Learn how to install pocket doors on a bearing wall. Find out how a special calculation is done by your building department for installing a pocket door on a bearing wall.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Nioma (sp) in Montana who’s got a question about putting in a pocket door. How can we help you with this project?
NIOMA (sp): We have made the decision to change bedroom doors to pocket doors .
NIOMA (sp): One of the bearing walls that we would have down the center of our home has been suspended in between the hallway in our wall that we’re going to be putting the pocket door in. Is there a suggestion of what size header we should do on that thing? Should we go – we’re going across – we’re eliminating a hall closet between the two bedroom doors. And should we put a header all the way across? Would that be a better strength for that area?
TOM: Is this a bearing wall?
NIOMA (sp): It is a bearing wall. It actually would be running north-south. Our pocket …
TOM: Well …
NIOMA (sp): … doors are going to be going east-west.
TOM: OK, so the wall that you’re putting the – that you’re asking about the header is not a bearing wall, is that correct?
NIOMA (sp): Yes, it is.
TOM: It is a bearing wall? OK. This is a question, then, for your building department  because there’s a calculation involved. I don’t know how much weight is above that but I will tell you that installing a pocket door in a bearing wall is quite an involved project because a pocket door requires twice the width of the door – of an opening in order to make it work. Because what happens, of course, is the door slides into the wall. So if you had a pocket door that was a three-foot-wide pocket door, you would need a six-foot-wide opening with three feet of that being sort of hidden inside the wall. But the header would go across the whole six-foot space. So this is quite a big job and quite a costly job to have it done correctly.
Is there a real compelling reason you want to put all of these pocket doors in? Because you’re going to end up doing an awful lot of framing.
NIOMA (sp): We’ve done this with other projects. The reason probably is saving the space on a swing door …
NIOMA (sp): … and as we’re getting older it is a lot better idea to have something that is a wider entrance into these rooms.
TOM: Yeah, it absolutely is. Let me give you a suggestion. The AARP has a program with the National Association of Home Builders called CAPS. That stands for Certified Aging in Place Specialists . And these folks are specifically trained to provide the advice that you might need and the specialized construction skills that you might need to make your house more accessible. Information on that program is available at both the NAHB website as well as the AARP website and these are great people that really do know a lot about this particular topic and can probably find the least disruptive and the easiest and least expensive way to give you that access that you’re looking for, Nioma (sp).
NIOMA (sp): OK. Well, we presumed that we were going to have to, of course, go with – it’s a – [two six] (ph) doors. And so we knew we’d be going in six feet on both sides.
TOM: Right. Right, exactly. Yep, it’s a big job.
NIOMA (sp): Yeah, it is. But it’s fun, if we can do it right. (chuckling)
TOM: (chuckling) Absolutely.
Nioma (sp), thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
NIOMA (sp): You’re so welcome. Thanks for the answer.