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Solving Pocket Door Problems

Pocket Door Problem TIPS

Victorian Pocket Doors

Who hasn't been inside one of those magnificent Victorian homes built 100 years ago that has dual acting pocket doors between the living room and dining room? Those disappearing doors can instantly create privacy.

The beauty of the pocket door system was known by our grandparents and their parents. They saw how the doors saved space. The pocket door concept freed up both floor and wall space. I don't know about you but I'd sure like to shake the hand of the inventor of pocket doors!

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local finish carpenters that specialize in pocket doors.

Problems Create Distrust

I know some people who dislike pockets doors. They complain how the doors rub going into and out of the pocket. The doors jump off the track.

It's tough or impossible to adjust the doors once they are trimmed out. Old pocket doors may be hard to operate or don't work at all.

All of these problems can cause a person or a friend to avoid using pocket doors. This distrust can often be blamed on poor hardware quality or poor installation practices. A high-quality pocket door frame and hardware kit will operate flawlessly for many years if installed properly. I know. I have installed countless ones over the decades, even in my own home.

Best Pocket Doors

The best pocket doors start with the best frames, track and trolleys. You don't see any of this once the pocket door is installed and the walls are finished.

Here's the only brand I'd ever install. They're simply that good. I've had LE Johnson pocket door frames/hardware on all my jobs and in my own home for years.

Note below in the photo how the trolleys have three wheels. This type of trolley ensures they never jump off the track.

You're looking at a sample size used by a salesman to show the components of a LE Johnson pocket door frame. These are the best. CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE NOW TO ORDER ONE AND HAVE DELIVERED TO YOUR HOME.

The Old Doors

Do you have an old set of pocket doors that you wish to revive? It may be tough to do it if you are looking for used parts.

If you're a purist and must stay with old parts, you can try to find them online right here. Many small independent hardware stores ply their wares on Amazon.com. CLICK HERE and start hunting!

If you can't find parts, don't get discouraged. The heart and soul of a pocket door system is actually the track above the doors and the rollers that attach the door to this track. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why you can't put a new track system in an old door pocket.

Getting it in will be a challenge and may require surgery on the wall, but this can be easily repaired. I urge you tackle this project with a positive attitude. It will be tough at first, but the outcome will be dramatic.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local finish carpenters that specialize in pocket doors.

Common Problems

If you have an existing pocket door that gives you trouble, I may be able to help. Does your door jump off the track and get stuck in the pocket?

If so, try to look at the wheels or rollers. If they're single wheeled rollers, you have an inferior system. The best pocket door hardware has 3 or 4 wheel hangers that fit into a box shaped track. It is impossible for this type of roller to jump off the track.

Can you easily remove the door after one side of the top split jamb is removed? If not, you can have big problems.

You can buy a pocket door hardware system that allows you to easily disconnect the door from the 3 or 4 wheeled hangers. Within moments the door will be in your hands, not in the pocket!

What happens if the track gets damaged? Can you easily remove it? If your track does not have keyhole shaped slotted screw holes, you will be in for a treat. I guarantee you will be tearing into the wall to get at the track screws deep in the pocket. A track with keyhole shaped screw holes eliminates this problem.

Does your door rub the split jamb when it is pulled in and out of the pocket? Check to see if there is 3/16th inch clearance between each side of the door and each jamb.

If you have this clearance and the door still rubs, the door may be warped and/or the entire pocket door assembly may be twisted. If this is the case, it will require major reconstructive surgery to solve the problem.

The problem with rubbing doors can sometimes be traced to the bottom door guides. An inexperienced carpenter may install these on the wrong side of the split jambs! They are supposed to be on the face of the jamb. This allows you to adjust them easily.

Don't Forget the Painter

Pocket doors require some tender loving care from the painter as they are being installed. Once installed you can't get to the top, bottom, or back vertical edge. These surfaces MUST be sealed to prevent warping. This can only be accomplished as the door is being worked on by the carpenter.

If you paint the door, it is simple. Just apply a primer coat to the entire door as soon as it arrives at the job site. Then have the painter apply a finish coat to the edges of the door before he hands it over to the carpenter.

If the door is to be stained, it will be a little more difficult. The painter will have to carefully apply a sealer to the top, bottom, and hidden vertical edge. If you get sealer on the face of the door, the stain will not penetrate properly. It will really look horrible. Coordinate this carefully!

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local finish carpenters that specialize in pocket doors.

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30 Responses to Solving Pocket Door Problems

  1. Do pocket doors ever require lubrication? I am at my brother's home and noticed that a door that used to slide just fine, is tougher to slide than I remember last year. This bathroom door has about 6 years of service and is the busiest door of the 3 pocket doors he had "professionally" installed. The other 2 doors slide great, this 1 I'd like to fix for him and am wondering how to approach the situation.

  2. I have an old house with 2 sets of double pocket doors. I can't adjust them because they do NOT have rollers. They are on some kind of pantograph system in their walls with heavy cast iron mounting plates. Where can I get info on these old doors that won't close correctly?
    Stan ; Jermyn PA 18433

    • Stan, your question requires lots of typing, plus I have some questions for you so I can give you the correct answer(s). I only do pithy answers here in the comment section. If you want to protect the investment you have in your house and not waste time or money *hoping* you make the right decision, you should talk to me on the phone for just 15 minutes. It'll be the best investment you've ever made in your home!

  3. Tim you said that a single wheeled rollers are inferior systems. I agree. Would it help to put 3 or 4 single wheeled rollers spaced evenly across the top of the door, rather than the 2 single wheeled rollers I have now?

