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Installing and Retrofitting a Pocket Door

 

Tips on Installing a Pocket Door into an Existing Doorway

 

By Mark J. Donovan

 

Question: Well to start I found your website HomeAdditionPlus.com and its awesome! I have learned a bunch. One thing I couldn't find on your website, or any others, is installing a pocket door. I can find information on installing them without sheetrock hung, but nothing about retrofitting a pocket door into an already existing doorway. Any guidance or tips on installing a pocket door would be greatly appreciated. In particular, is there anything I need to look out for, and are there any specific dos and doníts?

 

Answer: In regards to retrofitting a pocket door into your home, it involves a significant amount of work and effort, as well as a little upfront luck.

In terms of the upfront luck, you first need to determine if there are any wires or plumbing pipes behind the drywall where you want to have the pocket door slide into. If there is, you may want to rethink the whole idea of installing a pocket door, or alternatively get mentally prepared to spend a small fortune in plumbing and electrical contractor costs.

 

 

A visual inspection of the wall surfaces should enable you to quickly determine if there is any likelihood of electrical wires behind the drywall. If there are no electrical boxes you most likely are in good shape, at least from an electrical wire concern.

To determine if there could be any buried plumbing pipes, see if there are any plumbing fixtures mounted on either side of the wall. Also check the basement to see if there are any plumbing pipes directly under the wall targeted for the pocket door installation.

 

Finally, check upper and lower level floors to see if there are any plumbing fixtures that are directly over or under the wall targeted for the pocket door installation. If you see none, then chances are you are in good shape for retrofitting a pocket door into the target wall.

If you do determine there are electrical wires or plumbing pipes to deal with, you may want rethink installing a pocket door, or contact a plumber and/or electrician to see what the work and costs are to move them.

Retrofitting a Pocket Door into an Existing Doorway
 

Assuming there are no electrical wires or plumbing pipes to deal with, there is one more item you need to assess. Check to see if the wall is a load bearing wall. If it is, then you will need to temporarily brace the ceiling while reconstructing the wall framing. In addition, the wall framing will need to include a large header over the door. I highly recommend visiting your local building inspector prior to modifying the wall if you do think the wall is a load bearing wall. He can provide you with advice on how to temporarily brace the ceiling and the type of framing required for the wall.

After assessing the wall and bracing the ceiling properly, if necessary, you can then begin the pocket door installation. Start by first removing the drywall from both sides of the wall, as well as the existing door and doorframe.

Next, you will need to modify the wall framing to support the installation of the pocket door and pocket door tracks. Bottom line, you will typically need to develop a pocket for the door that has a 2" wide slot. Read the directions on your pocket door to see how to properly frame for the door.

 

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Once the pocket door framing is complete, install the pocket door onto its tracks to make sure it slides smoothly and works properly.

After testing the pocket door and determining itís functional, install new drywall, and tape and mud the joints. Instead of using drywall nails or screws, use a construction adhesive for installing the drywall around the pocket door area. You do not want to have drywall nails/screws penetrating into the pocket door slot.

Next, install the pocket door trim and a split doorjamb. You can either buy or make your own split doorjamb. Again, take care where you place your nails to prevent nails from penetrating into the pocket door slot or the pocket door itself.

Finally install the pocket door hardware to complete the pocket door installation project.

 


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- Installing and Retrofitting a Pocket Door -

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