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How to Fix a Pocket Door

If you have a pocket door that isn’t working properly, here are some remedies you can try.

Pocket door with translucent panels glides into the wall for space efficiency.

Pocket door with translucent panels glides into the wall for space efficiency.

Pocket Door Is Off Its Track

If the pocket door is off of its track, you’ll have to remove it before you can repair it. To do this:

1Use a utility knife to break the paint seal along the stop moldings on each door jamb, and then carefully pry off the moldings with a chisel or a 5-in-1 tool and flat bar.

2Position the door so that it’s centered in the doorway, tilt it toward the room, and lift the rollers out of the overhead track.[GARD align=”left”]

3Inspect the rollers to see if they’re broken, worn, or otherwise fouled. If one or both are, repair or replace both of them. You can buy pocket door hardware online or you can take your parts to a well-stocked hardware store to find matching replacements.

Repairing A Pocket Door Track

Repairing the track is trickier because it’s located inside the pocket. If possible, slide your arm into the pocket and make sure the track is screwed soundly in place. If it isn’t, do your best to tighten the screws.

A hopeless track will have to be replaced. This involves removing enough wall covering near the track to let you access the old track so you can remove it and install a new one. Unless you’re accomplished at home carpentry, call in a professional. You can buy a pocket door track replacement kit online.

Roller at the base of this pocket door is adjustable for smoother gliding on its track.

Pocket Door Does Not Roll Well

When a pocket door doesn’t work right, the problem is often with the rollers. Check that they’re fitted into the track properly. If they are, you will need to remove the door to diagnose the problem.

1Remove both stops from the head jamb and from one side jamb so that you can lift the door out. Angle the bottom out, and then lift the door up.

2Inspect the rollers to see if they’re broken or have just come loose. If the problem is just a loose roller, tighten or replace the loose screws at its base. If a roller is broken, replace both.

Pocket door tracks and rollers can also be adjusted to compensate for a warped door, but a badly warped door should be replaced.

 

How to Build a Wall Frame for a Door

Expert advice on how to build a wall frame for a new door from walls studs, plates, and other wood framing members.

This article is a continuation of the article, How to Build an Interior Wall. When building a new wall, it’s often necessary to include a door—here is how to frame it.

1Use a plumb bob to transfer your ceiling marks to the bottom plate. Then mark the placement of the new trimmer studs on the plates, using a pencil and a square. Measure 3 1/2 inches farther out on both sides to mark again, indicating the inside edges of the king studs. Cut the king studs to fit, and nail them to the plates on each side of the doorway.

Mark the stud placements, using a pencil and square.

2Where the doorway will go, cut away the plate using a reciprocating saw. Be sure the remaining parts of the plate are fastened firmly to the floor.

Toenail the king stud in place on the base plate.

3Toenail the new king studs to the plate (cut them for a tight fit). It’s easiest to pin the stud in place with 8d nails at the front and back edges before toenailing each side with two 10d nails. Make sure the studs are plumb before nailing them at the top.

4Cut the trimmer studs to the height of the door’s rough opening, and nail them to the king studs with 3-inch nails spaced about every 12 inches in a staggered pattern. Then nail a flat 2-by-4 header across the top, driving two 16d nails down through each end and into the tops of the trimmers. For added support, you can double this header with another 2-by-4 on top.

Nail a 2-by-4 header to the tops of the trimmer studs.

5Measure for short cripple studs between the header and the top plate. They should be positioned to maintain the typical stud spacing of 16 inches from center to center.

6Cut through the bottom plate with a handsaw. Remove the piece within the doorway and install the door frame.[GARD align=”left”]

NEXT SEE: How to Hang Drywall

 

Preparing for a New Doorway

Doors are sold individually or as pre-hung systems, which come already hinged in a jamb and frame. (For more about this, see Interior Doors Buying Guide.) The latter one is the easiest type to install. When you buy a pre-hung door, the manufacturer can provide you with the rough opening dimensions necessary for the structural framing. Normally, you will need to remove the wall covering for at least the rough opening plus 3 inches on each side and across the top for framing. If the door is going into a bearing wall, the rough opening may need to be even taller to allow for a header.[GARD align=”left”]

Often it is best to remove the wall covering from floor to ceiling between the two bordering studs that will remain in place. To figure out how much of a rough opening the door will need, measure the width of the door and its frame. Mark the center point of where you want the door to go on the ceiling. Then measure half the door unit’s width in each direction and mark again. These will indicate the inside faces of each trimmer stud. Add another 3 inches to each side for your surface-removal borders.

