Ohhh the pocket door. If you follow me on instagram, you might remember a few posts about installing the pocket door. 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!
Let me start at the beginning, our new house is much larger than anywhere else we’ve ever lived. It’s only 1,900 square feet, but this is by far the most space we’ve had in our adult life. 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. 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 build a pocket door?
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! To do this we need to officially divide the house so that both sides can be locked. 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! (Check out this post for details on our experience as Airbnb hosts.)
Here are the tools you’ll need to build a pocket door
- A long level
- Wood shims
- Pry bar
- Utility knife and blades
- Finishing nails
- Pocket door kit
How to build a pocket door
This is more precisely called, How to install a pocket door in a wide opening. Like I said above, we installed this pocket door kit from Home Depot for less than $150. It is fair to note that you will need to buy the door used in the pocket separately. We got a solid wood door at Habitat Re-Store for $25. So, now what?
Step 1- Remove the molding
The first step in installing a pocket door is to pry off the existing molding with a pry bar and hammer. The molding will get re-used, so be as gentle as possible. Pro tip for removing molding: Use a razor blade to cut the caulk. This will help the molding come off easier and you don’t risk peeling the wall paint off.
Bye, bye molding…
Step 2- Install the pocket door kit
Be sure and remove the wood shims while you are removing the molding. Next, measure your door frame and cut the pocket door kit to size. The pocket door frame kit comes with instructions, and Andy followed them exactly.
Andy had to cut off 2 inches off of the frame to make it fit into our hole.
Step 3- Install the door
The most critical part of installing the frame is making sure that the top track is level that way the door will slide properly. Below is the pocket door frame installed.
Here’s some close up action of the leveled top with lots of wood shims. 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!
Step 4- Drywall
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
Then drill that sheet rock into the boards. You can see my drill holes in the picture below. 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.
Step 5- Tape and float dry wall
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. I ended up doing 3 layers of joint compound.
Word to the wise: Mix up the paste outside, not inside. Oh and here is what a good batch of paste should look like:
Here’s the goo waiting to be turned into a real wall!
It’s time to 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.
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!
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:
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:
Step 6- Texture dry wall
Now, it’s time to texture the dry wall! According to Johnny and several websites it doesn’t not matter if you prime first or texture first over drywall. I primed first, and it worked great. 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:
And here she is textured, primed and ready to be painted wall. As you can see, I was waiting to finish the dang wall so that I could finish painting the room!
Just to jog your memory, here’s what that wall looked like before:
And here is the pocket door (almost) finished!
Step 7- Paint
Step 8- Put molding back on the door frame
I say almost because there is still one little issue with the wall molding, you can’t tell unless you look really closely, but…
Yep, that line is paint! Since this is the only room in the house with chair rail we could not steal it from 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 & Reviews
Suzanne Cassady says
From your introduction it seems the previous owners used the home as a duplex. That’s why there were 2 front doors- 2 living spaces etc. you should check with title to see what the home was originally planned as.
Jamie Dorobek says
Hi Suzanne! It was a single family home. The second “living room” was officially a dining room. The house has a front door and a side door because it is on a corner lot.
Put on some shoes!! Flip flops…really!?
Heidi S says
You felt compelled to criticize him for wearing flip flops while drawing a pencil line on a piece of wood?
You did well! The whole project is beautiful.. It should be renamed, though, for search engine clarity from “How to build a pocket door” to “How I installed a pocket door”. You didn’t really build a pocket door, you installed one.
Jamie Dorobek says
Good point! It is definitely more of a install!
This is exactly what I want to do and my husband and a handyman we had come look at it said it was going to be to difficult. Can you tell me if you had to cut the flooring where the door frame was installed? This is what my husband thinks needs to be done and then all of the floor needs to be replaced. Thank you. I know this project was from a while ago.
Jamie Dorobek says
Luckily, did not have to cut the flooring! We actually covered up some of the flooring since we were enclosing a larger door way with a pocket door. xo Jamie
marlen aguilar says
muy agradecida por compartir tengo tantas ganas de aser este proyecto para ahorrar espacio gracias
D Promotion says
Nice job , great new look thanks for sharing ..
Brad Miller says
Found this post because I’m about to do a similar project (for airbnb purposes as well). I’m going to do double pocket doors, but it will be a newly constructed wall. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Thanks for the post. I’m guessing the airbnb thing is working well.
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?
Lisa @ Charlie The Cavalier says
Wow! Great job I am impressed! I would not have thought of this.
Saw this on Dwellinggawker…. My jaw dropped… I’m completely amazed. SO SO good.
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!
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!
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.
Jamie Dorobek says
Double pocket doors would have been awesome, but a ton more work, ha!
I 100% agree! Unless the opposite side is dressed up the same… It may be best to cover the area with a large bookcase with accompanying reading area and/or make a faux “built in” to cover that doorway (if it’s unused) and/or a large, leaning mirror with accompanying furniture/accessories to decorate it. Idk… SOMETHING that doesn’t scream “this was a large architectural asset and now it’s a small door”. Given the architecture of the house, you are spot on about utilizing historic principles for dividing structures. Our ancestors knew far more than this generation when it came to principles of survival and how to “shut down” part of a house (mostly for conservation of heat in winter). Large pocket doors would have been preferable to the tiny ‘one door’ variety in the public spaces of the house. Good thing about it… They can always remove it and do it right the next time. 😉