  4. We have several pocket doors we installed but when the door opens it goes all the way into the wall making it hard to grab to pullit out to close. Is there anything we can do to keep the door out of the pocket a little?

  5. We have a pocket door that just sways in the breeze. At the bottom of the door aren't there supposed to be support wheels that guide the door straight? Or am I just missing something, thanks for your help.

  6. Hi Tim- My builder just finished installing double pocket doors in my home and he is now on to another job. My problem is that I just realized the doors, if not pulled out together to meet in the middle, will come out of the pocket completely and past the center point. Is there anything you can do to make sure each door stops at the midpoint?


    • I am desperate to find a way to make my pocket doors stop in the center too! I'm told it is called a door post but multiple visits to hardware/home improvement stores and online searches have yielded nothing! I see that something was up there in the center of the top tracks (plate marks and two holes for nails/screws) but no idea what it's called or what it looks like, HELP!

  7. When we walk across our bedroom floor, the wall that hold a pocket door creaks. Any ideas to get rid of the creaks?

  8. My wife and I purchased a home a couple years back. The deed says it was built in 1890. She removed the trim from our pocket doors after I asked her not too while I was working. One side works just fine but the other will not close no . Its stuck open. The roller system is cast iron with 4 rollers for each hange . Each door has two hangers. I can see what looks like set screws I'm assuming to adjust the heigth. But what im confused about is how the rollers attachvto the door. They look to be slotted but I am unable to get them to stay. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  9. My contractor hung a bathroom pocket door with a 1 1/2" clearance between the bottom of the door and the floor. Short of pulling off all the trim to remove the door is there any other way a piece can be added to the bottom of the door. Would like to keep noise inside the bathroom

  10. I have a pocket door, about 10 years old, that naturally slides shut all the time without being pulled. Am I correct in thinking that the only real solution is to remove the door and remount the track so that it is level, or has a slight negative cant to help the door stay in the pocket?

  11. How do you adjust the slide on a pocket door? When I slide the door closed the door rubs the frame on scrapes the paint off one side of the door.

  12. I am having a house built and wanted to know if there is something I could do in the building stage to insure the smooth operation of pocket doors. I read about priming as soon as possible. Is there anything that could be added to the interior frame surface to make door glide smoothly in & out? We live in a humid location. Should frame be sealed?

  13. I have been a contractor for more than thirty years. I hate it when people - especially people like you - claim that pocket doors save space. Fact is that pocket doors don't save not even one square inch of space. They may be more CONVENIENT, but they don't save any space. Walk up to any door. You must stand in front of the door to open it and pass to the other side. There is a minimum 30 inch square area the door clears to allow for your presence before you pass thru. Then, on the other side there exists the SAME exact square space that allows you to exist after you've passed thru. Do the same for a pocket door. There does not exist a pocket door that adds to that space! Not only that but you can't hang a robe hook or sign, a picture or anything else that lot's of people do, to a pocket door.It's time everyone starts using valid logic.

    • Dear A.,

      The space the PR people and manufacturers talk about is the quarter circle of floor space once the door starts to swing past 90 degrees as you open it. Some people like to put a door all the way back against a wall making a 180-degree arc.

      We propose that you come up with a new term to describe this wonderful characteristic of the magic pocket doors. With a pocket door, one can now place a piece of furniture in that otherwise wasted space.

      Let us know when you have coined a new descriptor. I'll then forward it to LE Johnson for their review.

      P.S. There are many more things to get your blood pressure up rather than this. How about focusing that energy on getting some of your peers to do quality work rather than sub-standard quality I get so many complaints about.

  14. Prior planning and request for pocket doors before you start building are a must. You can't change your mind once the door is framed. We installed four pocket doors 27 years ago in our new house. Never have had a bit of trouble. They work fine and love the convenience of not having a door in the way. Don't know what kind or how many rollers but the builder must have known what he was doing. I requested them and they have been great.
    So you can have good luck with them. I suggest you don't let kids play around with opening and shuting them for the fun of it though!

  15. Does somebody know if there is a stop or catch on an old pocket door? I just started rehabbing a house and found a pocket door that had been covered up. It worked fine for a few days and then all of a sudden it stopped halfway on the track as if there is a couch or something holding it. The rail is clear so there has to be a stop somewhere? Please advise. Thanks

  16. I have a pocket that door slides halfway open on it's own. It didn't used to do this. Is there any way to adjust it so that it doesn't slide open anymore?

    • If a pocket door open or closes on its own, it is because the top track is no longer level. Here in California it is not unusual for a house to shift a bit after an earthquake.

      On an LE Johnson pocket door, you might try snugging up the LE Johnson "1550 Door Guides" located at the bottom of the pocket's jam to rub a bit on the door to prevent it from opening or closing on its own. If your door DOESN'T have door guides you can add them. They only cost a couple of dollars.

  17. Our pocket door has worked perfectly for the 17 yrs. we've lived in our home. A pantry abuts one side of the pocket door wall. Recently, a shelf support in that pantry pulled loose and made a big hole in the sheet rock. We repaired the hole and shelf support, but a couple weeks later, I was opening the pocket door and heard something fall inside the wall. It may have been a piece of the damaged sheet rock. But, now the door won't close all the way. About 3" of the door remain in the doorway. Is there any way to remove the obstacle so the door goes back in the wall all the way again? (Please respond in my email as I don't know if I'll get back to this site again any time soon.)

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