So you’ve decided you want to install a pocket door in your home. You done your up-front planning and made sure you know what you’re going to do with any infrastructure inside your chosen wall and you’ve found a good quality pocket door kit that can handle the weight of your chosen door. All that's left to do is install the door.
Installing Your Pocket Door
Step 1 - Prep
First hang some plastic sheets around the area where you will be working. Your first step is opening the wall and that's going to generate lots of dust but the plastic will help contain it.
Step 2 - Mark Opening
Use your tape measure and mark the rough opening needed to install your new door. Be sure to make the opening a couple of inches wider and higher than your door requires. (In general a pocket door frame needs to be twice the width of the door plus 1 ¾” – so a 32-inch door will need a 65 ¾” frame. (2 X 32 plus 1 ¾”) so add the extra inches to those dimensions.
Step 3 - Cut the Opening
Make your opening by holding your reciprocating at a low angle and cut through the drywall along your markings.
Step 4 - Remove Studs
Once the drywall is removed, cut through the wall studs and remove them.
Step 5 - Build Frame
The rule of thumb for frame height is 85 ¾”, however, check the instructions that came with your kit and follow them. Install your new header so the bottom is at 85 ¾” (or the appropriate height for your kit).
Step 6 - Install Hardware
The hardware track is installed on the bottom of your header. Follow the directions in your kit and cut it to length with your hacksaw. Next install the track ensuring it’s level by placing shims where needed.
Step 7 - Check Level, Plumb, and Square
For your pocket door to work properly the opening needs to be level, plumb and square. You can check for plumb and square by running pieces of string from opposite corners to form a large letter ‘X’. If the strings just touch each other at the intersection, the opening is perfect. However, if there is a gap of more than 1/8” inch between them, you need to adjust your studs to make your frame square.
Step 8 - Install Studs
Once the opening is perfect you can install your door kit split studs. These are thin metal wrapped wooden studs that come with your kit. After installation, they leave an open channel for the door to ride in. The combination of metal wrapping on wood provides strength to the studs while their wooden makeup allows you to attach the drywall using screws. You attach the split studs to the sole plate and header (always making sure they’re plumb).
Step 9 - Mount Hanging Brackets
Next mount the hanging brackets onto the top of the door and slide them into the track. Now, hook the hanging brackets on top of the door onto the wheel carriages and adjust them so the door hangs plumb.
Step 10 - Finishing Touches
Finish the door assembly by installing the latches, pulls, or lock you have selected. Complete your pocket door assembly by installing new drywall (screwed into the split studs – don’t use screws any longer than 1 ¼”), then tape and ‘mud’ it. After sanding, all that’s left is to install the door jambs, trim casing, and finally, paint your drywall.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He can be contacted at [email protected]