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Space-Saving Pocket Doors Making a Comeback

Have you heard about pocket doors? This space-saving storage option is making a comeback and what’s great is that you can do-it-yourself. This can be your next home project. It’s not only space-saving it’s also a great way to upgrade the look of your home.

DIY Pocket Doors To Save Space

Dear James: When I was in college our old dormitory had pocket doors to save space, but they were hard to open and close. I would like to install pocket doors in my current house. Are the new ones any better? — Melody D.

Dear Melody: Pocket doors are gaining in popularity again after they hit their heyday about a century ago. The quality of the newer ones is much better than the ones you were used to. The advent of low-friction and smooth-running plastic materials has made a major difference.

The key advantage of installing pocket doors is the space savings. With today’s tremendously high per-square-foot construction costs, any space savings results in dollar savings. A typical swinging door requires about 10 square feet of unobstructed floor space to swing open and closed.

Check out Space-Saving Pocket Doors Making a Comeback at advantage of pocket doors is that walls are covered when they are open. This provides more room for wall hangings and decoration around the doorway. They also are more convenient for the elderly or someone in a wheelchair to open and pass through. A swinging door requires the person to first back up to swing the door toward them.

Installing a pocket door is not a difficult do-it-yourself project. Unless you are an experienced carpenter, however, I would recommend using a pocket door kit instead of trying to do it from scratch. As you found in your old dorm, if something is slightly out of line or warped, a pocket door can be difficult to open and close.

You should be able to order pocket door hardware kits at your local home center store.

To compare the various kits available, check for the following features:

  • Large, 1-inch or bigger, nylon or plastic wheels.
  • A roller track that is removable and jump-proof.
  • Adjustments that are easily accessed without removing the casing.
  • Self-leveling hangers with three wheels.
  • Side split doorjambs, which the door slides through, wrapped in steel for strength.

If you have trouble finding quality pocket door hardware kits, check with these manufacturers for the names of local retail dealers: Arthur Cox, 800-456-5656,; John Sterling, 800-367-5726,; L.E. Johnson, 800-837-5664,; Ledco, 800-626-6367,; and National Manufacturing, 815-625-1320,

First, read the kit instructions for the recommended size and weight of the door. Heavier doors require stronger hardware kits. If you select a door made of wood, seal all the door edges with urethane. Fiberglass doors are not susceptible to moisture, so sealing is not required.

Make sure the rough door opening, where the pocket door will be placed, is plumb. If it is not, you will likely have alignment problems. If the floor is not level under the door opening, always measure from the highest point. Stretching strings from corner to corner indicates whether the opening is plumb (distances should be equal).

Installing the track that supports the pocket door is the next step once the opening is prepared. Each hardware kit manufacturer has specific instructions, so study them carefully. Next, install the split jambs to create the actual pocket that the door will slide into inside the wall.

Mount the pocket door hardware, rollers, etc. to the door and hang it in place. Install the finishing side jamb and top jamb. Use finish screws that are easily removed for future access to the hardware.

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit

To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

About James Dulley


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