Pocket doors are great space-savers. They slide out when you need them and conveniently tuck away when you don't need them. While pocket doors work flawlessly most of the time, sometimes they come off track, get stuck, or become misaligned.
Some pocket door problems can be fixed without removing trim or drywall. Most issues require the removal of trim—but it's usually only select areas of trim. Plus, there are ways to remove and replace the same trim without damaging it or the surrounding walls.
How a Pocket Door Works
When you open a pocket door, it looks as though the door disappears into the wall. What appears to be a wall is actually a continuation of the pocket door system. The area where the door disappears is a box made either of metal or wood that accepts the door; this is the pocket door's pocket.
A metal track runs along the top of the door opening, from the open section all the way into the pocket. So if the pocket door is 30 inches wide, the track is actually about 60 inches long.
The pocket door hangs from rollers that ride on this metal track. Some adjustments can be made to these rollers and to the metal track to help the pocket door slide smoother.
Equipment / Tools
- Putty knife
- Pry bar
- Cordless drill
- Drywall jab saw
- Bubble level
- Wrench set
- Silicone lubricant spray
- Replacement door rollers
- Plastic shims
Lubricate Pocket Door Rollers
If the pocket door is hard to open and close, the door rollers may need to be lubricated. Do not use oil or a water displacement lubricant. Instead, spray each roller once or twice with silicone spray. Roll the door back and forth a few times to distribute the spray.
Tighten Pocket Door on Track
Over time, with repeated use, the pocket door track may become loose. The visible, accessible half of the track can be tightened without having to remove the door or the trim.
With the cordless drill or a screwdriver, tighten the screws from below the track. Be careful not to strip the screws.
Remove Pocket Door Trim
Most other pocket door repairs require you to remove some of the trim. It is important to gently remove the three sections of door trim so that they can be reused. Use a putty knife and prying tool to carefully pry away the trim. With the trim removed, remove any nails or brads from the trim by pulling them out from the back side.
Note that you will be removing the two vertical pieces of trim and one horizontal piece that are adjacent to the door, not the three pieces of wall trim.
Follow up by removing the floor guide. With the cordless drill, turn out the screws holding the plastic guide in place at the bottom of the door. You should now be able to remove the pocket door, if needed.
Replace Pocket Door Track
In some cases, you may need to remove the entire pocket door track and replace it. To access the hidden half of the track, you will need to cut out a small section of the drywall next to the door opening.
Cut out a section of drywall about 18 inches wide, 10 inches high, and about 3 inches below the level of the track. With the section removed, insert the cordless drill and use it to turn out the screws holding that section of track in place.
Next, move to the accessible area of the pocket door opening and unscrew the track. Remove the track entirely and replace with a new track.
Save the cutout section of drywall to use as a replacement when later repairing the wall.
Fix Uneven or Misaligned Pocket Door
The pocket door might be in place and slide as normal, but it does not meet the door casing squarely when closed. Also, because of this unevenness or misalignment, part of the door may jut out when the door is open.
With the top pocket door trim removed, use a flashlight to locate the two metal adjustable roller assemblies on the top of the door. With a wrench, turn either or both of the two roller assemblies to raise or lower them. This will move one side of the door up or down.
Re-Level Pocket Door Track
The pocket door might be misaligned or might not slide smoothly, because the track at the top of the door opening is out of level. This can happen as homes age and the foundation subsides. Readjusting the rollers can help but only to a certain degree. If the track is greatly out of level, it will need to be removed and reinstalled level.
With the door track removed, hold the bubble level up against the track's attachment point. If the attachment point is not level, screw plastic shims in place. Add shims in the appropriate places until the bubble level reads level again, then replace the track and the pocket door.