Who has pocket doors?

hunziNovember 26, 2008

Hi y'all!

We're putting a pocket door set in where there used to be an old set of pocket doors (removed by a PO (all spit on the ground and curse now)).

The old doors were probably 8 or 9ft tall and heavy. I can see the hardware in the pockets, but the doors are gone, and the pocket was shortened on one side by PO. The new doors are standard height, and we're going with 10 light glass (2 x 2ft) to maximize the light in the house. PO had removed the doors and "modernized" with plaster/drywall arches. Can you tell we do not love PO? ;-)

What I need help with is with photos of the trim details! For those of you with 100yr houses, can you take photos of your pocket doors? What I'm looking for is the detail right at the door, is it trimmed on both sides with stops over the casing or is the door flush with the casing when all the way open? In other words when the door is in its pocket, is there a smooth plane or is there a bump out in the middle for door stops on either side?

I'm especially interested in photos/thoughts from people whose walls/doorways are on the thick side. My wall this door passes through is about a foot thick so I think stops in the middle look a bit funky, but DH insists that's the way it's done. We have to know and decide before we finish framing so we make sure the doors sit at the correct depth.

Any and all thoughts and photos are appreciated!

Always ;-)


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Pocket door casing did not usually have stops.
the edge of the door is flush with the casing when the door is on the pocket.

Before doing a lot of work, check the hardware carefully.

Older doors often had rails set in the floor that the doors actually rode on.
A few scissor mechanism also existed that attached to the far end of the pocket.
Modern quality hardware uses a 'C' shaped track with the opening facing downwards. The door is hung using 3 or 4 wheel bogeys that cannot come 'off the track.'

Jonhnson Hardware makes the quality stuff now.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jonhnson Hardware

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 2:16PM
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How old is your house & what kind of hardware can you see in the pockets? If yours is new than antebellum, it's probably different than mine, but maybe this will help.

My 150 year old has no hardware showing in the walls except the floor track on which the doors run. My doors (when open) extend about 1' outside of the pockets; instead of having the usual hidden locking hardware, there is a mortised lock & doorknobs. Mounted on the trim at the top of one door is a cast iron stop to prevent it from going past the center of the opening, although there isn't one for the other door. The small piece of trim acting as the stop is the only thing holding the doors in place; there are wheels mortised into the bottom of each door that run on the metal tracks. Each door is approximately 9' tall & 4' wide. Since the room is only 14' wide, obviously this is why the doors don't go fully into the walls but whether this was the usual design is anybody's guess. Most of the hardware appears to be original probably because the doors stayed in the open position for most of the time & didn't get really beat up by the slum lord tenants!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 3:03PM
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We decided to do No Stops on the casing.

We aren't using the old hardware because it was made for a much larger door. Since then, the POs have altered the wall with the pocket, got rid of the original doors, and shorten the doorway to 80 inches.

We'll put in a pair of simple 10 light doors using the old pockets and preframed Johnson hardware. It will give us the feeling of pocket doors without losing the light between the front rooms.

Photos when we're done!

Always ;-)

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 5:52PM
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These are ours:

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 6:46PM
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Oh julie those are beautiful My home was NOLA and family still there. You are a lucky one. c

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 7:17PM
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Mom's house was built in 1903.

Four pocket doors, two singles and a double.

Also VERY large, and clear American Chestnut.

They have the iron rail with wheels from which the door hangs.

Very similar to this picture from Old House Journal online...

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 10:27PM
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Oh how I love those doors!

My old hardware doesn't look like that. It's heavy like that, but the arm between the door and the wheels is very long, maybe a foot (my ceilings are 10'7" so maybe that has something to do with it).

I'm not sure I can get a photo of the hardware anymore, since DH has the new pocket framework in place.

Always ;-)

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 12:27AM
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One trick for preventing door sway in the closed position is to place a section of aluminum angle on the floor of the pocket and cut a narrow groove in the door bottom.

The plastic guides that come from Johnson will eventually scratch the door.

I just finished a set of dual operating pockets about a month ago for a customer.
They are massive 8 foot tall 8 panel doors.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 10:04AM
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The ceilings in Mom's house are 10 feet tall. Each pocket door is probably 9 feet in height, maybe a bit less.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 10:51PM
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Thanks for the tip! Can you elaborate a little more on your idea? Are you using the aluminum angle like a rail that the door rides on? Do you route out the groove? How long is the aluminum? Just a few inches or the whole length?

I propped the doors (Jeld Wen, Pine, 10 lite) up in front of the opening today to get a feel of how it's going to look when finished. I love it! I would have liked the original doors better, I'm sure, but these look good.

I haven't broken the news to DH yet, but we're going to put a second set of pocket doors (matching) between the hall and the DR! I've already bought the doors. At least I also bought him a reward of new tools to do all the work with!

Always ;-)
chief planner, purchaser, and procurer of cheap labor

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 1:37PM
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I use a 3 wing slot cutter in a router to cut the groove, stopping it before the show edge of the door but running it all the way out the pocket edge.

