For homeowners with limited space or for those who crave unique aesthetic style, pocket doors serve the need perfectly. Pocket doors are frameless and hollow inside, and while similar to other sliding doors, set themselves apart from the competition because they attach to the top of the door using hangars. When the door is completely opened, it is out of sight, saving space as it adds character and ambiance to your area.
Knowing how to take off a pocket door is wise because the doors can sustain a variety of damages that require proper repair to keep it working as it should. Over time, wear and tear to the door and its accompanying parts can cause the door inability to slide across the track properly, damaged pieces, and other hassles. Hiring a handyman to complete the repair work to revive the door back to working condition is unnecessary. For most people, it’s easy to take off a pocket door themselves, with just a few tools needed, and begin those repairs.
Using the step-by-step instructions below, homeowners can learn how to take off a pocket door and complete the project themselves in about half a day. Once the door is removed, making repairs or replacing the door with an updated style is simple. The instructions below also help you replace the door after you’ve made the repairs needed Gather tools needed to remove the pocket door before the project begins. Only a few items are needed for this task, so ensure that you’re prepared ahead of time. Follow these instructions to remove -and replace- a pocket door, making any necessary repairs during the process.
Remove the Door and Trim
The removal of the pocket door and frame can become a messy job, particularly for older doors. Before you begin the project, laying a tarp or other cover down minimizes the dirt left behind inside your home. To remove the door from the opening, simply grabs the door with both hands and pull it toward you, lifting the door from the rollers in the track.
There is a strip of wood running alongside the jamb of the pocket door that you need to remove before the door can be taken down. This strip of wood is known as the stop. Removing the door is simple with a utility knife and pry bar. Use the utility knife to score the caulk and that holds the stop in place. This makes it easier to remove. Then, use the pry bar to pull up the stop. Carefully remove the pieces so they’ll remain intact and usable when replacing the pocket door. You’ll notice screws underneath the bar. Remove the screws now, although the track screws are still unaccessible inside the wall.
To remove the hidden screws inside the wall, an opening in the wallboard should be made. A stud finder can be used to find and mark the internal framework on the pocket door. Mark the location with a pencil. Ensure the opening is large enough for your screwdriver to fit inside, but no larger. Use a wallboard saw to cut a square opening. Don't damage the cutout and it can be reused to repair the hole.
Remove & Replace the Old Track
Single pocket doors and double pocket doors are available for purchase, if you plan to replace the door that you’ve just removed. Whether you purchase a new pocket door or not, frame hardware kits are sold to help you replace an existing structure once it’s removed. These kits contain all the information needed to remove and reinstall the new track. Before you visit the hardware store to purchase the kit, you first should know the size of the door.
Use a measuring tape to determine the thickness level of the frame you should purchase, measuring the length, width, and thickness of the old door. It is imperative that the door or frame that you purchase is square and plumb in the opening, so be sure to use the instructions accommodating the frame kit. Remove the screws remaining in the track and pull the track out through the opening of the door. Should you notice gaps in the fit of the door, correct them now. Remove the floor plate for the rough opening and construct a new door frame according to the kit’s instructions. If the frame isn’t exact size, a reciprocating saw can be used to trim it to proper length.
The new track must be level, which will alleviate many problems with gapping. Place shims under the new track, since settling may have occurred since the original installation of the pocket door. Once the track is level, screw it into place. Follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompanied the track to make installation easier. Many of the newer pocket door tracks require that you use rollers on the track. These rollers must be installed before the track has been screwed in, else you’ll likely encounter many hassles. If your track requires rollers, the next step teaches you how to install them.
Install the Rollers
The rollers that run inside the metal track are made of metal and nylon materials and feature three or four rollers. Lack of lubrication and wear and tear cause the bearings in the rollers to tighten, making them difficult and sometimes impossible to move. When adding rollers, they must fit inside the track’s grooves. The track style is made into a ‘C’ shape that has sides that curl to make the groove. Sometimes kits are sold that include the track.
Find the opening at the end of the track on the strike side of the pocket door. Place the roller track into this opening, moving it until the wheels easily roll into the track. Move the roller to the middle of the door opening, titling and pushing until the next set of rollers engage inside the track. Position the track so that all the rollers are inside the grooves. This is oftentimes easier said than done, so prepare to spend a bit of time on this task. Before proceeding with pocket door removal, roll the roller back and forth to ensure that it is properly working.
Replace the Hardware
Now that the rollers are in place, you can remove the door panel to install the new hardware. After you’ve screwed it into place, rehang the door. A pry bar and shims make it easier to lift the door into place because you need to hold it at the right height to secure the hardware at the top of the door. Make adjustments as necessary after the new door panel hardware is in place. Most doors require a few adjustments be made to work properly.
If you saved the trim that you originally removed from the old door, you can put it back on now. However, you can opt to use new pieces if you choose. Reusing the old trim saves time and money, and reduces hassle of finding molding the perfectly matches the old profile.
Repair Wall and Latch Opening
The access hole that you earlier cut into the wallboard must now be repaired. Reusing the same material is possible, so long as you carefully made the cut out and didn't damage the piece. Backers should be placed in the opening using drywall screws. Leave one-inch of the screw exposed in the hole to provide support to the loose piece and provides an anchor. Use quick-dry joint compound to fill the screw holes. Sand the area when dry, preparing to prime and paint next. Use a wood filler to fill the mortises and the old holes. This provides you a new surface to work with. Once the filler is applied, allow it time to begin drying, but begin trimming off excess before it gets rubbery. Taking this steps saves sanding time later on. When completely dry, sand it to smoothness.
Use you Forstner bit to drill several overlapping holes to form a latch opening. Make the hole the right size for your latch. Use a chisel to adjust the opening or remove wood that exists between holes. A faceplate will cover the latch, so don't worry if it doesn't fit perfectly. Screw the latch into place, but leave it loose. Use a utility knife to score the outside plate. Remove the latch, and use the chisel to remove the wood from the scored area. Remove enough wood so that the faceplate can fit flush into the edge of the door.
With the pocket door frame in place, you’re now ready to install a new door or add other decorative touches to the space. If you’re adding a new pocket door, attach the rollers inside the track, ensuring that it operates smoothly before finishing the project.