Interior doors can bring dramatic change to any room, creating quieter space and adding privacy. A pocket door is a type of interior door that offers excellent solutions to people with small rooms and open-plan spaces that need more privacy. These stylish, practical, and space-saving doors have long been popular because they “disappear” into a wall. So there’s no swinging door in either adjoining room. Pocket doors should ideally glide easily on the overhead tracks to open up your space, whether small or massive.
As living spaces become smaller, home designers, builders, and owners are constantly looking for innovative and beautiful ways to make their rooms spacious and appealing without spending thousands on home rebuilds and remodels. This Is where pocket doors come in! They are an excellent solution, especially for contemporary open-plan floors, because they can be closed off or left open to create a flowing layout.
If you are considering installing a pocket door in your home or business, this buyer’s guide is a must-read for you. We’ll cover everything you need to know about pocket doors, from size and style to material and finish. We’ll also explore insider secrets to installing one, so you can enhance the functionality and elegance of your property with their simple but practical design.
Ready to become the primo of pocket doors and open up a whole new dimension of space-saving door design? Read on!
What Is A Pocket Door
A pocket door is an internal sliding door consisting of a conventional overhead rack that allows it to slide into a hollow wall cavity known as a pocket. Unlike a hinged door that swings when opening, a pocket door simply glides into a pocket recess within the adjacent wall, completely disappearing from view when fully opened. This saves a lot of space since you don’t have to leave empty, unobstructed areas of up to 10 square feet or more for a traditional door to swing in.
Pocket doors were popular in affluent neighborhoods from as early as 1950. However, these historic doors were bulky, noisy to operate, and notorious for sticking, or even worse, falling off their tracks. But today, pocket doors are sleek, streamlined, and super stylish to give the impression of planned elegance. Their rollers and rails have been redesigned to offer smoother gliding and longer service life.
Image: MC nally joinery
Pocket doors are hung from the top using a rail. If your space has no predesigned recess for the pocket door, some minor demolition may be required to create a path for the door. Fortunately, you can get a completely adjustable, smooth-rolling, and easy-to-install pocket door made of solid wood, plywood, glazed wood, or tempered glass.
Image: Lewis & Weldon Custom Kitchens
Some of the common locations to install a pocket door system include:
- Powder room or small bathroom
- Between kitchen and dining room in an open floor design
- Between a dining room and living room
Why Choose a Pocket Door?
Pocket doors allow you to create modern and contemporary spaces that offer privacy, functionality, and versatility. There are several reasons why you should choose pocket doors over other conventional doors:
- Create and maximize space in small rooms and tight spots where a hinged door could occupy too much floor place.
- Make a sleek design statement that adds a little grandeur and ‘wow’ factor to a room and blends seamlessly with your space
- Add safety and privacy between rooms and hallways that can easily open up when needed
- Create versatile and convenient connections between two separate rooms so that they may be joined as needed.
- Create a minimalist space where crisp and clean lines are a key feature.
Image: Patrick Ahearn
How to Choose Pocket Doors
There are several consideration you should take when choosing a pocket door. These include:
· Installation location
The most important consideration when choosing a pocket door is identifying where it will be installed. Are you looking for a security door or one that elevates the style in your space? Or perhaps you’re just looking for a space-saving door solution that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Are you looking for an internal or external door system? Well, whatever the use, there are various options to go for.
The most important thing to remember is that nearly any conventional door design —flush, panel, louvered, glazed— can be used as a pocket door provided the sliding mechanism meets the structural needs and integrity of the door system. You may choose from wooden, solid, steel, barn, glass, or curved doors.
· Style and Design options
Your pocket door selection can change your space’s feel, layout, and elegance. When selecting a pocket door, pick a design that will match your home’s aesthetics and interior décor. If you are simply looking for a door that saves space in squeezed rooms and areas, go for a simple but practical design. Select a more elegant and ornate design if you want to make a statement in your living and dining space.
