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How to Install Smooth Pocket Doors That Last For Decades

Pocket doors are problem solvers for architects and designers, but they get a bad rap due to poor installation or cheap hardware. It would be a shame to pass on the space-saving solution, elegant design and technology of modern pocket doors just because you’ve heard they’re “jicky” (a Matt Risinger-ism saying) or have had a bad experience with them in the past.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to install pocket doors that will last for decades:

  1. You must install your pocket doors before you drywall your wall.
  2. Use your finishing carpenter to install the pocket doors, not your framing carpenter. This is precision work, and you want to use an expert. Your finishing carpenter will ensure the top track is set to be perfectly level. This is crucial to a successful and maintenance-free installation. Secure the bottom of the door using a hidden pin rather than guides. Using a pin has two advantages: it’s totally concealed and it’s a better detail that gives you a better wall seal.  The finish carpenter will need to route the bottom of the door to make a track for the pin, but the execution is well worth it!
  3. Spend the time and money to do the installation right. That means investing in quality hardware and using your finishing carpenter on the project. For more on the best way to install a pocket door, take a look at this video.

Don’t use hardware store or home building supply hardware for your pocket doors. Spending the extra money to install quality hardware will make all the difference to trouble-free pocket door operation.

You’re looking for hardware that’s installed perfectly plumb and perfectly level. But you also want it to have smooth action, and  Johnson Hardware’s track and carriage system with three ball bearings does the job. If you want to add a grabbing mechanism so the doors stay pushed back when opened, you’ll want to upgrade to Häfele hardware. While the price bump will be noticeable, you get what you pay for.

To see what a difference the right hardware can make in trouble-free operation from the outset and for decades to come, take a look at this little video on Choosing Pocket Door Hardware.

  1. If you’ve got a room with a wide opening or one where you want to create a wide opening to take advantage of natural light or heavy traffic, consider installing Double Pocket Doors. Here’s what to look for when selecting hardware for this notoriously difficult (but by no means impossible) installation:
  • Smooth hardware is a must.
  • A synchronous opening mechanism that means both doors open and close simultaneously is a thing of beauty.
  • A soft close in both directions is a highly recommended feature. High end pocket door hardware from Sugatsune includes a belt system with two rollers for syncing and a total of 12 points of contact with stainless steel ball bearings and a very high quality belt will give you the best results.

It all boils down to three basic principles:

  1. Spend the time to research the products you’re going to use
  2. Spend the time and money to have a finish carpenter install the pocket doors.
  3. Spend as much as you can afford on your pocket door hardware. Cheaping out will cost you both time and frustration.