Pocket doors


I'm designing a residential addition and remodel, and being lured by the siren song of our old friend-slash-nemesis, the sliding pocket door.  There are several places where I'd like to do decent-sized (6' to 8' wide) cased openings, and would really like to have the flexibility to close them off on occasion --with good-looking doors and well-functioning hardware.  (French doors are an option, but probably too unwieldy in spaces where the doors will be open 80% of the time.)

My main experience with pocket doors has been negative: usually at bathrooms, with frequent fumbling at the concealed pull that makes it easier just to leave the damned thing open.  Another downside is the cheap and wobbly feel of the thin, flat-framed wall portions on either side of the pocket, enabling the whole assembly to fit in a 2x4 wall depth.

The answer may be just to buy heavy-duty hardware, and then slip the pockets/doors between two full-thickness 2x4 walls.  But I'm wondering if any of you have found other solutions to this problem.

Stories?  Experiences?  Recommendations?  Thanks!

Sep 20, 14 2:50 pm
go do it


It has been a while since I have put in a pocket door,I avoid them like the plague. But when I did or do I build my own frame out of 2 x 6 studs turned 90 degrees, (flat ways), to the wall, this requires a 2 x 6 wall thickness  and I used some hardware that was supposedly from Germany, don't remember the name. I also used a solid core door and a guide track on the floor.

All this makes for a solid pocket door. Or a "out of pocket door" if it starts costing you money on call backs!

Sep 20, 14 3:29 pm

Touche' on the word play!

Thanks, Go.

Sep 20, 14 3:55 pm

Hafele has a wide selection or sliding door hardware. Nicely detailed, heavily built and fully accessorized with stops and such. You can do it in a 2 x 6 wall but be sure to flat frame with timber strand studs so they don't warp. I routinely use pocket doors and my clients seem to love them. Typically they are frame and panel in a contemporary design with a full inch and three-quarter thickness and custom recessed pulls. The standard spring-loaded recessed edge pull is sufficient.

It's a good idea to provide space to get the pocket door out for servicing. Not that I've ever had to with Hafele but I do have some doors in locations where service would be a major project (full ceiling height and wall-to-wall).

For large openings I've done rolling walls on sliding door hardware and a bronze rail in a recess on the floor. The idea is that when open the 'door' looks like a wall when parked, eliminating the pocket. The advantage to rolling rather than hanging is durability and capacity in both size and weight. Plus you have a much lower profile head detail that is essentially a slot the top of the door rides in.

Sep 20, 14 5:10 pm

With big rolling doors you have to be aware of level floor and ceiling conditions as a large panel traveling a long way will quickly disclose even minor variations. Also settling / framing shrinkage can be a problem if you don't anticipate them.

Sep 20, 14 5:22 pm

Wow, that's a wealth of info, Miles... thank you.  I'd already wondered about repair access, but the leveling issue had not occurred to me.

Sep 20, 14 5:35 pm
el jeffe
only solid core doors and always sheath both sides of the wall with plywood.
Sep 20, 14 6:32 pm

Oh ya if they are big hanging pocket doors be sure you header is heavy enough to negate the deflection loads. Years ago  I did a monster sliding  hanger door where we could not have a bottom rail as Miles talks about above.  I recall ending up with a steel beam with a very large depth in order to take care of any deflection problems.   Some where I have an old hard copy of the working drawings for that project.

Sep 20, 14 7:28 pm
go do it

Hafele was it thanks Miles.

Sep 20, 14 8:06 pm
go do it


With your rolling walls is the concept similar to a barn door but finished to look like a wall? And when it is closed does it project from the wall? Or are they more along the lines of a Japanese shoji door?

Sep 20, 14 8:25 pm

Pocket door walls, at least the good ones, are always based off min. 6" stud width.

We frame our walls out of steel studs turned 90 w/ bracing studs in between.  Use thicker gauge members when using metal studs and/or reinforce with fire retardant treated plywood.  25GA is pure crap and should be limited to only the cheapest commercial jobs.

Always buy high quality sliding hardware from Hafele or equal.

Also helps to pray your slabs and ceilings are dead level.

Sep 22, 14 11:08 pm

Thanks, everyone.  This is very useful.

Sep 23, 14 12:19 pm

Pocket door walls, at least the good ones, are always based off min. 6" stud width.

Actual or nominal?

Sep 23, 14 2:34 pm

16 guage steel stud are difficult to cut so go 18 ga.

Sep 23, 14 9:13 pm

Why don't you try a door steel frame from Best of steel? I have mine from there and I am really satisfied and can only recommend it to everyone who decides for steel frames.

Jan 15, 19 3:02 am

I've done them a few times in commercial applications some pretty large doors too. Go with solid core door and I would use at a minimum Johnson sliding kit which is rated for up-to 400lbs per door (haffle might also make some heavy duty kits but I've never personally spec'd their door hardware). There's also another company that made sliders that were rated for 1000lbs per door and had an integral coordinator so both sides would open equally... I can't remember the name, but really nice stuff. they were a German company that was recently bought by a Chinese company.

But the key is a solid header to limit deflection and sturdy hardware.  

Jan 15, 19 2:57 pm

Good experience with richelieu hardware. 

Jan 15, 19 8:08 pm

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