Note: In many cases, it makes sense to remove the surface material all of the way to the center of the next wall stud on both sides. This way, when you replace the wall surface material, you’ll have a existing studs to nail to (otherwise you’ll have to add studs to back the cut wallboard ends).

Be aware that when you remove a section of wall to install a new doorway, the floor must be finished where the wall once stood.

Removing Wall Materials

After covering the floor with a drop cloth, use a sharp utility knife to score deeply into the drywall along your vertical layout lines.

Score your cutting lines with a utility knife—cut deep with multiple passes.

Make several passes if necessary to cut all the way through the material. Pry the cut panels off the studs.

To remove plaster and lath, cut through the lath with a saber saw or reciprocating saw equipped with a blade made for the job; be sure to wear safety glasses, a dust mask, and gloves. To prevent unnecessary vibration, hold the saw’s foot plate firmly against the plaster. Then use a prybar to pull down chunks of the plaster and remove the lath from the studs.

Cut through the bottoms of the studs you will remove, using a reciprocating saw.

Use a reciprocating saw to cut off the studs that are located within the new opening.  Twist the stud pieces, and then pry them away from the plates.

[GARD align=”right”]

How to Determine a Bearing Wall

Many home improvements involve moving or removing a wall. But before you drag out the power saw and sledge hammer to take out a wall, you better determine whether or not it is a load-bearing wall—that is, bearing structural loads of the house other than it’s own weight. If you remove a load-bearing wall without providing replacement support—such as posts and beams that carry the weight down to the foundation—portions of your house could collapse.

bearing walls and non bearing walls

Bearing walls carry the loads of a house down to the foundation; non-bearing walls simply divide spaces. In this example, the central walls on both floors are bearing.

Almost all exterior walls are bearing walls, but most interior walls, called partition walls, do not carry the weight of the roof framing. Some do, however. A major central wall, such as that along a hallway, is likely to be bearing because it serves as a mid-way support for the load of the floor (or ceiling) joists above it, as shown in the illustration at right for typical examples.

Please see House Framing for additional information about the structure of a house.

If you intend to move or remove a load-bearing wall, you must put temporary plates at the floor and ceiling and then install temporary studs or posts between them as you work. Ultimately, a beam and posts must substitute for the wall.[GARD align=”left”]

The support necessary depends entirely upon how much weight the current wall bears and how your temporary supports will carry this. If in doubt, talk to a contractor, architect, or structural engineer before removing a bearing wall.

Bifold Door Repairs

When a bifold door opens or closes poorly, adjusting it is usually easy. On the “hinge” side of the door, a pin at the door’s bottom corner typically rests in a floor bracket, and a spring-mounted pin at the top corner engages a sliding bracket that locks into the track. If the folding door’s hardware is missing or damaged, you’ll need to replace it. You can buy folding door hardware online.

Folding doors save space, allow good access.

Folding doors save space, allow good access but can come off their pivots.

Bifold Door Drags

When the door drags or pops out of its track, it usually means that one of these two pivots has moved.[GARD align=”left”]

1Open the door, making sure its upper guide roller is in the track.

2Check the bottom corner pivot pin. Be sure it’s properly engaged in the floor bracket and adjusted to allow about 1/16-inch clearance from the jamb at the bottom corner of the door when the door is closed. To adjust its position, lift the door upward (the top pin is spring-loaded to allow this).

3Check the top pivot pin. A very common occurrence is that the sliding bracket has loosened and has slid out of position. Align it so the hinge side of the door is plumb, with about 1/16-inch clearance from the jamb when closed, and tighten the sliding bracket into the track.

4Adjust the hinge side of the door up or down by turning the bottom pin, which is threaded like a bolt. With some types, you must first lift it out of the floor bracket.

Bifold Door Is Loose

When the door is loose and wobbly, one of the pivot pins has probably worn away at its seat in the door (a hole) and come loose. The fix is to remove the pin, fill the hole with a dowel plug, and then re-drill a hole near the same location.

1Lift the door up and out at the bottom to remove it.[GARD align=”right”]

2Pull the loose pivot pin out of its hole.

 

3Enlarge the hole with a drill or hole saw so that it’s perfectly round and will receive a wooden dowel plug.

 

4Spread glue onto the dowel plug, and tap it into the hole. Wipe away any excess glue.

