Put it in Your Pocket

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Pocket doors and large-span openings have regained some of their popularity. Installation times for pocket and accordion doors have slashed thanks to improvements in hardware from the manufacturing side

February 01, 2010
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Quick Door Hanger:
How to fix fiberglass doors
Things You'll Need:

Pocket doors and large-span openings have regained some of their popularity. However, when it comes to remodeling, installers must be flexible with the Victorian-era design and configuration to make the system work.

Installation times for pocket and accordion doors have slashed thanks to improvements in hardware from the manufacturing side. Previous hardware systems frequently jammed or caused the doors to derail, but new roller parts and tracks allow smooth and quiet opening and closing.

This Johnson Hardware 2610F Wall Mount Hardware  door system (above) has a proprietary hardware system to make installations easier and operation smoother.

Bruce Woolf, principal of Quaker Road Associates, says his clients love pocket doors and are willing to pay the extra cost for them. "We use only solid core doors, either solid wood or solid core such as Masonite's solid core door."

Woolf installs 1¾-inch doors but will use 1 3/8-inch doors where appropriate. "Exterior accordion doors like NanaWall are very popular — but very pricey. Clients love them but have to have the deep pocket book," he adds.

Fred Cann is founder and co-partner of www.bidformaterials.com, a site that allows contractors to post their materials lists and lets building product suppliers use the site as a lead generation tool. "Primarily pocket doors have always been an option we try to sell," he says. "The trend is 8-foot doors over 6-foot, 8-inch doors. We're building homes with larger ceilings, so homeowners have compensated."

Some contractors counter that the doors can still be troublesome to install, despite the improvements in hardware.

2060 Pocket Door system

According to home improvement expert Danny Lipford, many contractors find that the rough opening will seem gigantic at first. Installers shouldn't forget that they are actually framing for the width of two doors because framing needs to accommodate the door for both the open and closed positions. Lipford recommends framers should make the opening according to the width the manufacturer of your pocket door kit suggests. This is usually twice the width of your door, plus an inch. So, if you're installing a 32-inch door, the rough opening will be 65 inches wide.

Pocket door hardware manufacturer Johnson Hardware says pocket door kits are usually designed to accommodate 1 3/8-inch thick hollow core doors weighing less than 75 pounds. However, any kind of door can be mounted on the proper pocket door hardware. Some hardware kits will support doors that weigh well over 300 pounds.

"There is no such thing as an easy pocket door. It's as helpful as a friendly dentist during a root canal," says Chris Smith of Angel City Builders. "Installing a door is rarely easy."

But, says Smith, years of experience do add up to reducing the amount of time it takes to install. "You still have to pay attention to the opening and verify that it is square and plumb. And always double check the jamb thickness," he advises.

Some municipalities permit requirements also make door installations even more difficult, says Smith. "In Los Angeles, for example, most clients think it's no big deal to make a window wider or put a new opening in. But a permit is required and usually a review by a structural engineer," says Smith, adding that the cost can exceed several thousand dollars quickly.

 

Quick Door Hanger:

Contractors can cut the time that it takes to hang a door with new hardware products. One in particular is the Quick Door Hanger, made by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Express Products (bottom right). In this case, the trimmer first screws six brackets onto the outside of the door jamb. The trimmer draws a vertical plumb line on the drywall about ½ inch from the rough opening on the hinge side of the door. Finally, the trimmer installs the door and screws the brackets into the roughed-in opening using the vertical plumb line as a guide to keep the installation true.

How to fix fiberglass doors

Step 1 Put on safety glasses and a respirator and grind the damage smooth using a dye grinder. Grind away any broken or damaged fiberglass until only solid, intact fiberglass is left. Gradually taper any edges on the damage.

Step 2 Clean the area with a clean rag and acetone, removing any dust or other residue that may be on the repair surface.

Step 3 Put on rubber gloves and mix the fiberglass filler with the catalyst in a small bucket, following the recommendations on the containers. Use a stir stick to thoroughly work the catalyst into the filler. When the putty is one consistent color it's ready to apply.

Step 4 Apply the filler to the damage using a putty knife. Smooth the filler out with the putty knife so it's level with the surrounding fiberglass. Let the filler harden.

Step 5 Put on the respirator and sand the filler down with a palm sander and 200 grit sandpaper. Sand the filler until it's flat and smooth and completely blends in with the surrounding fiberglass.

Things You'll Need:

Respirator

Safety glasses

Dye grinder

Rags

Acetone

Fiberglass filler

Catalyst

Rubber gloves

Small bucket

Stir stick

Palm sander

200-grit sandpaper

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