Tags: Categories: Home Improvement

7 Alternatives to Pocket Doors


I have a love / hate relationship with pocket doors.  I love them because they're a great space-saving door.  You don't need any clearance on either side of the door so they're great for tighter spaces and small rooms (such as powder rooms). However, I hate them because they inevitably fall off the rail which is difficult to fix.  I've put far too many pocket doors back on their rails over the years.   How do they fall off the rails?   In a short answer: kids.  Kids love slamming them open and close until either they crunch their fingers or the door ends up off the rail.

Vintage-type pocket door with frosted glass.

I have a love / hate relationship with pocket doors.  I love them because they’re a great space-saving door.  You don’t need any clearance on either side of the door so they’re great for tighter spaces and small rooms (such as powder rooms).

However, I hate them because they inevitably fall off the rail which is difficult to fix.  I’ve put far too many pocket doors back on their rails over the years.   How do they fall off the rails?   In a short answer: kids.  Kids love slamming them open and close until either they crunch their fingers or the door ends up off the rail.

If you don’t want a pocket door in your home and are looking for alternatives to pocket doors, you’re in the right place.  Below we set out 7 pocket door alternatives.

1. Pre-Hung

Single, pre-hung door in light maple.
Source: Home Depot

Pros

  • These doors make it a lot easier to complete a renovation in the home as they come already in the door frame and with all of the necessary hardware. Installation is fast and easy.
  • If the entire door and frame have been damaged, then this is a great choice as it is very quick to install and will save a lot of money over making all of the individual repairs.
  • When correctly installed, they will last for years and nobody will be able to tell that the door is a replacement.

Cons

  • Unfortunately, this is not a great option if you are simply looking to replace an existing door. Removing the door frame only to install a new one would involve a lot of extra work. If, however, the room is currently being renovated or the home is under construction, then these doors can save a lot of time, money, and frustration.
  • They are very heavy and bulky, making them difficult to maneuver. For this reason, even some of the most experienced and confident homeowners will opt to hire a professional to complete the installation. This, of course, will increase the total cost of the door.
  • If the door is not installed completely level with the home, then there will be problems opening and closing it.

2. Bi-Fold

Detailed bi-fold door in primed white.

Source: Home Depot

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Pros

  • These doors can open up to about 90% of the width of the door frame due to the way that the two panels will fold up against each other. This makes it very easy to get in and out of a room and when left open, it will make the whole space feel more connected.
  • Homeowners don’t have to worry about clearance behind or in front of the door because of the way these open to the side. This is ideal in cramped situations.
  • It is relatively easy to install bi-fold doors in most any doorframe of the home and they come in a number of sizes so that they can be used throughout the home.
  • Because they are so easy to operate, homeowners don’t have to worry about small children being able to open or close a door.
  • There are a number of different styles and designs of bi-fold doors, which means that every homeowner will be able to find a door that fits with the appearance and feel of his or her home.

Cons

  • If the bi-fold doors aren’t installed correctly or something damages the track, then they can be very difficult to operate. This will result in doors that swing out from the frame and get in the way instead of folding up to the side the way they are supposed to.
  • Children’s fingers and animals can get stuck in the door when it folds back if they are not paying attention.
  • They do not improve the resale value of a home the way that some other door options will.

3. Slab

Unfinished, textured slab door.

Source: Home Depot

Pros

  • Great for the homeowner who truly wants a blank slate, slab doors allow for full customization. The homeowner will be able to pick all hardware for the door and make sure that it matches the rest of the home.
  • Many people are drawn to this kind of door because of the simple design and straight lines. It is a classic-looking door and will improve the appearance of the space.
  • There are often different styles to choose from.
  • Slab doors are easy to clean and don’t usually show a lot of dirt.
  • These doors can easily be painted or stained to match the rest of the décor of the home and as long as high-quality products are used, then they can be repainted time and time again.
  • They are perfect for very fast updates in the home and can come primed or unfinished, depending on the amount of work that the homeowner is willing to put into finishing the door.

