Framing pocket doors

The framing for the original pocket doors on the 1st floor is still in place, but not of much use to us. It is a little wobbly and doesn’t fit the replacement pocket doors we bought.

After a lot of inspecting, re-inspecting, measuring and some hurting brain cells, I decided that it made sense to remove the existing framing structure and start fresh.

The pocket doors with their oak construction are pretty heavy and it made sense to replace the existing 2 by 4 headers with something more substantial. I found two 2 by 10’s for a fair price at the ReBuilding Exchange that were long enough for the span. I am pretty sure that these are over-sized, but it is still better than the other way ‘round.

Then there is the issue of how to get the pocket doors to slide open and shut.  We have the intact roller mechanism that came with the doors. But I need to figure out a rail structure for the rolls.


The solution evolved from looking at the construction of other pocket doors and materials available to me on-site.

I mounted a half by three quarter inch oak rail onto a section of 2 by 4. The oak rail was ripped from scrap pieces that were left over from our window trim extensions.


The plan is to screw the 2 by 4 with the oak rail to the bottom of the header. Before doing so, the assembly is ripped to the correct depth and an angle cut away under the oak rail. This should prevent the mechanism from jamming or getting stuck.

I also plan on lubricating the oak rail with paste wax before employing the doors. I hope that will facilitate an easy opening and closing, although I have to fry other fish first, such as adding three inches to the top and bottom of the doors.

About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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