A piece of aluminum angle about 6 inches long an inch back in the pocket is all you really need.

It need to be far enough back to not hit the portion of the door that is not routed, but still capture the door when it is closed.

To keep the trim pattern on the door centered when it is closed I usually attach a piece of wood to the pocket edge of the door.
This piece will allow the door to still capture the angle when closed.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 2:15PM
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I was following you right up to that last sentence. I just can't visualize what you're saying!

I think the angle is a great idea. We're trying to figure out how we could implement it, since we can't get either a hand nor a tool into the pocket with the frame in there. (We slid the pre-framed versions into the old pockets which were wider, so no open walls.). DH doesn't think he can just mark the floor and put it in first, because everything has to line up perfectly. (Personally, I thought that was what measuring tapes were for....)

Thanks for all the help and ideas!
Always ;-)

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 5:34PM
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1910 Farmhouse
No pulls, push to spring door out, 7' tall oak with removable side panels to allow access to hardware. Disregard the paint (curse & spit on PO!)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 12:01PM
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"I was following you right up to that last sentence. I just can't visualize what you're saying!"

The door needs to be wide enough to have a few inches remain in the pocket, with the angle in the door bottom groove.

You can purchase a slightly wider door. and it it has no trim it will look fine.

I have seen any number of newer pocket doors with four and size panels that are not centered when the door is closed, swing like crazy, or have scratches in the face from the plastic guides.

I often convert doors in older houses.
No one wants to loose even 1 inch of door width, so my routine has been to add a strip of wood to the pocket edge of the door.
As long as the joint is even it really does not show since at most it comes flush with the trim on the pocket side jamb.

There are even kits now to make double pockets move together.
I still use steel ball bearing sheaves and 1/16 inch aircraft woven steel cable to make them up though.
A few brackets to attach to the top of the door and the system will work for a long time.

They look spectacular when completed and working.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 8:50PM
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I don't have any helpful suggestions, but I'll attach a photo of my pocket doors. My house is a 1900 colonial. You can see the track on the floor, and that the doors are not flush with the moulding when open. On the right side of the door way, we removed the moulding to fish out some old books and magazines that the previous owner had crammed behind the door.
I have no walls in the kitchen for one more week. This allows me to see the inside of the wall behind one door. If that photo would help you, I'd certainly take it for you!
Good luck,

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 7:08AM
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Photos are always good! If you can take one, please do! ;-)

Always ;-)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 9:53AM
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warning! Long post with photos!


I want to say how thankful I am to have someone with your experience take the time to help the clueless like me!

I've just had one of those "stop the presses" moments. Usually, when we do anything new on this house, I research the whole thing to death about 1000x before anyone picks up a tool. We all know, that's a good thing.

Somehow with this set of pocket doors, I broke that rule.

We already had plans to put in a couple of pocket doors in our basement we're finishing, so we had some preframed pocket kits (Johnson)just lying around. They seemed easy to install, but neither of the current planned doors was a converging pair, just singles.

When DH said we could finally paint and finish the LR, I convinced him to add back doors in the old pockets I knew were hidden in the wall.

Now I'm beginning to suspect that we jumped in too soon and are making serious newbie mistakes because converging doors (especially as the showcase doors in the main part of the house) require considerably more skill to install!

Firstly, the rough opening to the LR is 47in wide, and the one side of pocket area available is just big enough to slide in a 24" pocket frame The math seemed to work for 2ft doors (there were doors there previously) so it all seemed to work, and it does!), but now I'm beginning to see that a couple more inches depth might be really useful! Especially because when you mentioned the cable-opening system, it triggered a memory of "good pocket doors", and I realized I'd really like that feature, but DH says there's no room in the pocket to add it!

Secondly, we were planning to just slide a pair of preframed tracks into the wall and connect them in the middle. I read in another post you made that this isn't the best plan. Right now, I have 2 24in preframed tracks(non-Johnson because DH wanted to do it "now" and didn't want to cut down the larger units we already had, so I went to Menards and picked up 2 Pioneer Millworks preframed tracks, even though they used chipboard for the backstop and the header the track attaches to instead of plywood like the Johnson doors and they felt a bit cheaper because DH said they were just fine.) Now I'm beginning to think we need to change the engineering of the whole track system so they don't meet in the middle and I might be compromising on quality construction (you should always listen to that nagging little voice in the back of your head!).

So what I need to know is, if you were standing in my house, how would you put in these doors? At this point those frames aren't screwed in yet, so I can still take them back and get anything else needed. And while I know DH totally hates the idea of tearing open the LR side wall it's the only way to access the west side pocket from the side, and he's already going to have to tear open the DR side for the set of pockets we'll add going into the hall - no choice there, there's no existing pockets. SOOOOO, if I make a case that we're setting ourselves up for problems and our craftsmanship is lacking with the current construction plan, he'll relent and do it right. (And I'll compromise on my insistence that the room has to be done and painted before Christmas if he wants to put a tree in there! ;-) That plus the boatload of new tools I just bought him (next post) should help ease the pain.)