Cons

  • Not all people are fond of slab-style doors so homeowners who are going to be listing their homes for sale in the next few years may want to consider other options to ensure that their homes appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.
  • It can be very frustrating to try to buy hardware for the door and not be able to find some that will match the rest of the home.
  • The hollow sound when the slab doors are tapped doesn’t appeal to a lot of people and can make the door sound cheap.
  • Higher-quality solid doors are going to cost more.

4. Barn

Rustic barn door with frosted glass.

Source: Home Depot

Pros

  • This type of door is perfect in smaller spaces as it does not need a lot of space to open and close.
  • It’s a fairly easy DIY job to install a barn door over a current door opening in your home.
  • This is a very modern look that a lot of homeowners like and in the right style home, it can really improve the overall appearance of the room.

Cons

  • They can be very noisy to open and to close if the track is not cleaned and lubricated on a regular basis. This can make it very difficult for some people to sleep through the door being opened and closed and may wake up children in particular.
  • The wall has to be strong enough to be able to support the heavy hardware that is necessary for a barn door.
  • They don’t provide total privacy, which can be an issue if they are used as the bathroom door.
  • The door can cover power outlets and switches when it is open, which is very inconvenient. In addition, it’s tricky to decorate or hang art behind where the door will be as it may knock the art off of the wall.
  • There is no way to install shelving on the wall where the door slides as there won’t be enough room when the door is open.
  • If the wrong kind of door is installed, then it may be so heavy that the family members have problems operating it easily.

5. French

French doors for access to home office

Pros

  • French doors create the illusion of space. No matter the size of the room where you have them installed, they will automatically make the whole area feel more spacious and open.
  • You can easily open two rooms up at the same time, allowing for an open feel. This also encourages people to mingle during parties and makes the room feel bigger.
  • Even when they are closed, the windows will allow light to travel from room to room and make the space feel bigger.

Cons

  • These doors need a lot of room to be able to open fully and because of this, they generally will not work well in a smaller home.
  • They are a very dramatic look and one that won’t work well in every home.
  • It is very difficult to install French doors correctly and they will not work the way that they should if they are hung at an angle.
  • This is one of the more expensive door options available.
  • If the door frame where you want to install French doors isn’t wide enough, then homeowners will have to pay an expert to come and remove part of the wall to make room. This will add to the final cost of the new doors.
  • They aren’t a great choice for the bedroom as they do not offer a lot of privacy. For the same reason, most homeowners will avoid installing them in the bathroom.

6. Sliding

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Wooden sliding door in an Espresso shade.Source: Home Depot

Pros

  • They do not take up a lot of space when they open as they will simply slide behind the other door.
  • Sliding doors that have bottom and top tracks are much more stable and secure than the hanging ones that operate only with the top track.
  • Sliding doors come in a number of different styles and can add a lot of visual interest to a home.
  • They can be a focal point in the room or blend in more, which will create the illusion of a streamlined space without a door.

Cons

  • Because you can’t open both sides of the door at the same time, you will never be able to enjoy a wide door. This can make it difficult to carry large things through the frame and will make the space feel cramped.
  • The bottom track on sliding doors, while it does keep the door working properly, is a trip hazard in the home.
  • If the tracks are not well maintained, then they will become dirty and the door will not move smoothly. This will result in frustration and loud noises as the door opens and closes.

7. Hidden

White, hidden door with storage.

Source: Home Depot

Pros

  • Hidden doors are a great way to maximize storage space as they will generally have a bookcase on one side.
  • They’re perfect for a man cave or a secret room that you don’t want guests to know about.
  • They come in a variety of styles that will match the home so that they aren’t very obvious to guests.
  • Wall-to-wall bookshelves are finally possible in a library.

Cons

  • These doors are a little tricky to install and  m are generally very heavy. It’s a good idea to have professional help with the installation to make sure that the door is really hidden.
  • If locked from the door side, then it is almost impossible to open the door from the side with the bookshelf.

Vote for your favorite interior door

Tags: Categories: Home Improvement


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