x6 Framing Where Possible
Having had multiple pocket doors or varying sizes and installation types, I can tell you those that I have liked the most have been framed in a 2x6 wall. The reason why is that a 2x6 wall will give you more strength on the sides of the pocket as well as on the jamb around the door (see "A" in the image on the left). This is especially the case on pocket doors that are taller than the standard 6'8". The reasoning is a 2x4 wall really has no room for framing other than a 1x2 or 1x4. These thin framing members just don't have enough rigidity so the opening can be flimsy. This is most noticable around the pocket opening where the door sits. This doesn't necessarily effect the operation of the door, but it just doesn't feel as nice as a pocket built in a thicker framed wall. Also my personal opinion is that the pocket door looks nicer when open with the thicker 2x6 wall jamb around it. Other things to consider is decor or functional hardware like toilet paper holders or towel bars that might be mounted on one side of the pocket door. A thicker wall will give you that much more framing thickness on the sides of the pocket to mount these items. This is something you often don't think about until you go to mount the hardware and find there really is nothing of substance to mount to.

Use a Solid Core Door.
The type of door you install can also make a difference in how your door operates. We've found that solid coor doors with a little more weight to them glide on the pocket door track better than hollow core doors. The extra few pounds just makes it better in my option. for a standard size door, the cost difference might be $50 or so, but worth the cost - in my opinion. Most door styles are available in two different thicknesses, 1 3/8" and 1 3/4". I like the thicker door, but a solid core standard thickness door of 1 3/8" will still be better than a hollow core door.

Once you get the finish stages, you can install the door in the pocket and add the finish jamb and casing around the door opening. The pocket door track comes with hardware (remember the pieces I mentioned you'd need to keep?) that allows you to adjust the door in the pocket. You want to make sure your door is level on the track and the fasteners are tight - once you trim out the door, it's more difficult to get to the adjustment bolts.

Pocket Door Hardware Options
The last choice you have to make is the hardware you'll use on your new pocket door. There are many options in varying price ranges, however you may be restricted based on how your door may already be prepped. If you have a slab door with no bore hole, you can do whatever style you like best.

Standard and most affordable pocket door locks. Standard type pocket door locks are easily installed by cutting a notch in the edge of the door. These style of locks generally (not always) have an integrated finger pull to extract the door when the door is completely in the pocket. These are our most popular type of pocket door lock.
round style pocket door locks for doors that are already prepped with a bore hole. Occasionally you might re-use a door you already have or the door shop might mess up and prep your pocket door slab with a bore hole. If that is the case, these round style pocket door locks are for you. The are very affordable and the easiest to install if you already have the bore hole. They do not have a finger pull integrated into the lock, so you may want to order a finger pull or edge pull along with this lock.
Mortise style pocket door locks Mortise Pocket door locks are on the high end as far as quality and cost. These hardware sets feel nice, look nice and the operation is smooth and solid. This type of lock will allow you to lock double pocket doors together in the middle while maintaining the same look on both doors. Double pocket door hardware article for more information on these.
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