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What is a pocket door?
The purpose of an interior door is to separate spaces or provide privacy if needed. Doors are typically on hinges that allow them to swing open and closed. They can also be attached to a track permitting side-to-side movement. Pocket doors slide open, but their unique feature is that they slide right into the adjoining wall space – becoming hidden from view.
Pocket doors have been a part of interior design for a long time. Introduced well over 100 years ago, you’ve likely seen them in older homes with charm and character. You know the ones…with parlors and drawing rooms. But they’ve become more mainstream over the years due to their functional and aesthetic qualities.
Live in a home with limited space? Then you know just how annoying swinging doors can be in tight spaces. Especially in a bathroom where you may have a storage closet directly behind it. The doors seem to get into a wrestling match every time you need to get a fresh towel.
I’m shedding some light on these nifty interior door options to help you decide if they are right for you!
Pocket doors vs. barn doors
Barn doors were trendy a few years ago and are still popular with those that love farmhouse decor. I’m all about adding something trendy to my home but only if goes with the rest of my personal style.
My goal is to create a home that will stand the test of time. Therefore, I add current trends to my home with smaller decor pieces as opposed to major purchases or structural changes.
They both slide, but the obvious difference is how they are installed. Barn doors have an exposed track attached to the wall above the doorframe. The hardware is usually black and oversized giving it a casual feel. Since the hardware is on the outside of the wall, this is an easy DIY project.
Pocket door tracks are installed inside the door frame and extend into the walls. You will need to remove the door casing at the very least and purchase a special kit to retrofit the space.
As you can see, the kit to install a pocket door is much more substantial than one for a barn door. This could be a DIY project if you have some knowledge and skill in carpentry, but I wouldn’t suggest this as a project for the home improvement weekend warrior. The kits come in different sizes depending on the size of your door.
As far as interior design style goes, barn doors are pretty much pigeonholed into the modern farmhouse decor category. Between the look of the hardware and oftentimes rustic craftsmanship, it’s hard to make this work with any other style.
Pocket doors are a subtle alternative that tends to be found in homes a bit more traditional and upscale. Due to the design, pocket doors are more versatile than barn doors.
Do they increase home value?
Adding a bathroom or finishing a basement is practically guaranteed to increase the value of a home. Nonetheless, some design elements are unique these days and attract buyers for practical and aesthetic reasons. Do pocked doors directly add value? Not necessarily, but they sure pique interest.
When comparing two homes with the exact same statistics, it’s the design features that set them apart. For example, one may be filled with boring builder-grade finishes. If the other has upgraded details like interior window shutters or sliding pocket doors. I know which one I’d pick!
If pocket doors make a small space more usable then they definitely add value. Maybe not the monetary kind, but when something saves your sanity and makes your life easier, there is value there.
Extra installation costs
Building a home from the ground up can be complicated and overwhelming. But it’s the best time to incorporate pocket doors into your plans. Once you determine where you want them, your contractor can work to make it happen. The extra considerations may increase costs a bit, but it’s still cheaper to get done before the walls go up.
The renovation process is another great time to add pocket door systems. Especially, if it’s a major project where drywall is removed. You’ll need to make accommodations within the walls – like moving electrical work or altering studs to allow for passthrough.
During my primary bathroom renovation, I had a pocket door installed between the bathroom and the adjacent closet. Before the drywall went up, the track and passthrough studs were visible so you could see exactly how the mechanism works.
Construction costs, like everything else, vary depending on your geographical location. The farther materials need to be shipped the more it will cost. Doors and windows can be expensive, so be prepared to pay a little extra for pocket doors.
Pros and cons
Who doesn’t love a good list of pros and cons? Even though you have most of these in your head, it can be helpful to actually make a list. This way, you can see all the arguments at once and figure out what will make or break your decision.
Pocket doors can be amazing! They don’t swing open into a room so they don’t become an obstacle when trying to make the best of small spaces. Since they disappear into the wall, you’ll have fewer obstacles for furniture and decor.
I have double pocket doors between my kitchen and living room. They pretty much stay open all the time, so having traditional swinging doors would be annoying there. Plus, I can decorate the wall space on either side without having to worry about doors getting in the way.
However, they are not without their faults. If you have a frequently opened and closed entry, this isn’t the best place for pocket doors. It is much faster to operate a swinging door. The sliding mechanism may wear out quicker and you don’t want to have to worry about maintenance issues behind the drywall. Can you imagine having glass pocket doors and rambunctious kids…yikes!
Another issue with pocket doors is the lack of a proper seal. They slide on a track but don’t have a custom frame that gives a tight seal on all sides of the door. Popular in Jack and Jill bathrooms, but not exactly the most private barrier between two bathrooms.
A pocket door is best in a place where you want to have the option of an open or closed doorway when needed or when you have no space for a traditional hinged door.
What doors can be pocket doors?
You can use any style of door to make a pocket door. If farmhouse decor is your thing, by all means, get that rustic door and add it to the track. You can pretty much use any style that matches your home interior!
The biggest thing you need to look for is a door without boring. If you don’t know what that means, a bore is a hole pre-drilled into a door that will be used for handles and hinges. You won’t need any holes for large handles because then the door won’t fit into the wall when you open it.
Glass pocket doors are great for home offices or any space that requires a little extra light. Need visual privacy? Add a privacy film – an inexpensive fix!
Special hardware for pocket doors
Once you have selected the right framing kit for your size door, you still need to add hardware, just not the traditional choices you are used to. My favorite source for hardware also has a big selection of special hardware designed specifically for a sliding pocket door. It is installed flush with the door surface and doesn’t create an obstacle for the adjacent walls.
Depending on your needs, you can get hardware that is simply used for passage or you can get a lockable option when you need privacy. If you plan to install pocket doors in a bedroom or bathroom, I recommend choosing one with a door latch. Even if you don’t need a lock, you’ll need some type of pull hardware so you can easily open the door.
Tap the images for affordable pocket door hardware options from Amazon:
Can you hang art on a pocket door wall?
Something to consider when installing a pocket door is that you will be limited in what you can do with the outside of the wall inside which the door is housed. You wouldn’t want to drive any long nails or screws into that wall because they will penetrate the hollow space that the door slides into. However, small nails to hang light artwork will be perfectly fine as in the example below.