What Is a Pocket Door? A Creative, Space-Saving Solution

What is a pocket door? If you’re looking to maximize the space in a small room, pocket doors are a great option to consider. Essentially, they are doors that slide on a track into and out of a recess in the wall. Often seen in older homes, they are becoming more common in new builds because of the benefits they offer homeowners.

“Unlike swinging doors, pocket doors can provide privacy and save you space,” says Chris Sauer, proprietor of Columbus Architectural Salvage, in Columbus, OH.

The genius of the pocket door is that it will create more room for you to move around and frees up more useable wall space. If a room is especially small, a pocket door will provide more space for storage solutions, furniture, or a mirror—one of our favorite decorative tricks to making a room look bigger.

Photo by Black and Milk | Interior Design | London

Pocket door downsides

Maintenance is one of the main obstacles to owning pocket doors. Since they use a track to open and recede into a wall, if the door ever comes off the rails, you’ll have to fix it. And if it’s an older model, this could present some challenges.

“Finding replacement hardware [for older models] can be difficult because there are lots of different tracks, systems, and wheels,” says Sauer.

Furthermore, because they roll on a track, they might be louder than other doors. And they don’t shut at tight as a conventional swinging door, which can allow more light, smells, and sounds into a room.

Installation challenges and tips

The scope of the installation depends on if there’s a pocket door track present in your home. If there isn’t, you’ll have to cut an opening in the wall to accommodate the split studs and the door track. Once you have a wall opening in place, you can buy the installation kit at your local hardware store.

Putting in a pocket door can be tricky, but the key to a successful installation is precision.

“It’s mission-critical that the giant rough opening for the pocket-door frame is plumb, level, and in the same plane,” says Tim Carter, founder of Askthebuilder.com, in Meredith, NH.

How much does it cost to install a pocket door?

The average cost of the door and hardware will be around $100, according to Popular Mechanics. However, there are other factors that might influence the cost.

“If a pocket door is being installed in an existing home, hidden wires, pipes, and HVAC ducts in the wall can be an enormous challenge and cause costs to balloon as these things must be relocated,” Carter says.

If this is the case, you’ll have to hire a contractor to make these changes, which can raise the costs by thousands of dollars. Therefore, deciding on whether to DIY or hire a contractor to install the pocket door depends on the complexity of the project.