 

5Cut off the dowel, making sure it is flush with the door.

 

6Drill a new hole to receive the pivot pin. If the pin is damaged, replace it.

 

 

Pocket Doors Buying Guide

As the cost of buying, building, and remodeling houses continues to skyrocket, architects, home builders, and homeowners are seeking strategies to get more from less space. In the world of home building, space is money. Building a new home or adding onto an existing one costs from $70 to $130 per square foot. Add the costs of heating, cooling, and maintaining that space and it’s easy to see that every inch counts.

Pocket door with translucent panels glides into the wall for space efficiency.

Where to Use a Pocket Door

One home product that can help maximize space is the pocket door. Rather than swinging like a hinged door, a pocket door slides into a hollow cavity, or “pocket,” in the wall. It is actually a conventional door mounted on rollers that glide along an overhead track. When this type of door is used, the space normally required for the door’s swing, which can total 10 square feet or more, can be eliminated.

A pocket door doesn’t just save space—it can also solve problems, particularly in tight spots. For example, a pocket door might be used in a small half-bath that simply doesn’t have enough space for an in-swinging door and where an out-swinging door would be awkward. There, use of a pocket door could circumvent building an unnecessarily large bathroom or stealing space from an adjacent closet or similar area.

Another typical spot for a pocket door is where there is space for a regular door to swing but where it would be in the way when open. This situation is common in bathrooms, closets, and laundry rooms. Almost anywhere an open door would become an obstacle, a pocket door makes sense.

For a large, double-wide doorway between two rooms—a dining room and living room, for example—a pair of pocket doors can be a very elegant, practical addition. (Pocket doors have been used in this type of application since the turn of the century.) When open, as such doors usually are, pocket doors don’t clutter or obstruct the area around the doorway.[GARD align=”right”]

Pocket Door Construction

Today’s pocket door hardware is far more advanced than that used on older doors. While those ride on steel rollers and are noisy, balky, or jump the tracks, today’s systems have smooth, quiet, axle-mounted nylon or ball-bearing rollers and metal tracks designed for smooth, trouble-free operation.

Pocket doors are sold with their frames and hardware at home centers.

Pocket doors are sold complete with frames and hardware at home centers.

Nearly any type of door—flush, panel, louvered, glazed—may be mounted on pocket door hardware as long as the hardware is rated to handle its size and weight. Most hardware is designed for 1 3/8- inch-thick hollow-core doors weighing up to about 75 pounds, but you can buy heavy-duty hardware that will support 1 3/4-inch-thick solid-hardwood doors weighing up to 175 pounds.

A single manufacturer may offer several options; for example, Cox Hardware makes different roller/track combinations for a variety of door sizes and weights.

Pocket door systems are offered either as kits or as pre-assembled units. The pre-assembled types, sold through lumberyards and home improvement centers, include a jamb, hanger track, and pre-made cage that, when finished, becomes the pocket.

The cage is framed with lightweight lumber, yielding a weaker wall than a conventional 2-by-4-framed wall. The installer just fits the unit into a pre-framed rough opening, fastens it in place, applies the wall surface, finishes the opening with casing trim, and then hangs the from the track.[GARD align=”left”]

The kit type is only slightly more involved to install, but most are stronger because they utilize steel-reinforced split studs. Also, because kits are knocked down into flat packages, they’re easier than pre-assembled types to transport and handle.

One of the larger manufacturers, Johnson Hardware, makes a cut-to-length universal frame header, fully steel-reinforced split jamb and stud uprights, and removable track hardware. The kit is designed for very fast installation into a pre-framed rough opening. Complete instructions make this a manageable job for do-it-yourselfers. Standard sizes are for doors up to 3 feet wide and 6 feet, 8 inches tall, but other systems for larger doors may be special-ordered.

Pocket Door Installation

Because a pocket door is installed inside a wall, you should make every effort to avoid problems that could occur some time down the line.

Buy quality hardware that matches the weight and size requirements of the door. Rollers should be the type that won’t jump the track; the type that can be released from the door with a flip of a small lever are worth considering. Also look for a track that can be removed without having to tear out the walls.

Hire a qualified installer or, if you do the work yourself, be sure the header is level and side jambs are plumb. Allow a 3/16-inch clearance between jambs and door so that, if the door warps slightly over time, it won’t bind in the jambs.

And last but not least, take care in painting both the door and jambs to avoid paint buildup that could cause the door to stick.

 

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