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  • Writer's pictureTimothy Hill

Pocket Door Considerations

When I design a custom home, there are many items to think thru. One of those items is pocket doors. Everyone (including me) seems to love them. It almost feels like a revolution in house design where we’ve realized as a society that we don’t need that big clunky door taking up space. Also, doors only need to be closed in certain specific situations a few of which are listed here:

  • Keep noise from the washer & dryer from traveling thru the house

  • Close off an office for privacy

  • Close off a bedroom for privacy

  • Keep odors from leaving a bathroom

  • Keep steam from leaving a bathroom & away from walk-in closets

Pocket doors are great because they can remain out of the way most of the time until one of the situations above presents itself. At that point, the door can of course slide to the closed position to accomplish the desired effect. There are a few limitations to pockets however which is what I’d like to discuss in a little more detail here.

Laundry Rooms:

Pocket doors are great for laundry rooms because you get the full 36” width to work with. That means if you get a 34-1/2” wide dryer, you won’t need to take a door off the hinges because there are no hinges & if the door is 36", then the opening is likewise 36". If you’re carrying an basket of laundry however, a swinging door might have a slight advantage. A lot of it comes down to if the door will most often be left closed or open. In my mind, closed may be more likely for a laundry room because I don’t think people want their washer & dryer seen even when they are not running. For laundry rooms in particular, it’s a tradeoff which means you can go either way. It really comes down to preference.


Pocket doors are a great idea for bedrooms. Unfortunately, the wall configuration often does not support the use of a pocket door. For a 36” wide pocket door, another 3’ of straight wall space is required beside the opening to slide the door into. Bedrooms often have a closet or bathroom door in the way. That piece of wall also cannot have light switches or receptacles because the door leaf (or panel) causes the wall framing to be less substantial than a typical 2x4 framed wall. This limits where electrical devices can be placed.


Pocket doors are great for bathrooms. Again, like laundry rooms, you get the full width which you need when replacing a tub or vanity cabinet down the line. Bathrooms make the most sense in my mind because bathrooms are typically small & the pocket door saves floor space & can be closed only when necessary which is not very often really. I would make sure you get one with a good lock that will last.

Pantry & walk-in closet:

Pocket door all the way. It may limit anchorage for shelving, but accommodations can be made like providing a built-in 1x inside the drywall to receive the 1x shelf. So you may pay a bit more for the pocket, but what you gain in everyday floor space may be worth it.

Pocket doors can also help with furniture placement in rooms like small offices. With no door in the way, usable floor space is maximized. Another thing that is interesting about pocket doors is they require twice the structural header as a typical door. A standard 3' door for instance might have a 2x6 header which a pocket header essentially needs to span 6' so that's a 2x8. The last thing I will say is that while pocket doors appear to be a "simple idea", they do require more complicated hardware with a track that is concealed & more moving pieces. With more moving pieces, there is more that can go wrong & repairing parts that are concealed generally costs more than parts that are not concealed.

These are just a few considerations that contribute to whether the use of a pocket door will make sense in a particular situation. Can you think of any others? If so, please leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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