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Installing a Sliding Pocket Door Kit or going for a Do-It-Yourself option – what do you need to think about?

Our technical expert Ruth explains the pro’s and con’s of choosing a sliding pocket door kit over a do-it-yourself option.

There are quite a few sites on the internet (often American) that talk you through making and installing a pocket door from scratch with items bought at the hardware store. This type of DIY option is one for the seasoned DIY expert who feels confident following a blog like this http://www.creatingreallyawesomefreethings.com/how-to-build-a-pocket-door/. In this example the DIY’er has build a pocket out of wood and has bought just the track and runners from a hardware store. So if you have a high skill level and some time on your hands this could be an option for you.

Alternatively you could save yourself some time and ensure reliability of your finished pocket door by buying a pocket door kit like our Rocket Pocket kit. 

Here are some features to look out for when buying your pocket door kit.

You need to ensure that the kit:

  • is quick and easy to assemble with pre-cut horizontal and vertical sections and a track that is already cut to size to suit the door size. How can you check this? Most pocket door brands will allow you to download a copy of the installation instructions from their website and some even include an installation video on YouTube. Kits that require cutting will often say the kit will fit a range of door sizes- meaning it will if you cut it to size. You don’t want to have to be measuring and cutting parts from the pocket door kit as this is what you would be doing anyway if you were making the pocket door from scratch!
  • is strong and sturdy and creates a strong pocket into which the door can slide. Why is it important to have a strong pocket behind the plasterboard? The pocket replaces your studwork in the wall so it is important that it provides support for the plasterboard. If there are only two vertical supports you have less area to fix the plasterboard to the frame. With multiple horizontal supports you can fix more plasterboard screws and therefore the plasterboard will be more rigid. Pocket door kits that just have two vertical supports and no horizontal supports and fewer fixings may allow the attached plasterboard to flex which can lead to movement and also cracked plaster.
  • components (i.e. the verticals and horizontals) are not made from wood. Why are metal sections better than wood? Obviously if you are making a pocket door from scratch the horizontals and verticals are mostly likely going to be constructed from wood. However wood can warp, so if you are paying slightly more for a kit make sure the components of the kit that make up the pocket and track are constructed from pre-formed metal for strength and rigidity.
  • will assemble into an integrated pocket and track. Why is this important? If you are buying a kit then you want to ensure that the kit you buy guarantees alignment of the track and pocket by being assembled together as one complete unit. Without this you run the risk of having a misaligned pocket and track and a poorly aligned finished pocket door.
  • includes all the fixings you require plus other features such as door guide and a mechanism that will slow the closing of the door so that it doesn’t slam against the door post. If you are going to buy a kit rather than opt for a DIY solution then you want to ensure that the kit contains all the fixings required to assemble the pocket and track; the screws to fix the plasterboard to the pocket so they are the correct size and don't end up scratching your door; includes good quality runners; has a mechanism that, under normal use, will slow down the door as it closes; and has door entry guides that ensure the door moves smoothly backwards and forwards in the pocket.

 So if you decide to choose a kit rather than choosing the buy the parts individually to do-it-yourself , ensure you are really saving yourself time and money by choosing the right kit.

 

Pro’s and Con’s

 

Rocket Pocket Kit

A DIY from scratch solution

Cost

Inexpensive at just £119.50 (ex VAT)

Cheaper

Time required

Really quick to assemble and all the necessary fixings to assemble the pocket and track, and screw the plasterboard to the pocket are included in the kit.

This will take significantly longer even for a seasoned DIY’er. All the component parts will need to be bought.

Skill level

Competent joiner or DIY’er

Seasoned DIY’er

Features

The Rocket Pocket – pocket door kit comes with:

  • all the steel uprights and horizontals required to build the pocket and the track.
  • The kit includes the brackets to fit the frame to the stud work that double as plasterboard positioners and supports
  • Adjustable pocket entrance guides.
  • Runners with carbon steel 'sealed for life' bearings
  • All kits comes with a door brake 
  • Also included are door brackets for the top of the door, rear door stop, door brake, and fixings. Adjustable bolt and nuts for runners plus spanner. Screws to assemble frame and screws to attach plasterboard to pocket.

Extra features will need to be purchased

Reliability

The pocket and track is made from galvanised steel and so there is no risk of warping as with a wood system.

 

The pocket and track assemble together ensuring alignment.

 

The runners supplied with the kit have carbon steel ‘sealed for life’ bearings.

Will depend on the skill level of the installer and the quality of the individual parts purchased.