How to Replace a Regular Door With a Sliding Door

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Measure carefully for the pocket door.
Measure carefully for the pocket door. (Image: New house image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com)

Replacing a regular swing door with a sliding, or pocket, door is an efficient way to take full advantage of more room area. Putting the door in the wall frees up the usual swing path area of the standard door and allows the wall usually hidden by a swing door to be used as a part of the rest of the room. While this transformation is not an easy or quick job, it can be accomplished with sufficient carpentry skills and experience.

Things You'll Need

  • Reciprocating saw
  • Framing hammer
  • Pocket door
  • Pocket door kit
  • 2x4 Studs
  • Hack saw
  • Dry wall
  • Dry wall mud and tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Interior paint
  • Paint brush

Measure the wall into which the sliding door will be housed. Make sure you have at least twice the width of the regular swing door, plus three to four inches space, in the mounting wall. Check to make sure the wall housing the pocket door is not a load bearing wall for the entire structure. Do not tear into a load bearing wall. Call the professionals. Examine the section of the wall that will house the door to confirm there are no electrical wires, outlets or switches. Call an electrician if there are wires in the wall.

Use a reciprocating saw to saw through the nails holding the swinging door and frame, freeing up the entire door and frame. Get help to set the entire assembly out of the opening. Cut out the drywall next to the new opening to expose the wall studs. Cut out the section of drywall above the old door frame. Cut the nails that are holding the door header in place and remove it.

Call the professionals if there are wires in the wall.
Call the professionals if there are wires in the wall. (Image: electrician image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Cut a 2x4 long enough to be the new header for the pocket door. Nail it into place at both ends, and use screws to attach it to the cripple studs in the middle. (The cripple studs are the studs sawed through and the bottom 2/3 removed to make room for the pocket door assembly. The top 1/3 that is remaining is the cripple stud.) Use a hack saw to cut the sliding track from the pocket door kit to the new frame length. Screw it into place through the mounting brackets at each end. Set the split studs into the floor brackets and nail in the tops to the header. (The split studs are the half-width studs within the pocket assembly that the pocket door will slide between.)

Cut a 2x4 header to fit the new opening.
Cut a 2x4 header to fit the new opening. (Image: wood boards texture image by starush from Fotolia.com)

Attach the door hardware and hang the door. Adjust for level, and make sure the door moves easily and freely, as you lock in the adjustment nuts.

Rehang the drywall that was removed to get the door installed. Use drywall adhesive and a cordless screw gun. Set the head of the gun to slightly bury the head of the screws. Attach the drywall to the wall studs. Apply mud and finishing tape to the drywall joints. Sand and paint the drywall to match the existing walls.

Refinish the drywall to match the other walls.
Refinish the drywall to match the other walls. (Image: drywall worker image by Sherri Camp from Fotolia.com)

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult a professional, if needed to confirm whether the wall is load bearing or not.
  • Unless you have extensive building and remodeling experience, do not try this job without licensed help.
  • Use caution with saws, and always wear eye protection when cutting metal (nails).

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