Pocket door installation for an existing wall

Almost everyone loves pocket doors. They’re cool, the way they disappear inside the wall, and it’s great to save the space in  a room that a swinging door uses.

Not everyone realizes how much work is involved in retrofitting a pocket door in an exisiting wall.

There are excellent kits made by Johnson, and other companies, that make the task easier. This is still a job that you should have a fair amount of carpentry skill to tackle.

How to retrofit a pocket door in an existing wall:

1. Decide on your door opening size and order or purchase the correct kit for your door size.

2. Demo wall section- You will need to demo the existing wall far enough to allow for you to inset the pocket frame. If your door is 3′ or less, then you can do 4′ or less, that way you’ll     cover the framing with one width of sheet rock later.

3. Install pocket door frame- The Johnson kits come with instructions. You’re basically putting a pocket in place of the stud wall, with a track for the door to roll on. Remember to              allow for 3/4″ jambs on both sides of the door opening.

4. Hang door- Rollers mount to top of door and hang on a metal track provided with the kit. Be sure your door is not warped, or it will             rub on the pocket frame!

5. Sheet rock- Hang sheet rock over the new frame. Be careful to use screws that are short enough that that won’t penetrate                   through the frame and scratch or scrape the door with their pointy tips. This will be hard to correct later, once the wall is re-                assembled.

6. Trim- Trim around the new door installation. Be careful about penetration here too. Use nails that won’t go through the frame and into the space       where the door needs to slide.

7. Install door hardware- Many lumber yards stock pocket door pulls and latches nowadays. If you want tomething fancier, there are online sites that sell reproduction hardware. (Links below.)

8. Prime and paint.

Helpful resources for pocket door hardware:

Johnson Hardware, for ordering pocket door parts online.

House of Antique Hardware for specialty and reproduction hardware in a variety of finishes.

Hardware Hut

Johnson hardware video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5NEjGEGxiQ

Popular mechanics article going more in depth with demo and framing.

My ebook gives in depth coverage of the process of installing a pocket door in various situations, complete with pictures. It’s only $5.

pocket door frame in new construction

About Mark Cool

Carpenter, Musician, Blogger, father of 2 great kids, Durham, NC.
This entry was posted in Doors and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Pocket door installation for an existing wall

  1. Pingback: How much are pocket doors?

  2. Pingback: Can I use any door for a pocket door?

  3. Dave Thompson says:

    Do you have a kit to install a pocket door and only remove one side of an exsisting wall? Or can I modify your kit and remove only 1/2 of each of the wall studs?

    • Mark Cool says:

      You can remove only one side of the wall and install any of the Johnson or other available kits. Give yourself enough room when you demo to be able to work inside the wall to cut out framing, install a header, and install the pocket door kit.

      You’ll need to sawzall the fasteners with a metal blade from the side of the wall that you’re leaving intact to in order to remove the studs.

      If it’s a bearing wall, be sure to have some temporary jack studs available for support as you build and install a header.

  4. Mark Cool says:

    Hey Bubba,

    When I sketch out the measurements you’ve told me, it looks as if 61″ rough is fine.

    The jamb on the latch side shrinks your total space to 60 3/4″

    You want your studs on the pocket side to sit 30 1/2″ from the latch side stud. This gives you 29 3/4″ finished opening for your door (hiding the pocket side door edge by 1/4.”)

    From the finished pocket side edge, you want 30 1/2,” 30″ for your door, plus 1/2″ for the rubber bumper.

    61″ should be fine.

    Once you have it framed and the track mounted, you can test your door before closing the wall. It’s fairly easy to move the stud where the bumper will hit, or to shim the bumper out so that your door is even with the edge of the jamb when fully closed.

    Good luck!


  5. Mark Cool says:

    Hi Steve,

    I don’t have any videos of that operation ready to upload.

    You’ll need to mark the wall for the space you need for the pocket, remove the sheet rock, and then remove the studs to allow you to install the pocket door kit. Determine whether you wall is load-bearing beforehand so you’ll know whether to jack it during demo, and how to size your header.



Comments are closed.