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Install a Pocket Door

Construction How-To, Doors, Windows & Doors May 22, 2014 Sonia


Fasten the track brackets to the trimmer stud. Be careful of over-driving the screws and deforming the bracket.

Fasten the track brackets to the trimmer stud. Be careful of over-driving the screws and deforming the bracket.

 

Installing the Hardware

Starting this project in a neat and organized manner will pay dividends later. Create a space for the tools and hardware that’s close enough so you can get them easily—but far enough away that you’re not standing on them. A rolling scaffold is a great organizational machine for this type of project.

For a single door, you typically install a single track. For a double slider like ours, you join two tracks together. To guide placement, snap a chalk line on the floor even with the side jambs. Fasten them together on the floor and then set the tracks in place on the header. Once installed (a helper is a good idea here), fasten the brackets to the jack stud with 2-in. drywall screws. Don’t over-tighten and deform the bracket.

The split-studs, included in the hardware kit, are the dual stud replacements with space in the middle that allow the pocket doors to pass through.

Clips hold the stud assemblies together. Tap them on with a hammer and make sure to orient both studs the same way so the nailing slots face the back of the drywall.

Clips hold the stud assemblies together. Tap them on with a hammer and make sure to orient both studs the same way so the nailing slots face the back of the drywall.

I once got the notion to fabricate my own pocket door studs by making them out of 3/4-in. plywood and some L-brackets, because of a previous bad experience installing a pocket door. The problem was that adding the clips to the bottoms of the studs is a pain. But I found out it was nowhere near as hard as making the studs out of plywood. So, when you’re assembling the split-studs, just take a breath and make sure you orient them both the same way, so the holes (bosses) for nailing the trim line up and are easy to find.

Installing the stud assemblies on the layout marks is tricky because everything is loose and wobbling around, so I use a few tricks to keep them honest. To help keep them right on the line, I drive my awl into one of the screw holes while I pilot and drive the other screw. And, I hold a layout square on the line so I can tell if the stud moves.

Installing the stud assemblies on the layout marks is tricky because everything is loose and wobbling around, so I use a few tricks to keep them honest. To help keep them right on the line, I drive my awl into one of the screw holes while I pilot and drive the other screw. And, I hold a layout square on the line so I can tell if the stud moves.

Once assembled, hold them to the line and fasten. Everything is loose and wobbly at this point, so getting everything on layout—especially if you’re working alone—can be tricky.

Two tips: First, use a scratch awl to dimple the wood where you want the screw to seat, then pilot a hole before driving the screw, especially if you’re going over hardwood floors. Next, drive the awl into one of the bracket holes to pin the brackets on layout. I even put a square up against the stud to determine if it moved off layout. And, for the extra careful, this is the one project outside of metal framing where magnets on your level do something other than pick up screws you don’t want picked up.

One more thing: I’m a huge fan of 6-in. bit drivers as opposed to those 3-in. magnetic bit holders. It’s much, much easier to start a screw with a longer bit driver in situations like this.

When fastening the studs to the top track, pre-drill and countersink the screws to minimize the risk of splitting the wood.