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Old 02-24-2010, 06:14 PM   #1
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pocket door in load bearing wall


I would like to put a pocket door in a load bearing wall. I was wondering if this was an obvious do or don't.

I also would like to enlarge the opening for this pocket door. I am told that I can but only to a certain degree. I believe I was told that I could take out the existing 2 x 4's and replace them with 1 x 4's. Is that correct?

However I enlarge the opening I will have to remove the base under the wall. There is a spacer of sorts under the walls. Once I enlarge the doorway I will need to cut that out of the way. I was thinking a sawzall-carefully so I don't cut into the sub floor. Any recomendations?

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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Old 02-24-2010, 09:26 PM   #2
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pocket door in load bearing wall


A pocket door framed opening overall is about double the width of the door itself, and the header must be sized and support accordingly. Johnson makes excellent pocket door kits and they have good instructions and videos on their website. http://www.johnsonhardware.com/pdindex.htm

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Old 02-24-2010, 10:07 PM   #3
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pocket door in load bearing wall


As far as the "base under the wall" I would use a flush cut saw it is less aggressive and you get cleaner cut, but I can't see what you are doing exactly so it is just an idea. As far as your door frame. You are going to have to replace the header that should be above the existing door. You will need to replace it with one that extends the entire new opening. That being said, in some cities a permit is required to do this and I would highly suggest getting a structural engineer involved. You are looking at taking on a much larger load and they would know best on what size header would be required.

Good Luck and be safe.
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Old 02-26-2010, 09:14 AM   #4
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pocket door in load bearing wall


I had the same challenge. My solution may or may not work for your situation. I built a 2x4 framed wall parallel to the load bearing wall. Obviously this one doesn't need a fancy header; just one to support the door hardware. The width of the door frame trim becomes about 8", which actually looks quite nice.
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Old 02-26-2010, 01:45 PM   #5
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pocket door in load bearing wall


It is not that unusual, just consider:

1 . The header across the door must be deep enough to span twice the width of the door (the opening is actually twice the door width plus one inch inside the ro)

2. You need at least a 2 x 4 jack stud for the ends of the header to bear on; 1 x 4 is not enough.

3. The bottom of the header needs to be higher (4 1/2"), than a regular door to allow for the track, and it is essential that it be installed level.

4. By "spacer" I'm guessing you are referring to the bottom plate of the wall. A reciprocating saw will work as any sratches or light cuts in
the subfloor will be covered by the finsish flooring.

5. Remember to use short screws when applying the drywall to the pocket door studs as they are thin.

6. As recommended, "Johnson" makes a good kit, with clear instructions.

7. It is not rocket science, but attention to detail is a must, if you do not want to be forever cursing this door.

Last edited by troubleseeker; 02-26-2010 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:02 PM   #6
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pocket door in load bearing wall


Thank you for your replies. I was told that I would have to do some bracing in the attic if I was to put in a pocket door. Is this true?
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:34 PM   #7
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pocket door in load bearing wall


Just food for thought...

I worked for a very talented architect who would say, "never put in a pocket door." His reasons, they are difficult for people to open, and unless they are very high quality they will not work perfectly for long.

Hopefully I didn't derail your thread too much.
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:42 PM   #8
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pocket door in load bearing wall


you need to have someone with carpentry skills(good skills) come look at what you are doing and get the header and any attic changes engineered for proper load carry. things could fall down very quickly if not done correctly
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Old 02-26-2010, 09:33 PM   #9
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pocket door in load bearing wall


Quote:
Originally Posted by drywallIdaho View Post
Just food for thought...

I worked for a very talented architect who would say, "never put in a pocket door." His reasons, they are difficult for people to open, and unless they are very high quality they will not work perfectly for long.

Hopefully I didn't derail your thread too much.
I agree, I would typically only use a pocket door where there is not a alternative to doing so. A big advantage to the Johnson kits are they have steel 'studs' - so no warping and they resist the drywaller who use too long fasteners. A good quality door should be used, with all the edges well sealed to keep the shape stable. The framing and installation needs to be true and square. A pocket door is not a place to buy cheap materials or do a sloppy installation.
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Old 02-26-2010, 10:52 PM   #10
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pocket door in load bearing wall


As others have said, it needs more than 1x4's! The header size is critical; the number of jack studs is critical; the proper bearing of the jacks to the ground or basement footing is critical; the amount of the load above and whether or not it is a point load or distributed load is critical; did I mention critical enough, lol. The spacer may be the bottom plate? If the wall height is not tall enough to install a proper sized header at the taller pocket door height, it may be possible to install the header in the attic, on top of the wall, under the attic load. I suggest you hire a professional and get a permit to accept the liability involved for insurance purposes. You could have roof load purlins and struts or other parts to support.

Be safe, Gary
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:35 PM   #11
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pocket door in load bearing wall


Thank you again for the feedback. I will hire it done. No skimping on funds. I still wonder if anything needs to be done in the attic. One says yes the other no. Not on here, friends of mine. Is there a definite answer?
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Old 02-28-2010, 02:35 PM   #12
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pocket door in load bearing wall


Post a picture of the wall top in the attic.

Be safe, Gary
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:23 PM   #13
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pocket door in load bearing wall


I can't my camera is OOO (out of order). Can you tell me what to look for? I can go up and pull back all of the insulation.
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:31 PM   #14
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pocket door in load bearing wall


I was up in the attic today. When the insulation is pulled away you can see the support beam from the top of the wall. The plaster ceilings but up to it. The joists in the attic overlap above the 2 x 4 beam. In the area where I plan to put the pocket door they are 2 x 6's. Then off to the side there are 2 x 6's attached to 2 x 4's. Not sure if this last info is relevant or not.
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Old 03-07-2010, 08:02 PM   #15
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pocket door in load bearing wall


Quote:
Originally Posted by drywallIdaho View Post
Just food for thought...

I worked for a very talented architect who would say, "never put in a pocket door." His reasons, they are difficult for people to open, and unless they are very high quality they will not work perfectly for long.

Hopefully I didn't derail your thread too much.
That was true before the advent of modern decent tracks and three wheeled trollys. If you stick with Johnson Hardware kits, you will have a unit that will work without problems, assuming the installation is not done by some half ass bafoon. This has to be done right...track must be level and studs must be plumb. I use a plumb bob to set the ones at the door edge...they are the most crucial, the others can be off a little and be ok. It is also important that the two end studs are perfectly square across the pocket from each other, so the sight line of the two studs and the edge of the door are in line.

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