Pocket doors have been around for centuries. They were a standard feature of upscale homes in the early part of the 20th century but gradually went out of style and were replaced by the swinging doors we're all familiar with. However, there are a lot of positive benefits to a pocket door and modern pocket doors are easy to operate, as well as quiet and strong so you may want to think about pocket doors in your home.
Why install a pocket door
A pocket door will save you about 10 square feet of floor space in a room (over a swinging door) so they're a great feature in a small room. Just think about a situation of a small powder room or half bath where there really isn't enough space for a door to swing into the room and having the door swing out into a hallway is inconvenient.
Or there could be occasions where even though there is room to swing a door, but there really isn't enough space for the open door. Typical examples might be a laundry room or a small mud room off the kitchen where people could be in the room when someone else is trying to get in. The swinging door can be a real 'pain'.
Pocket doors can also improve the quality of life for anyone who is mobility impaired or in a wheelchair. Simply sliding a pocket door to the side is much more convenient than having to maneuver around a door that swings towards you or opens away from you.
Finally pocket doors can provide a divider between two rooms (think living room and dining room or family room and home office) that is not only practical but elegant.
Things to consider about installing pocket doors
Pocket doors do require a large frame.The framing needs to be large enough to accommodate twice the width of the door since when the door is open it's actually inside the wall.
While it's possible to install pocket doors in an existing home. it's much easier to build them into a home under when it's under construction or a major renovation.
Installing a retrofit pocket door means opening up/demolishing a wall and rebuilding it with the pocket door frame built in. While not beyond the skill set of an accomplished DIY'er the demolition will create a lot dust and mess.
While a modern pocket door kit can provide a quiet, easy to operate and trouble free door, you do need to ensure some details
Look for a pocket door kit that includes metal wrapped studs that won't warp or twist over the years. You also want to get strong trucks (the part that attaches to the top of the door and slides back and forth in the overhead track). It's possible to get kits these days that guarantee the trucks won;t jump out of the tracks so it's well worth paying a little extra for this guarantee and knowing you'll have years of trouble free operation from your pocket door.
The framing of a pocket door is vital and needs to be square and plumb with the top of the frame perfectly level. If the framing isn't right, the door will always be troublesome, so good construction is a definite requirement.