Pocket door for bathroom?

staceyneilAugust 25, 2010

We're remodeling our 2nd bathroom (hall/guest/teen daughter bathroom) and trying to find ways to maximize the tiny space.

We're considering installing a pocket door rather than one that would swing in in the space one stands to wash at the sink. We'd use quality Johnson track and a wood panel door.

I've read a lot of people saying they'd never use pocket doors on bathrooms (too hard to latch shut, etc) and I wonder if anyone can offer any further opinions. In our family we never lock bathroom doors, but for guests or resale, I'm sure a securely latching door is important.

My guess is that the locking mechanism is important: can anyone recommend a good (not super-expensive) model?

Thanks!

Stacey

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macv

Pocket doors are for "normally open" doors not doors that get opened and closed on a regular basis.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 5:16PM
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staceyneil

Thanks for your input. That's one of the things I have read people say.... but I'm looking for opinions based on personal experience. Why do you say that?

...I've also read posts from people who say their pocket doors on their bathrooms are wonderful... so am trying to dig a little deeper. I'll bet PART of it has to do with the quality of the doors. I'm not talking about the cheapo kind from Home Depot that jumps off the single track; I am talking about a higher quality door/hardware set from Johnson.

A pocket door would make the usable space in this tight bathroom a lot bigger. However- if it really makes it a PITA to use, that's not a worthwhile trade-off.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 5:58PM
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brickeyee

"Pocket doors are for "normally open" doors not doors that get opened and closed on a regular basis."

If you use decent hardware they can be used for bathrooms and other frequently used doors.

Do not use anything less than John sin Hardware 111PD level parts.

The biggest problem with the Johnson hardware are the door guides.

They scratch the face of the door.
Cut a 3/32 groove in the bottom of the door (stopped at the show edge) and use a piece of aluminum angle in the bottom of the pocket to guide the door and prevent swaying.

There are decent privacy lock available for pocket doors.

Try Van Dyke's Restorers (I make my latches in my machine shop).

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 7:49PM
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sierraeast

" I'm not talking about the cheapo kind from Home Depot that jumps off the single track; I am talking about a higher quality door/hardware set from Johnson".

That's the ticket as well as what the brick advises!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 9:59PM
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katsmah

A good friend of mine has a pocket door to her small guest bathroom. I don't know what hardware it has, it was there when she bought the house. I don't believe that it hurt the resale value at all.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 1:11PM
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karen_belle

We have pocket doors all over our house.

They close off hallways, like to the bedroom wing, between the foyer and the family room, in the small guest lav between the toilet and sink areas.

We have them for our master closet and master bath. I put one in to close the kitchen off from the DR.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 6:11PM
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edselpdx

We have a pocket door to our only bathroom for space reasons as well, and have no issues with privacy or it seeming strange. I do recommend the better Johnson hardware for the slider mechanism, and have had no problems with Big Orange hardware for the actual latch/lock mechanisms. The 2 Johnson pocket doors we have have never had any sliding issues nor have they ever come off the tracks. I love the pocket door in a tight space.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 12:58PM
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andrelaplume2

If you can afford quality, do it. Otherwise put a regular 24" door. If its still too tight to open for your tastes, pop the door off and put in a bifold...can always pop the door back on for resale. You can improvise a simple hook / eye lock. It may not be the most elegant but if its your bath and not a guests I would not worry about it. Now if a 24" can not swing open under any circumstances.....your stuck with a bad design I guess.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 3:21PM
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kudzu9

We have 2 bathrooms and a powder room, and each has a solid core pocket door. The house is 10 years old and I've never had a problem with the doors. I have come to prefer them to hinged doors. In addition, they give you a little more design flexibility, particularly in tight spaces like powder rooms, because you don't have the issue of blocking any cabinet drawers or wall fixtures as you might with a hinged door. Just remember that you can't mount a recessed TP holder on the wall that the door slides into. As long as you use high quality hardware, you should have no problems. My previous house, built in 1952, had a pocket door to the kitchen that was closed every day, and was still working fine when I sold it a couple of years ago.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 5:45PM
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salmon_slayer

I have them and they work fantastic WITH good hardware

I would encourage you to look strongly at the better Grant hardware and a solid core door

Here is a link that might be useful: Grant Hdwre

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 10:06PM
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suero

We have two pocket doors in the master bath, one to the main area, which has a lock, and one to the toilet compartment, which doesn't have a lock. They both get opened and closed several times a day. We have had no problem with the main door in the three years it has been installed. The other door needed some adjusting, but opens and closes with no problems now.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 8:59PM
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zookeeper93

Our daughter's bathroom has a two entrances, one from the hall (swing door) and one ajoining the bedroom (pocket). My folks put pocket doors between rooms, as karen belle posted above. I let my builder talk me out of putting them between rooms.
I wish I had put one in the master bath, in the toilet compartment, as it is open (really regret that one) as well as the utility room.
Quality is the key.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 7:05AM
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chisue

The only pocket doors in our house are on our MBR closets.(Open virtually all of the time.)

