How to build a pocket door

Ohhh the pocket door. If you follow me on instagram, you might remember a few posts about this bad boy. It was the very first DIY project we did in the new house. I talked about the pocket door in this post about our living room finally looking like a living room 2 1/2 months after we moved in! I gotta back up, for what we’re used to, our house is huge (it’s only 1,900 square feet), but since we’ve been living in 1000 square feet or less, it feels so, so big. It just so happens that our house has 2 front doors and what looks like 2 living rooms. The past owners might have used the second living room as a dining room, but we’re not really sure. So, the house naturally divides itself in almost half. With one bedroom, one bathroom, and a living room on one side and 2 bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, and kitchen on the other side. While most people want to open their house up, we stuck a pocket door smack dab in in the middle!

Why you ask? We have friends who rent their homes or rooms on airbnb.com for big events in Austin. They make some extra money and love it. We’re gonna give it a shot! So, to do this we had to officially divide the house so that both sides could be locked up. We chose to do it with a pocket a door for the sake of easiness, and if we don’t like it one day, we’ll just knock it back out!

So, here is the original hole separating the 2 living rooms.

How to build a pocket a door

Here are some of the tools you’ll need to build a pocket door:

  • A long level
  • Wood shims
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife and blades
  • Finishing nails
  • Pocket door kit

pocket door materials

 

Here are the basic steps of building a pocket door: 

1. Take down molding

2. Install pocket door kit

3. Install door

4. Add dry wall (We hired someone to help us!)

5. Tape and float dry wall (We hired someone to help us!)

6. Texture dry wall (He told me how, but I did it myself!)

7. Prime wall with dry wall primer

8. Paint

9. Re-install molding

10. Steal molding from closet for the new wall or paint on molding, like we did in one spot!

And of course, you’ll need a pocket door kit. We got ours at Home Depot for $81. It does not come with a door. You have to buy that separately. We got a solid wood door at Habitat Re-Store for $25. So, now what? Get excited because this is going to be fun! Not. You’ve got all of your supplies, and it’s time to pry off the existing molding with a pry bar and a hammer.

pocket door 2

Here’s another before of the room. You can see the pocket wall doorway on the left.

pocket door 3

 

Here’s some close up action of prying off the molding. You will need to re-use the molding, so be nice.

How to build a pocket door

 

TIP: Using an razor blade to cut the caulk will help the molding to come off easier and you don’t risk peeling your wall paint off.

pocket door 4

Bye, bye molding…

pocket door 7

Now, it’s time for the inside of door jam. Make sure and remove the wood shims too.

pocket door 8

Next up… install the pocket door frame. Andy had to cut off 2 inches off of the frame to make it fit into our hole.

pocket door 10

Installing the frame is pseudo simple. The frame comes with instructions, and Andy followed them exactly. The most critical part of installing the frame is making sure that the top track is level that way the door will slide properly. Here’s the pocket door frame installed:

How to build a pocket door

 

Here’s some close up action of the leveled top with lots of wood shims.

How to build a pocket door

 

Oh and like I side above, we got the actual door for $25 at Habitat Re-Store. I love it! We had to cut off one inch of the door because it was a tad too wide. No biggie! And here’s where the DIY part gets a little tricky. We hired help. True. Andy was super nervous about doing the taping and floating so we did a little Yelp search for “handyman” near our zip code and found Johnny. He had tons of great reviews and was A-OK giving us a little DIY lesson along the way.  We paid him an hourly wage to teach us to tape and float and he ended up doing the molding work too! Andy’s dad happened to be in town the weekend this was all happening, so I actually learned how to tape and float all by my lonesome. I’m kind of a pro now! First, we had to put up dry wall. TIP: Make sure and mark on the wood where your boards are to drill into. You can faintly see ours in the pic below

How to build a pocket door

Then drill that sheet rock into the boards, like so: (Don’t mind my super cute work clothes!)

How to build a pocket door

l drilled one side of the sheet rock in, while Johnny did the other side! Make sure and counter sink your screws so that they do not show through when taping and floating. Now, it’s time for the fun part. Taping and floating is kind of like icing a cake. Here’s what you need to float: a bucket, a trowel, a sanding block, and joint compound.

