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.