As for the shortened pocket on the space between the two doorways: originally there was the 48in pocket door set into the LR and either a 30in swinging door or no door at all into the hall. Some PO removed the doors, shortened the old pocket wall, and widened the doorway into the hall to 48in. We were already planning to lengthen the pocket wall between the two areas a couple of inches to ease the installation of the LR pocket, so if another extra inch or two would make a huge difference (like give us room to add the cabling systems for the doors) now is the time for us to make those decisions! If we do that, the DR-Hall doorway would probably drop to maybe 42 or 43 inches finished (currently it is a 47in rough opening to the added 2x4 turned sideways at the end of the pocket to give the LR side pocket a tad more depth.)

One more thing:

The plan for the pair of pocket doorways is obviously for the 2 sets of doors to not be in the exact same plane but both within the plane of the same thick wall (If both sets were open, the LR/DR and DR/Hall doors would bypass each other in the pocket wall)- the doors to the DR/Hall would be set back towards the DR side in the stud wall there behind the LR set's pocket. I know, not ideal, but I didn't think it would look bad.

Opinions welcome, but if I don't put a set of doors on the DR/Hall doorway, it will be the only doorway on the whole floor without doors* and a hinged door of any width doesn't work and I'm concerned that the 2 doorways would look unbalanced if one has doors and the other didn't. *(technically untrue, there will be no doors on the opening between the LR & LIB too but that doorway is a bit wider so it feels like an open wall - we plan to trim it out like the doors, with pine casing and trim)

Lots of photos! Decided it was easier to just give you the link to my album on Photobucket than load too many of them here! (Which also gives y'all the chance to see how junky/messy my house is! Gulp!)

Thanks again for all your (and everyone's!) help!!!

Always ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Hunzi's House

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 2:09PM
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Not sure the photo link is right. Let's try again.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hunzi's House

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 2:42PM
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This is a little blurb I wrote for another site on the day after Thanksgiving, but I figured I'd share it with y'all, since it's sort of all about the doors/LR project.

Black Friday

I have a rule that I shop from January to November, so I don't have to go near a mall from Thanksgiving to mid January.

I have a good friend who loves to shop on Black Friday. I'd much rather spend the day drinking hot chocolate by the fire and watching movies.

That said, I broke my own rule this year.

We're working on the house right now because I've requested paint for Christmas. When we moved in 15yrs ago and did our initial renovations, we never got around to painting. So I've lived in a very boring house with primer on the walls here and there, because there was always another fire that needed putting out that was worse.

And to make it more complicated, it's not that we could just slap up a little paint; nooooo, we need to repair the old plaster walls, and then there's the missing trim that some evil previous homeowner (hereto known as EPO) removed. Not just any trim, the 5 inch wide custom stuff. I can get it replicated and will evenually, but otherwise I just hit the salvage yards now and then to hunt for some that matches. In 15 yrs, I've found 3 pieces. And then there's the missing pocket doors that EPO removed.

So DH who works 70+hrs/week took off Thanksgiving week to start the project. He's a great guy, but he moves a lot slower these days, - he's partially disabled from his 20yrs service in the military. We moved everything out of the room, and we've taped up the cracks and begun to plaster them. He's also going to skim coat the ceiling to get rid of the texture (same one I argued with him not to put there 15 yrs ago!). He started to installed the new pocket doors Wednesday, but still needs to do the casings, which need custom cuts. The work is killing him, since he has carpal tunnel in his wrists and he can't stand for long periods of time without pain due to problems with his hips and knees which means all that time on the ladder working on a 10.5ft ceiling was very, very bad.

So I noticed a few items in the ads yesterday that might make his life a little easier, and hit the hardware stores today to stimulate the economy.

I bought:

4ft rolling scaffold
table saw & stand
new shop vac
new air compressor plus finishing nailer, brad nailer, stapler, and pin nailer
more bits for his drill
lots of finishing nails & brads
dustless drywall sander and extension pole
dustless drywall sander water filter
new 22in drywall trowel
mud mixer thingie for drill
a few various sanding screens and blocks
4 doors *
9 boards of clear pine for casings

The guys at the hardware stores seemed to be impressed. I think I'm considered a good wife today. DH seemed to think so too. Of course I'm also a good shopper, because I scored some sales, got some things price matched, and haggled for a 10% contractor's discount on the lot.

DH is back at work today, then home tonight around 9pm. We'll have a late supper of turkey leftovers and then maybe get in the hot tub to work out a few of those aches and pains.

*(but we won't mention those just yet, because I haven't told him that he gets to put in another set of pocket doors in the DR, I'll break that news to him after I make a stop to shop at Victoria's Secret)

Always ;-)
knows how to treat a guy right

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 3:24PM
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I was too late to take the picture. Sorry!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 10:56PM
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Thanks for trying!

Always ;-)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 8:26PM
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