Pocket doors are a wonderful way to save space and yet still provide for privacy. In a traditional house, trim and casing is often used to cover or hide many things. In a modern design, we would like to have a clean and simple expression of the opening, without lots of fussy trim adding clutter to the architecture. This requires a custom pocket door installation.
To accomplish this requires coordination.
The typical sequence of construction goes as follows (as relevant for this discussion):
1. Framing 2.Drywall 3. Paint 4. Finish Carpentry (hang doors / wood floors)
To successfully execute a custom pocket door, all of these trades must be consulted simultaneously.
The first issue is the door hardware itself. Many of us have memories of pocket doors that are stuck in the wall and no longer used. To avoid this scenario, start with the best hardware you can buy. Consider the hardware as permanent. You do not want to replace the hardware. If the hardware breaks down over time, the entire wall will have to be opened up to access the door and hardware.
Pocket door kits are available for purchase. They come with the hardware and usually a header that the hardware will be mounted to. These kits will work. But they will not produce the seamless, flush pocket door seen here. The door(s) shown here must be assembled from an assortment of parts, all purchased, but delicately crafted to produce a beautiful end product.
The sequence goes as follows:
The door opening will be built by the framers. However, framers are often called rough carpenters (as opposed to finish carpenters) for a reason. They are trying to build all the walls or the frame of the house in rapid fashion. Doors are the realm of finish carpenters. You will have to micro manage the framing of the pocket door opening to make sure that dimensions are close to perfect. The sides of the door opening must be plumb (straight up and down) and the floor and head (top of the door) must be level. At the time of framing, several pieces of data are needed: the door size, the pocket size (depth, width and height), wall finish material, and floor finish material. An alternative is to have the finish carpenters frame the opening (which requires coordinating the finish carpenters with the rough).
Once the opening is framed, the track can be installed (finish carpenter). The track can be hung from the bottom or the side of a beam. Before the door can be hung on the track, it must be either stained or painted (painter). It is possible to put the final finish on the door after it is hung, but it is far easier when the door is outside of the pocket. Once hung, it is difficult to get to all sides of the door.
After the hardware is installed, the door painted (or stained), and the door hung, the openings around the door pocket can be closed (drywall). After the door is hung, there are several adjustments that can/must be made. The height of the door will be adjusted based in the finish floor. The door must also be adjusted to properly meet the wall (in this custom door, there are no door jambs-the door will come to rest against the wall when it is closed). When the door sits in the pocket (door open), the edge of the door should align with the wall (where the door jamb would traditionally be). When the door is closed, the edge of the door should sit flat against the other door jamb. This assumes that the top of the door (also the track) is perfectly level and both sides of the opening are exactly parallel. If these conditions do not exist, the door will appear crooked in the opening. This is one sure way to ruin a good thing. A level head (top of the door) and plumb (straight up and down: vertical) walls are absolutely essential for a custom door to work properly and look elegant.
In the real world, good framers can get things close to level and plumb. It is the drywall subcontractors that have to work a little bit of magic to finish the areas around the door. The beauty of the pocket door is that, when properly installed, it is relatively invisible when open. To achieve this, the drywall must meet seamlessly at the openings. The walls and the ceiling/floor must be in perfect alignment. When achieved, your eye will move past the opening as though the door is not there. However, if these surfaces are not in alignment, you eye will read the opening as a mistake.
Here are some pictures to help illustrate many of the points discussed above:
A couple of notes on the installation and maintenance: