Soft Close (and open!) Pocket Doors: Life Changing!

June 7, 2018

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We are nearing the end of our bathroom renovation–just waiting on a few final touches, lights and the glass for the shower enclosure and we can move in! (Truth: I did move some hand soap in so we could stop walking out of our room if we needed to use the restroom and I still do half the time. Habit.) We added two different pocket doors to our bathroom last week and I love a pocket door (we added two others to our kitchen/dining area–read about those here), but for these, we added special soft close hardware that a reader clued us in about, and I’m here to tell you, it’s life changing! Every pocket door needs a soft close.

To add the doors, we used Johnson pocket door frames, in 24×80 and 36×80 sizes. Due to the size of the soft close hardware, our 24in door (that’s the one that leads into the water closet) would only allow the soft close function on one direction (slows down when we open the door, or slows down when we close it). We went with slow down upon closing the door, and we love it. The 36in door was wide enough to add the hardware both directions, so it closes and opens softly.

For the pocket door leading into the bathroom, the wall is thicker on the bathroom side than it is on the bedroom side. This was done to both allow room for the shower head plumbing while keeping the door functional, and to add stability to the wall for when tile was added. Pocket door frames have a little give in them if you push their walls, which would crack the tiles and cause them to pop off. Adding 2x4s (set flat, so only 1.5in was added to the thickness of the shower wall) will keep that from happening.

For the door between the bathroom and our bedroom, we went with a 36in version of the pocket doors in our great room, and stained it with the same English Chestnut finish (followed up with a few coats of Polycrylic to seal it). We wanted the water closet (where the toilet is) to be a little more private, so opted out of the window in the door and went with a primed, 1 panel Shaker-style door. Since the surface of the door was so smooth, we used a foam roller to give it two coats of Benjamin Moore Super White in semi-gloss.

Our contractor, Scott, used a router to carve out holes for one flush pull handle on each side of the doors, and an edge pull handle as well. We went with a brass finish, which matches the knobs on our vanity perfectly.

If you follow me on Instagram Stories, you know we added a chic plaque to the white pocket door (this prive one!)  yesterday, it was too late to add a photo to the post, but I love the cheeky touch. While we still have a few things remaining, we are just so excited that we’re able to start using little parts of the bathroom here and there. And putting in a little extra time, money and effort for things like making our doors soft close, is really turning this bathroom into something special.

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What do you think?

  1. Peter says:

    Despite the instructions, you can modify a Johnson 1500 SC to both soft close and open for a 24 inch door. The reason Johnson doesn’t do so is to maintain the same system for every door size (cheaper). The technical issues preventing it are
    1. Maintain ability to replace track hardware by keeping it removable at finished end of door.
    2. Maintain same set of instructions, measurements, cuts, and hardware for every door size.

    I’ve modified my Johnson 1500 hardware to work with a 24 inch soft open and close.

    For anyone wondering how, this is what I did.
    1. When cutting the frame, do not cut the track shorter than the rough framing opening on the unfinished side of the door like the instructions say. Cut it flush with the wood at the width of the rough opening. DO NOT USE THE PREMEASURED CUT. IT WILL BE SLIGHTLY SHORT OF YOUR ROUGH OPENING.
    2. Modify the unfinished side of the frame’s steel end cap. Remove the two tabs that support the aluminum track and grind the bumps from the support of them flush. You can either cut the aluminum track a tiny bit shorter to account for the angle support bends in the steel end cap, or you can grind small knicks into the track so they fit and finish flush. I went for the grind small nicks method.
    3. Remove the aluminum track.
    4. Inset the steel end cap 1/8 deep into the frame so that it’s flush with the wood. Your track should sit evenly on it – you don’t want it to bend when you screw it in.
    5. Replace the aluminum track, drill a hole in it that matches the location of the screw groove from the steel end cap and affix the steel end cap with a screw to the wood frame and aluminum track. This provides the support we removed in step 2.
    6. The finished side of the door’s steel end cap needs to be inset so that it’s flush with the wood crossbar as well (you’ll install track over it too)
    7. Add a 2 3/4 inch piece of aluminum track to the end of the track on the finished side of the door. There should be plenty of scrap to make it. This makes the track go almost flush to the steel end cap, just like the unfinished side. You’ll want to also take the full track off the frame so you can true the end of it so it’s a smooth transition to your small piece. It is important that you keep this small track separate! It needs to be removable in the future so you can replace the hardware if needed. Affix it with at least 2 screws. You’ll need to drill holes, but similar to the other side you can use a screw on both the end cap and the track.
    8. Install your door hanging hardware on your door, but instead of 2 3/4 from the edge go flush with the edge. This allows you room for both of the soft close assemblies and critically margin to true the door with the frame.
    9. Assemble and install the frame following the instructions as given by Johnson.
    10. After hanging the door adjust the position of the stops on both the open and close side to provide 3/4in for the door jam.

    That’s it! It’ll take a few hours but in my opinion it’s well worth the effort to have soft open and close in both directions. I know it was going to drive me nuts that my 24 inch door only had soft close in one direction while my 30 inch ones were in both.

  2. Carolyn McKnight says:

    Beautiful! Where did you purchase your pocket doors?

  3. Jennifer says:

    Did you need to install any sort of plate on the side where the sliding door touches the inside of the frame (like… when you head to the toilet room and close the door behind you does that pull edge thingie just hit the inside of the frame or is there a plate for it to hit?

  4. Jennifer Torrell says:

    Did you need to install any sort of plate on the side where the sliding door touches the inside of the frame (like… when you head to the toilet room and close the door behind you does that pull edge thingie just hit the inside of the frame or is there a plate for it to hit?

  5. Margaret says:

    Really nice design all around. My husband and I are hoping to use pocket doors in our room and bathroom. I really like the frosted glass and wood door. What brand is it? Or where did you get it?

  6. Brittany says:

    I really appreciate this post!!! we are installing a pocket door and it’s my first go at learning all the necessary components ????

  7. Christy says:

    Can you share the link to the hand ratchet screw driver tool that Chris was using on stories to put up the Prive sign? I missed it but really want it!

  8. Kristie says:

    This all looks amazing! Do you know if the soft close can be added to existing pocket doors or only newly installed ones? Thanks for always sharing your reno journies!

    • Chris says:

      It seems that they have some retrofit options, though I don’t know how that works. For these, you have to cut an access hole in the wall and patch it back up afterward – but only for soft open. Soft close can be added at any time.

  9. Katy says:

    To the reader who clued CLJ in on the soft-close tip: THANK YOU!!!! Game changer! (Hands up in praise emjoi)

  10. BAILEY Baker says:

    We are framing in our water closet too but are not sure how big/small to make it and still feel comfortable to sit in there. What dimensions did you guys choose to use for the toilet room?

  11. Lindsey P says:

    What are your thoughts on coordinating/matching doors? We are finishing our basement and will be adding walls that will eliminate all the natural light from the main living area. The bedroom, furnace room, and laundry room will have bright windows. The bathroom will not have a window. I was originally planning on using frosted glass doors to the living area from the bright bedroom, furnace room, and laundry room to get as much light as possible into the space. Should I have a matching frosted door to the bathroom? It’ll be a very small bathroom so all your business will be done fairly close to the door. Or should I have 1 non-matching door for the bathroom?

  12. Lindsey says:

    Hi CLJ! Love the blog and all the info :) We are going to be putting a pocket door in our master bathroom soon and loving this info before doing it (our tiled shower wall will be a wall that the door goes into so this was super helpful!) Wondering, did you put a lock on the door to the water closet? Thanks! Lindsey

    • Julia says:

      They do sell locking pocket door hardware (in the same brand that we got) but we decided not to.

    • Ryan says:

      I was just talking about locks on bathroom doors and don’t understand why locks are necessary. They cause problems with kids locking themselves in by accident or on purpose and could also make it hard to help a family member in a medical emergency. If we can’t trust our family to respect basic privacy rules (door closed = occupied, open=available, not sure? knock) than we might have other problems.

  13. Amy says:

    Just curious, how much light comes through the frosted pane? I’m wondering, after not having any door to your bathroom for all these years,why you only went semi-private for the pocket door? If one of you needs to get ready early in the morning, is the light bright enough to bother the other sleeping still in bed? (That’s my life, our master has a weird niche cut out at the ceiling so when my husband showers at 5am, all the noise and light is right there in my face, so I am forcing my need for dark, quiet mornings on you guys, sorry!)

    • Julia says:

      We made the light in the shower dimmable, for that reason! Although, right now our morning routine isn’t super disruptive of one another. I wake up early and go to the gym and by the time I get back, Chris is up with the girls making breakfast while I shower.

  14. BLu says:

    I want to purchase a fixer-upper and pocket doors are on my list! Apart from function, I really feel like it gives the room personality!

    Blu | wellness & healthy living

  15. Vanessa says:

    I saw your insta story a while back about a rock marking up your marble. We are finishing our basement bathroom (which will primarily be used by kids) would you recommend staying away from marble or do you think it’s still an okay choice. I love it but have been cautioned by a number of people using it in a kids bathroom. Thank you!

  16. Cathy says:

    I’m dead. I love this so, so much. The details are gorgeous, the colors are lovely, but maybe the best part is the way the light pours in! Well done, you guys.

  17. Karen says:

    Um, sneak peak of the shower tile is incredible! Weeee, almost done – can’t wait to see the after post!!!

    Question: do you feel the pocket doors with glass fronts help block noise?

    • Julia says:

      They definitely do. Maybe not as much as solid ones, but we have the same wood/glass one leading to our laundry room, and I always shut it to muffle the noise of the machines when they’re going.

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