Besides, since you can get stylish doors made of solid wood, plywood, glazed wood, or tempered glass, pick a material that compliments your space and style. Glass paneled doors can add oomph and brightness to your room, making it seem larger and more elegant while louvered pocket door can add a contemporary feel to your space.
There are various types of pocket doors. These include single, double, bifold, barn, single/righe/double glass, cavity unit, smartrobe, and special custom pocket doors. All these doors types have their unique strength, durability, security, soundproofing, weight, and fireproofing capabilities that influence their use. Ensure that you choose a pocket door type that fits its use and application.
You must assess if you have enough “sleeve” on one of the adjourning walls where the pocket door will be retracted into. How big is your rough door opening? If, for instance, you have a 32-inch wide space, you’ll want to ensure that you have an extra 32 inches of free linear wall space and still leave some extra space for the leading edge.
Size also plays a massive role in determining the type of door type and design to use. If you want to separate a wide space between a room, lightweight, hollow core doors are usually suitable. On the other hand, you may use a heavier, solid door if the space is small. To determine the appropriate door size, measure the space width, height, and depth and ensure that the rough opening is square, plumb, and in the same plane.
· Extra Kits and Hardware
Pocket doors are offered either as kits or as pre-assembled units. If you are going to buy individual components, you’ll need to decide the kits’ type, design, safety, and sound ratings. On the other hand, pre-assembled doors are sold with components such as a pocket door frame and jamb, hanger track, and pre-made cage that, when finished, becomes the pocket.
You may also need handles, fascia, flush pulls, fittings kits, and soft-close mechanisms to add refinement to your door. All these come in various designs that will determine your chosen door’s weight, size, and width.
Planning For Your Pocket Door
Before you start shopping for a pocket door, you’ll need to determine that you have enough room. Ensure that you have a free wall space bigger than your rough opening. To do this, first, measure the width of your rough opening and multiple by 2. This should be the least available space of your rough opening and adjacent wall.
Fortunately, there are several configurations to minimize the size of the cavity if you don’t have enough space:
- Install 2 doors that glide into one cavity on one side of the wall.
- Alternatively, have a double door design that retracts on either side of the adjacent walls.
- If you have two rough openings leading to 2 adjacent walls, consider creating a wide enough cavity where the two adjoining pocket doors can slide into.
- For a more elegant design and have enough room, go for curved doors that slide into both sides of the curved walls
Then, ensure that your adjacent wall is free of any HVAC system, wiring, switches, and sockets since these will only complicate your work and make your remodeling more expensive. If you have switches and sockets on the adjacent wall, you’ll want to determine how they will be accessed, ensuring that you maintain practicality and functionality.
The last thing to consider is whether you intend to have wall hangings on the cavity wall. You’ll lose the wall surface, meaning that you can’t have hooks like those used in a closet or bathroom. Why? Because, with the door frames in the wall, it will be unsafe to hang anything on the walls using screws or nails that might go deep and potentially impact the use of the door.
All these key considerations will help determine if you need a pocket door or not. Unless you are pre-planning to have a pocket wall in a new build, installing a pocket wall in remodels and renovations require more thought and planning. Depending on your space, you may DIY or choose a professional installer or contractor to ensure the job is done right the first time. This ensures that you get a long-lasting, hassle-free, and easy-to-use pocket door that compliments the appearance and style of your space.
The Bottom Line
Pocket doors offer a very open, seamless, and stylish look consistent throughout the home. These timeless door system designs are now available in different sizes, styles, materials, and designs. So, you can be sure that you’ll get a pocket door that suits your space, character, and lifestyle.
Whether you are pre-planning to install a pocket door in a new build or would love to elevate the look and feel of your existing space through a remodel, a pocket door is an excellent choice. By installing one of these units, you can add an extra layer of comfort and privacy to any space. While installation can certainly be accomplished through DIY, having an extra pair of experienced hands is always helpful.