There are many reasons to install a pocket door in your home. It can be used to create more space, add more privacy, or even improve the flow from one room to another. It may seem like a lot of work — and it is — but it’s doable when you know what you’re doing. If you decide to take on this project, I recommend having at least a little experience working with tools and materials. You’ll also want a partner who can help lift heavy items and hold things in place while you work alone on other parts of the project. In this post, we’ll cover how to install a pocket door in an existing wall so that anyone who wants extra space or added privacy can create it without spending too much money on renovations.
Step 1. Prepare the pocket door’s frame.
- Make sure the door is level.
- Make sure the door is square.
- Make sure the door is plumb (the same distance from each end of its track).
- Make sure the door is straight (not crooked).
Step 2. Cut the studs and drywall.
To cut the studs, you will need to use a reciprocating saw. If you don’t have one, I recommend renting one from your local hardware store (this is especially important if you’re working in an old house with thick walls). Follow these steps:
- Measure from top of opening to bottom.
- Mark where each stud begins and ends on both sides of your wall opening using a pencil or marker.
- Cut along each line using a reciprocating saw; then remove any unwanted material with a chisel or hammer and nail set, and make sure there are no nails left behind before proceeding with step 3 below
Step 3. Install the pocket door frame into the wall.
Your next step is to install the pocket door frame into the wall. It’s important to make sure that your frame is level, plumb and square.
Level: Level means that it’s level with the floor. If you have a wall with a slant in it, this may not be possible until you build up or down out of the floor level (and sometimes even then). You can use a laser leveler or plumb bob to determine if your door frame is level.
Plumb: Plumb means that it’s straight up and down on both sides of its hinges so that when it opens and closes, there isn’t any side-to-side movement because one side was higher than another side as it opened or closed. There are two ways you can check for plumb: You can use a laser leveler or plumb bob; however, most professionals prefer using an electronic laser system because they are more accurate than using a traditional method (such as using string attached to nails inside each hinge). If you’d like more information about these tools please feel free to reach out!
Squareness: Squareness refers to making sure each side of this rectangle is exactly equal length from corner-to-corner (front-to-back) but doesn’t necessarily mean those same four sides need equal lengths from corner-to-corner (side-to-side).
Step 4. Install the drywall on each side of the frame.
After you’ve finished cutting and installing the drywall on each side of the frame, it’s time to apply tape and mud.
First, tape off any areas that you don’t want painted. Then use a notched trowel to apply thin-set mortar over the seams in your drywall installation. Use your fingers or a putty knife to smooth down any large pieces of mortar that may have been left behind by applying too much pressure while smoothing out your seam with a trowel. The last step is applying paintable caulk around each joint between boards or sheets of drywall where they meet at an angle (this will prevent water damage).
Step 5. Prime and paint the pocket door’s trim and frame.
Once the door and frame are installed, prime and paint the trim and frame of your pocket door. This can be done using a high-quality primer that’s designed for use on aluminum. Then, apply an oil- or latex-based paint on top of that primer to finish the look.
Step 6. Install new jambs and casing on each side of the opening (if needed).
- If you are replacing the jambs, remove them and measure for new ones. Measure the opening width and height for reference.
- If you are replacing the casing, remove it from each side of your wall opening and measure for new casing pieces as well as a top jamb piece if applicable (see step 7).
- You cannot use a pre-hung door for this project; you must build your own pocket door by measuring all openings properly beforehand with the help of our instructions below (see “How To Build A Pocket Door In An Existing Wall” section).
Step 7. Hang and install the pocket door hardware.
Step 7. Hang and install the pocket door hardware.
Now that you’ve completed all of your measurements, you can start hanging your pocket door hardware. You’ll need to hang an upper jamb extension on the opposite side of where you are installing your pocket door. This will help ensure that there’s enough clearance for your new slide track to run smoothly. The best way to do this is by using a template and transferring it onto the wall with chalk lines or paint pen so that you get perfect placement every time.
In addition to installing this extension, but before installing any other pieces of hardware like hinges or tracks or rollers (if necessary), make sure that everything is square! Do this by measuring from corner-to-corner along each side of the header (the board installed across the top) and comparing those measurements with those taken from corner-to-corner on either side of where they meet at 90 degrees (like in an L shape). If these aren’t equal then adjust accordingly until they are equal; otherwise installation will take longer than necessary because everything will be off kilter.
Building a pocket door in an existing wall is doable but requires diligence, attention to detail, and some hard work
Building a pocket door in an existing wall is doable but requires diligence, attention to detail, and some hard work.
When you are cutting out the opening for the pocket door frame, take care not to damage any of your drywall. If you are not careful when cutting out this opening, it won’t be able to close properly and will require rework.
There are several other steps that need to be taken with this type of project as well:
- Install pocket door hardware on both sides of the wall so that each side can open independently from one another (or together). This may require some additional drilling holes through your drywall if no pre-existing holes were made during construction time.
- Cut and install drywall around each side panel so that there isn’t any visible gap between them once they’re installed into place (see image below).
The installation of a pocket door in an existing wall is a difficult but rewarding project to complete. By following the steps above, you will successfully add functionality to your home and increase the value of your property. Once again, it is important to note that this project is recommended for advanced DIYers only.