You gain 'swing space', but lose some space too. The wall has to be built out to accomodate the pocket door, and you can't place electical boxes, etc. that would interfere with the operation of the door.

As a Senior, it is harder for me to exert the horizontal pressure to slide a heavy pocket door. (A lightweight one wouldn't feel very 'secure' on a bathroom.) Our closet doors have 'pulls' mounted in the door edge -- more bothersome to fumble with and hard on arthritic fingers. If you open and close via a groove in the side of the door, doesn't the door need to remain partially open so that you can access the 'handle'? (OK if you have a wide entry to begin with, but could be a squeeze otherwise.)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 10:40AM
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suero

For the pocket door to our master bath, the door slides completely into the wall. To close the door, I push it further into the wall to make it pop out. The pull is mounted on the side of the door, not the edge.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 7:03PM
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cat_ky

This house was built in 1968. We have several pocket doors. One is between the utility room, and a 3/4 bath. We have no problems with it, and doesnt look like anyone else has ever had a problem with it either. It does have the locking mechanism on it. It is the only one of our pocket doors that does have it. Works fine.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 2:52PM
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brickeyee

"I would encourage you to look strongly at the better Grant hardware and a solid core door"

The "Grant hardware" is old style and not good at all.

The open track allows the door bogeys to come off the track in the pocket.

The Johnston hardware uses more wheels, and a track that traps the bogeys so they can never come 'off the track.'

The link below is to the 111PD pocket door hardware.
This is what you want.

Here is a link that might be useful: Johnson Hardware

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 12:18PM
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staceyneil

Thanks for all your input.

The Johnson hardware brickeye linked is what we have in our master closets... we got the whole kit though.

I would be interested in the names of quality lockset hardware, though!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 12:35PM
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cat_ky

Since ours is original to this 1968 house, it may not help you out much, or maybe isnt even made anymore. The name on the lockset says Weiser. Apparently it is a good one, to have lasted all these years, and that bathroom is well used. I think it always has been, by the condition it was in when we bought the house. (Has since been redone).

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 4:59PM
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totsuka

I love pocket doors. I have one going into our master bedroom bathroom and it's a nice feature. My only complaint is the builder used those cheap, white doors, "cardboard" doors and I want to replace it with a really nice wood pocket door. I never have problems locking it. There are a few salvage companies that sell the old hardware and doors or you can order a new door, locks etc. Great idea you should do it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 7:48PM
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staceyneil

Thanks for the input, everyone. I thought I'd post a layout plan so you can see the specific situation we have. I had been pretty much sold on the pocket door, but realized it WILL be more of a PITA to build (we're DIY) and more costly than a regular door. So now I'm still trying to decide whether that extra is worth it for what we'd gain. What do you think???

We are already planning to move the door opening to a different wall to better utilize the floor space in the small bathroom. If we do a regular door, the swing area will be right where one would stand to wash hands at the sink, but the door would not open against the vanity, but against the opposite wall. In using the bathroom door, one would need to step back away from the vanity (further into the room) in order to operate the door. We're thinking that the pocket door would avoid that.

In our house, locks are rarely, if ever used. And the teenager daughter spends a lot of time at the mirror in the bathroom. We often open the door to tell her to hurry up or she'll miss the bus, etc. With a swinging door we'd hit her with the door. I guess that's not a totally valid reason to choose a pocket door though. it's more that I am theorizing that it will make the bath's interior space feel bigger not to have the door swing taking up literally half the open floor space...

Here's the current layout. Notice how the door and vanity placement mean that the only really useable floor space is directly in front of the toilet, just that tiny spot!