How to build a pocket door

Word to the wise: Mix up your paste outside, not inside. Oh and here is what a good batch of paste should look like:

How to build a pocket door

Here’s the goo waiting to be turned into a real wall!

How to build a pocket door

Then, start floating…! My motto was thinner is better, and layers are good. Here is layer numero uno. Oh and clumps are bad. But, clumps can be fixed with the block sander. The block sander cures all.

How to build a pocket door

Then wait for your the goo to dry, and use your sanding block with a little water to sand it smooth. Just rub your hand over the wall and make sure you don’t feel ay rough patches. After it’s sanded, mix up another batch and add layer 2!

How to build a pocket door

 

I did 3 layers. According to Johnny you won’t hurt anything if you do an extra layer, so if you’re unsure, add another layer! Here is the wall, with the bottom corner primed:

How to build a pocket door

Priming is easy. Just roll on the primer. I gave the wall 2 coasts. Make sure it is drywall primer. Here’s what I used:

How to build a pocket door

Now it’s time to texture! According to Johnny and several websites it doesn’t not matter if you prime first or texture first over drywall. Honestly,  I did a little of both. I tested out the texture spray before I primed, then added more texture after it was primed. This was my very favorite part. It’s so stinkin’ easy, seriously. Grab a bottle of spray texture <– This is the brand I used. Shake the bottle really well and then spray in circular motions on your wall. The goal is to match your existing texture. I think I did a pretty dang good job of matching my existing texture. This was my favorite part of the whole project, besides of course the part where you stand back and look at the finish project! I want to texture everything! Here is the exact bottle of sprat texture I used:

How to build a pocket door

 

And here she is textured, primed and ready to be painted. As you can see, I was waiting to finish the dang wall so that I could finish painting the room!

How to build a pocket door

Just to jog your memory, here’s what that wall looked like before:

How to build a pocket a door

 

And here is the pocket door (almost) finished!

How to build a pocket door

 

I say almost because there is still one little issue with the wall molding, you can’t tell unless you look really closely, but…

How to build a pocket door

Yep, that line is paint! Since this is the only room in the house with chair rail we could not steal it fron another room and we could not find an exact replica at any home improvement store, so for now we painted a white line! One of these days, Andy is going to carve us a piece of molding! The bottom molding was a little easier, Andy stole it from a closet installed is right there!

Phewww. Pretty happy that’s over. We like the pocket door, but it was not the most fun project of all time. What do you think about pocket doors? Have you ever installed one? Have you ever installed dry wall or my favorite… textured dry wall?! What do you think about our painted molding?

 

Comments

  1. The door does look great, you did do a great job on the installation and it was neat to see the process and the great color choice and the surroundings on your side look nice, but from the other side, the single door in the long wall doesn’t look good, I would have done as they did in times bygone and installed a double, center opening pocket door setup, this would allow the aesthetics of the wide visual into either room as part of the same house, with a wide open appearance of living space, and not almost like some type of addition. You still would accomplished the same thing, but the visual would have much more appeal.

    Thanks for sharing. The best part was admitting the reliance on asking for help when you needed it, that is the BEST advice to give to any DIY person towards any future endeavor. An ounce of advice is worth a pound(ing) of nails. God Bless.

    Drew

  2. That looks awesome!
    Wouldn’t have imagined, you could really build these by yourself (or even with a little bit of help…).

    And I really adore the colors – the gray walls and the darker wooden door!

    Love, Midsommarflicka

  3. Thank you so much for this post – you guys did an awesome job!
    I want to install a pocket door and this was the motivation I needed!

  4. Saw this on Dwellinggawker…. My jaw dropped… I’m completely amazed. SO SO good.

  5. Wow! Great job I am impressed! I would not have thought of this.

  6. Aileen Hampton says:

    So, is there any way to have made that a double hung door? It seems like you needed the existing doorway to be double the size of the door that you hung. Can one put in a pocket door where there is not already an existing open space?

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