Can You Install A Pocket Door In A Load-Bearing Wall? (Find Out Now!)

Dennis Howard
by Dennis Howard

Pocket doors fell out of favor with designers and builders for many years. However, many people find that a pocket door often adds useable floor space back into a room, making the house feel larger and more inviting. Many homeowners wonder if it is possible to install a pocket door unit in a load-bearing wall.

Pocket doors can be installed on load-bearing walls. Installing a pocket door where a standard once hung requires adding a longer header beam over the pocket door opening to carry the weight from above. In addition, any electrical wiring, pipes, or vents must also be moved. Putting a pocket door into a load-bearing is a job for a professional framer.

Pocket doors are great space savers in a room and can create a new ambiance in a space. Elegant pocket doors once graced many fine Victorian homes. Installing a pocket door is not a huge project and, in most cases, can be handled by the average do-it-yourselfer. However, there are special considerations if the wall is load-bearing. It is possible but can raise other challenges during the installation.

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Is Your Space Suitable for a Pocket Door?

There are several things to consider before starting the installation of your pocket door kit. A few of these considerations may rule out the use of a pocket door in a given space. Others may require more extensive and expensive work than you want to expend to add the pocket door. If you consider a pocket door installation in your home, examine the space and consider these questions.

Is There Enough Room?

Make sure there is enough room on one side of the current door opening to install the pocket portion of a pocket door. If your home has standard thirty-inch interior doors, you must have at least another thirty-two inches on the side of the door opening for the pocket. This means that you will need a rough opening of approximately sixty-two inches. You must have this much room on both sides of the wall.

Does the Wall Contain Electrical or Plumbing?

If plumbing or electrical wiring runs in the wall beside the door, more work is involved. Common electrical problems include light switches on the wall next to the existing door. Outlets installed where the pocket must be placed also need attention. You may find electrical wiring running vertically in the wall that you can’t see until you start the demolition for the pocket door installation

Plumbing may also be present inside the wall and not visible from the outside. Hot and cold water runs going to a second floor or not uncommon. You may also encounter drain pipes or vent pipes running vertically inside the wall.

Dealing with these kinds of issues requires the services of plumbers and electricians. This can add costs to the pocket door project that may make it unattractive to many homeowners.

Is the Wall a Load Bearing Wall?

Just because you live in a single-story home doesn’t mean you don’t have interior load-bearing walls. Many single-story homes have interior load-bearing walls to support the roof structure. If you aren’t sure if the wall in question is loadbearing, you should consult with a professional contractor or builder.

In some localities, making structural alterations to a load-bearing wall requires a building permit and inspections to ensure that the wall is properly supported. A licensed contractor or a visit to your local building permit department can answer these questions.

In any case, if the wall is load-bearing, significant structural work must be performed to adequately support the weight above the door opening. This usually involves installing a larger and longer header over the pocket door opening to carry the weight. Unless this is done correctly, you risk structural damage and other problems further down the road.

Choosing a Pocket Door Kit

Pocket door kits come in a variety of styles, designs, and quality. Our recommendation is that you purchase the best pocket door kit you can find. Buying at the upper end of the pocket door line can help prevent problems and frustrations later.

In general, the things you want to consider when selecting a pocket door kit include:

  • Hardware and fitting – Purchasing a pocket door kit with good hardware and fittings add life expectancy to the door. Fittings, such as roller and rail, often fail quickly. This is especially true if the door will get a lot of use.
  • Frame construction – The construction of the pocket frame is also important. Make sure the framing is solid and that fasteners are top quality. Flimsy framing will often shift and sag, allowing the framing to contact the door as it opens and closes. If the joints on the framing are not tight and well made, the whole integrity of the door frame is questionable.
  • Doors – Almost any door can be used as a pocket door. You can buy pocket door kits without the door. This involves more work to install the hardware on a new door and adjust it to fit properly. You can buy just the roller and track hardware and build your pocket door frame from scratch. This requires some skill and is not usually a good choice for do-it-yourselfers.

You will do yourself a favor by buying the highest quality pocket door kit available. These better kits are easier to install, last longer, and give fewer problems.

What Are Some of the Downsides to Pocket Doors?

Pocket doors are great space savers and can completely change the character of a room. On the other hand, homeowners should consider some downsides to installing pocket doors before starting a remodel project.

Up-Front Expense

Pocket doors are more expensive to install. Adding pocket doors to an exiting home can be even more expensive. The cost of the door units is usually higher than a standard door and frame kit. If the wall is load-bearing, more work is needed to create a structurally sound opening for the pocket door.

During a remodel, you may need to move existing plumbing or electrical to make room for a pocket door. This can add time and expense to the project as well.

Maintenance and Care

Maintenance and care can become an issue with pocket doors. The rollers and tracks that support the pocket door can suffer damage and wear that requires attention. Unlike a standard door that swings on hinges, replacing or repairing a pocket door system can be expensive and time-consuming.


Pocket doors make securing the area behind the door unit much more involved. Finding lock mechanisms that are secure for a pocket door can be a challenge. If the area behind the door needs to be tightly secured, a pocket door may not be the best option.

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Pocket Doors and Load Bearing Walls

Pocket doors can add a whole new dimension to your home. However, you must be aware of the problems you may face when installing a pocket door into a load-bearing wall. We recommend hiring a professional builder or contractor if your pocket door installation is a load-bearing wall location.

Dennis Howard
Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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