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?