When to use pocket doors

The homeowner wanted a pocket door between the master bedroom and bathroom--a perfect spot. Pocket doors are beautiful, space-saving options that can be classic or contemporary depending on the design. 

However, pocket doors are a much better choice in some settings than in others, and if you’re going to add one, it’s good to understand when they work.

Back in the Victorian era, pocket doors were often used to close off a parlor, but today they’re featured in many more parts of a home. Since they add an average of 10 square feet of floor space, they’re a great option when there's not enough room for a swinging door.

Here are some important things to remember when considering a pocket door.

It may stay open: Pocket doors are slightly more time-consuming to close. When installing them in children’s closets or pantries, be aware that the door may well end up staying open almost all of the time. 

Can be a less-than-perfect seal: Sometimes, because of the way they sit on their tracks, pocket doors don't always seal as tightly as their swinging counterparts. This makes them less well-suited for a bathroom that’s in a more public part of the home.

Make it Plumb: With that in mind, make sure the pocket itself is plumb so the door hangs in the middle of the space, glides easily and latches properly. Also, don’t leave a large gap between the door and the floor.

Keep it solid: A solid pocket door is highly recommended. If you’re using MDF, stick with a density above 40. This will help block sound.

Think about the rest of the wall: Pocket doors restrict placement of wall switches, towel rods and related items since those things can’t be placed inside the channel. Make sure to plan for the location of anything that breaches the wall.

Disability access: Pocket doors are great for disability access since it’s easy to fit a wheel chair through the opening. However, operating them can be difficult for people with arthritic fingers. If aging in place is a consideration, select large handles with plenty of leverage. 

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