Here's what we are planning to do to maximize the floor space. So... the question is whether a pocket door in this case would make the space more useable? (The pocket door would slide into the wall next to the vanity.)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 8:06AM
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gwbr54

Your proposed layout is what I have in my master bath. I considered a pocket door, but due to electrical in the wall, I reconsidered. Since I use the sink either with the door all-the-way open, or all-the-way closed, the pocket door would not have given me a great deal of extra space anyway.

One thing that made my bathroom feel more expansive was a shallow wall-hung vanity - the kind where the sink curve projects beyond the cabinet. That put the vanity cabinet farther away from the door opening.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 7:29AM
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christyinco

Me too - your proposed layout is what we have in our upstairs guest/kids bathroom (58" wide). We have the same layout in our basement bathroom, only with a pocket door.

Here are my thoughts... Yes, the door can get in the way if you are sharing the bath and others would be in and out when you are using the sink, etc. If you are in there alone it's no big deal - either it's all the way open or all the way closed (mostly closed).

The pocket door is good for the basement, but I really don't think I'd like it for an upstairs main use bathroom. For some reason it doesn't feel as private.. could be a mental thing :)

Having said that, we do plan to put a pocket door in our master bathroom. We have a long, narrow bath and there is no room for it to open into the bathroom and having it open into the room would be strange and we don't have the room for that either. But, I feel like I'm tucked away a bit more in the bedroom and already have a sense of privacy.

Functionally, both work fine.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 11:40AM
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la_sally

I have an old pocket door to my master bedroom and I do not like it at all. When I have the window open (often in Southern California) it moves back and forth in the track and makes a lot of noise. Do the newer doors do this?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 1:03AM
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brickeyee

"When I have the window open (often in Southern California) it moves back and forth in the track and makes a lot of noise. Do the newer doors do this?"

Moves on the track or sways perpendicular to the track?

The sway is a common problem.

Johnson hardware supplies plastic guides to limit sway, but they also scratch the face of the door when it is opened and closed.

A piece of aluminum angle in the floor of the pocket and a small groove in the bottom of the door will prevent sway.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 9:06AM
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Maura63

I was doing some research on "pocket doors" and came across this thread -- I know it is a little dated.

Looking at your proposed "layout" -- could you consider keeping the hinged door, but having the sink and toilet locations switch places? Then it would be the exact layout of my childhood bathroom (except our exterior wall was your tub wall and that is where our window was... we had a hot water radiator where your window is... made our towels toasty warm!)

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 2:19PM
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staceyneil

Thanks, Maura!
I actually just finished this bathroom... the post about it is at the link below. It worked out great :)
Stacey

Here is a link that might be useful: Budget DIY elegant bathroom

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 2:25PM
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gabelman

I'm looking to redo my bedroom bathroom. The bathroom is VERY tiny and the pocket door would be a great idea. If I were to use the Johnson kit for the pocket door, can I use a standard door or is there a specific door or heavy door that's best used for a pocket door? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:14PM
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staceyneil

If you get the kit from Johnson, you can use any door you want. We bought composite 5-panel doors from Lowes for our walk-in-closets with pocket doors. There are different Johnson kits for different size/weight doors. We used the standard kit and a pretty standard door. Our doors are NOT hollow, though, and the weight may be why we're happier with them than some people with hollow-core pocket doors that feel flimsy (just a guess).
I linked the Johnson kit below. I used the 1500 series, which Lowes/HomeDepot or your local lumberyard should be able to order for you, or just order it online.

Just remember that you cannot have any plumbing, lightswitches, towel racks, shelves, etc on the wall that the door slides into. You'll have to put the lightswitch on the other side of the door... in a small bathroom, finding wall space for those and using a pocket door can be challenging. (If you really need to have lights/towel racks on that wall, you could build that wall thicker: lay some studs flat along the back of the door pocket, to give you room for a shallow-work electrical box and studs for shelf/rack installation. But that eats into your small bathroom square footage!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Johnson pocket door kits

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 7:17AM
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Jumpilotmdm

I don't think a pocket will work sliding behind the toilet.

I'd recommend a pocket long before a bifold. Bifolds are no good between 2 rooms.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 9:00AM
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brickeyee

"I don't think a pocket will work sliding behind the toilet. "

You are going to need an awfully thick wall to have the dor clear the toilet vent.

And them you may have electrical on the other side.

A pocket door in a 2x4 wall already takes up ALL the space, and no junction boxes (switches, receptacles) can be in the pocket area on either side of the pocket.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:05PM
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