A Self-Builder’s Guide to Pocket Doors

Opting for a door that slides back into the wall cavity is an efficient alternative to a traditional hinged unit. Here’s how they could save you space in your home
by Emily Smith
5th January 2018

Hinged doors are a long-standing staple for most properties, but many homeowners are recognising the practical, aesthetic and space-saving capabilities of pocket units. The main boon is that you won’t need to provide any room for a door to be swung open, as pocket designs subtly slide back into in the adjacent wall.

What are the benefits?

Without an open door in the way, every inch of floorspace can be utilised – an essential if you’re self-building. “Space costs money,” says Caroline Clarkson from Eclisse.

“Each m2 of your home will cost £1,000 or more, so it’s well worth making use of every metre. Pocket doors could offer up to 8m2 more usable room in a 100m2 layout in comparison to hinged styles.” You’ll have the freedom to place furniture next to the aperture and views around the space will be uninterrupted, plus light will flow more readily throughout.

This rustic door design from PC Henderson offers a barn-style finish, perfect for period properties
In this extension, two glazed sliding doors have been installed to glide back into the adjacent wall cavities, creating an open corner

Single, narrow pocket doors are fantastic for linking confined areas, such as bedrooms and ensuites. However, installing double or telescopic setups is very effective for flexibility and unobtrusively dividing and opening up large living spaces.

“Our changing lifestyles have resulted in a desire to be able to close off and open up our open-plan spaces as required,” says Caroline. The Eclisse double telescopic system can achieve an opening up to 4,680mm wide and up to 2,600mm high, for instance.

Design choices

Pocket doors work by having a recess to slide into, so it’s a lot easier for them to be integrated into a new wall than an existing one. “Having pocket doors in mind from the start of a project – and constructing walls to accommodate them – is the best approach,” says Ian Chubb from Deuren. The wall won’t need to be built any deeper than standard.

“Our designs are 44mm deep, so there must be a gap of 60mm to allow the door to slide through,” he adds. They are fairly simple to insert into wood and metal studwork or a false stud wall can be put alongside masonry. “By doing this you’ll only add 100mm of thickness, which is nothing compared to the space you will save by installing pocket doors instead of traditional hinged units,” says Caroline.

Pocket doors are usually top-hung on wheels, supported in a metal track. The system is embedded within the wall; kit products are assembled on site a bit like a meccano set.

“The door is kept in-line by a small shark-fin shaped guide, fixed to the bottom,” says Martin Hile from JB Kind. “This ensures no obstruction on the walk-through area, meaning flooring can run through zones continuously.”

Configuration options

Single leaf sliding into a wall – fantastic for small rooms where a conventional hung design would eat up available floor space.

Double doors sliding back from the centre into cavities – this will create
a wide aperture, which is great for accessible design.

Unilateral arrangements where two separate doors both slide into the same wall cavity space – good for small spaces where there’s only a suitable wall area for the product available on one side of the opening.

Curved units that slide back into a rounded wall – great for creating a contemporary feel, often seen in hallways and around spiral staircases.

Telescopic doors where a set of four doors glide back-to-back into
the cavity, with two on each side – allowing for maximum aperture that’s good for creating and closing off open-plan schemes.

Sliding doors that are also top-hung, but glide open on the outside of
the wall, often seen with a feature rail above to add decorative flair.

Browse the gallery for more pocket door designs:

In terms of style, you can opt for the traditional look by framing the unit with architraves and jambs. Alternatively, a flush finish leaves the surround bare.

“With these, the profile around the edge of the frame needs to be designed to ensure the risk of plaster cracking is kept to a minimum and allow for a crisp finish up to the edge,” says Caroline. The doors themselves are available in all varieties of finish, from hardwood and veneers through to painted.

Price point

Costs vary depending on size and spec, but expect to pay £900 or more for the whole system. “Any increases in size will understandably raise the price, as will adding glazing, or opting for a fire-rated door,” says Ian. “At Deuren, we offer an upgrade to a soft opening and closing mechanism at a slightly higher price than the standard fitting.”

Top image: These patterned, transparent double pocket doors from Eclisse add some decorative flourish to the room

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