Need to make a small room seem bigger? Tired of the footprint taken up by the door swing? A pocket door could be the perfect solution to these problems. Pocket doors are sliding doors that "disappear" into the wall, taking up no extra space in a room.
Save yourself about $500-$1,000 by making this a DIY project. With the right information and a few hours, most homeowners will be able to install your own pocket door.
Gather Tools & Supplies
You can usually find most or all of the materials you need at your local home improvement store, or at a big box retailer like Home Depot or Lowe's. Online shops like Amazon may offer alternatives as well.
- Tape measure
- Screwdrivers (both flat and Phillips-head)
- Miter saw
- Pocket door
- Hardware kit
- Finish nails
- Drywall adhesive
- Drywall screws
- Joint compound
- Wood trim
Before You Begin
No one wants to discover a problem in the middle of a construction project. Before you start:
- Find out if the wall is load-bearing. This may change the type of header you need to install
- Confirm that the wall is wide enough for the pocket door when fully recessed. Average pocket door measurements range from 30"-36" wide and 80"-84" tall.
- Identify the position of any wiring or pipes running through the wall, to avoid cutting them
- Check the frame kit instructions for the size of the header you need, if it's not included with the kit. Heavier doors might call for a longer header.
- Remember that door weight affects the hardware and installation. Some frames will support a door up to 175 lbs, but others may have a limit of 75 lbs.
- Consider buying a door with its own hardware kit, so you can be sure of an accurate fit.
Remove Existing Door
If you have an existing door in the space, you will need to remove it.
- Start by taking the door off its hinges.
- Use a saw to cut through the nails on the jamb to get it out.
- Remove a piece of the drywall above the door so that you can install the header.
Cut Wall Space
With the old door removed, you can cut a hole in the drywall next to the existing doorway for the pocket. The total space should be about twice as wide as the door. If the pocket is not deep enough, the door will not recess completely into the wall.
Install the Header
In order to put in a pocket door, you need to install the frame.
- Start with the header, which is a piece of 2x4 board that will provide support for the door.
- Cut it to the correct length, as needed.
- Attach the header and track assembly and confirm that it is level.
- Fasten the end plates to the wall studs on the side.
Place the Split Studs
Preparing an existing wall involves removing the studs where the door will go. You must replace them with split studs, which offer space inside for the door. Usually, you will install the split studs into the sole plate or bottom of the wall frame. It may be possible to put in the stud floor brackets directly to the floor, but you might want to consult an expert before doing so. Once you confirm that the studs are level, you can attach them to the brackets and the header.
Prepare and Attach Pocket Door
Before you can hang the door on the frame, you must get the door ready. This may include:
- Painting or staining the door
- Installing door lock
- Attaching hardware
Put the door on the track and test it for function. Make sure that it hangs level, as this will affect its movement.
If the door seems to be working well as installed, you can take it off the track and set it aside temporarily. If you have created appropriate space in the doorway, you should not have trouble putting it back in later.
- Put in new drywall to cover the pocket.
- Use appropriate adhesive and drywall screws to secure the wall.
- Cover the joints with drywall tape and a thin layer of compound.
- Add extra layers of drywall compound as needed.
Install Door Trim
It’s important to follow manufacturer instructions for the placement of the door trim. The materials you need may come with the door or require additional purchase.
When you install the trim, confirm that you have the right equipment. You will likely need 16-gauge nails for the jamb, which are thicker and longer. Manufacturers may recommend using 18-gauge nails for the casing because they will provide support that is easy to hide.
A pneumatic nailer could help you place the nails without damaging the casing. You need shorter nails for the casing so that they do not create a barrier to the channel in the split stud.
Place Pocket Door
After you have completed the jamb and casing work, you are almost done. Paint the new wall and jamb as desired. Rehang the pocket door and confirm that it runs smoothly.