Install a Pocket Door
Using Pocket Door Hardware, Vintage Doors and a DIY Partition Wall to Close and Open Floor Plan
By Mark Clement
When our 110-year old American Four Square house was built, it didn’t have an open floor plan.
Like most Four Square homes it likely had four rooms on the first floor. At some point in the house’s history however, someone remodeled it, leaving the living room painfully wide open and without walls.
When it comes to the open floor plan, my wife Theresa and I are closed to the idea. It’s not that it’s a bad idea. Lots of people like to see into the other room when they’re cooking dinner or watching TV. The problem is, at least for us, if I’m watching the NFL on Sunday, so is she. If she’s having wine with her friends, so am I. And then there’s kid chaos. Kids are charming, but not 100 percent of the time.
Plus, the open design is kind of a ruse that builders have convinced us we like, which torques me up another notch. With the span-hungry engineered joists that builders will use anyway, the open floor plan is vastly cheaper and faster to build than laying out, framing, drywalling, trimming and installing the doors required for partition walls.
So if you’ve got an open floor plan, want it closed, and you’re looking for a cool way to add doors that take up zero swing room, here’s how to optimize space by closing it in.
Layout and Framing
A primo pocket door project starts with the walls. Frame them in the optimum location for the rooms you’re dividing. Before snapping the first lines I look carefully at the trim details and paint lines I’ll have to deal with later. I make sure there’s enough room for trim, plus at least another inch for a paint line where I know the casing will intersect. Check that door heads are as level as possible with each other and that you won’t obstruct any HVAC.
Once layout is locked down, buy the straightest framing you can find and install it right away. Make sure you’ve read the pocket door hardware manufacturer’s instructions (we used a Johnson Hardware kit for double pocket doors). The manufacturer will provide measurements to get the rough-opening correct. Make sure your wall is straight and plumb, and most of all, that the head jamb is as level as possible—even if the floor isn’t. In fact, the floor in this project changed over an inch in the span of 60 inches. A key control point is clearance under the door. You want at least 3/4 inch for air to flow beneath the door.