Installing pocket doors
I am finishing a basement and will be installing two pocket
doors to make a large opening into a den from a guest bedroom. Do
you have any tips for me?
Pocket doors can really convey a sense of openness. Installing
them is easy; however, there are a few things to consider that can
help make your installation proceed smoothly. First of all, depending
on the height of the ceiling and the presence of a support beam
directly above your planned door opening, you may have to raise the
header in order to install a 6' 8" door. Check with your local
building department if you are unable to fit in a full 6' 8"
door size as there may be some local code requirements. When purchasing
your pocket doors, choose a complete system that includes the hardware—and
then check the hardware before purchasing to make sure that roller
parts are readily available and that once the trim is in place you
will have easy access for future adjustments.
If you have to open a wall, it's important to think about the space
where the pocket door will sit. Figure the door width twice and
then add about 4" to that figure to get a rough total area
for the door and pocket. If the wall is a bearing wall, you will
need to install a header. In this case the wall will have to be
wider than the overall measurement required for the pocket door
to allow trimmers for the header.
When applying wallboard to the
frame of the pocket, use adhesive and screws just long enough to
do the job—you don't want your screws to poke through the frame
and go into the door itself, nor do you want that screw point to
scratch the door every time it's opened or closed.
If you choose
to paint the door while it's in the pocket, be sure to paint both
sides of the door, especially if it's got a hollow core. If you
paint only one side, the moisture alone will warp the door. Cut
out for the handle before you paint; you may find it easier to make
this cut with the door lying between sawhorses. One last point—install
adhesive on the bottom of the pocket frame where it rests on the
floor (this, of course, depends on the frame's structure). A strong
bond to the floor will help stop the pocket from movement.
A pocket door is especially great
where there's simply no room for a conventional door's swing. I
don't know all the facts, but why two pocket doors? They will take
away wall space from either side of the room—unless you have
a purpose for this. Instead, install one 2'6" or 2'8" door. That will give you enough room to move furniture into the
room. Normally pocket doors are used when you don't have wall space
for a door to swing up against.
If you have such a wall, I would
recommend a pre-hung door that would swing in and up against it.
If you are building this room, install a closet on the wall that
divides the bedroom from the den. Hold the closet back about 3 feet
from the corner. That way you can install a door with either a left-
or right-hand swing (up against a partition or the closet end wall).
Check out my book, Remodeling A Bathroom, page 13 for an idea of what I'm talking about when it comes
to the swing of a door.
There is one other thing to consider: make
sure this new bedroom has a means of exiting directly to the outside
through either an approved egress window or a door from the bedroom
directly to the outside. You'll need a building permit to finish
this unused area.
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Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.
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