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Page 2 of 7: cut opening for pocket door
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Pocket door comes in two parts. Attach pocket door frame and head rail. The drywall must be cut back 1-1/2" wider than width of pocket door head rail.
For this project, the left side of existing door is going to remain in place. Check plumb of left side 2x4. If 2x4 is not straight up and down, it can affect installation. When you cut opening, allow for narrowest part of the left side so opening will be wide enough.
Mark wall for cutting. Make a line where the wire passes across the cut line to ensure no electrical damage.
Across the top and on the left side, cut drywall 1" away from corner and ceiling. leaving 1" of old drywall is more work up front, but it will save time later. Leaving 1" will preserve the tape joint so ceiling does not need to be re-painted or textured. If the left side wall has accent wallpaper, then leaving 1" along the corner will save time and money.

Select standard size pocket door: 30"-32"-36"
30" door is probably too small, unless room is very small.
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Cut drywall. Be careful to identify location of wires before cutting.
Cut slow and shallow using reciprocating saw, jig saw. Safest choice of tool is hand-held drywall saw because it will not damage pipes easily and you can feel obstacles inside the wall. Any saw blade can damage wires.

I usually do not remove drywall all the way to the ceiling. Instead, leave 1+" strip of drywall across the top to preserve the tape joint. This also preserves ceiling so it does not need re-painting. Saves a lot of work.
Across the top: You can use utility knife to score a deep cut along the top... then use hammer and chisel to break away the drywall.

One trick I use on the vertical cut down the wall is cut back to a hollow place between 2x4s. This lets me insert a new 2x4 inside the wall instead of trying to remove drywall and tape joint half off existing 2x4.

Keep cuts straight. Use utility knife to remove rough edges that might interfere with final drywall finish.
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If you have wallpaper or cabinet etc on one side of the wall, for example in a hallway, bathroom etc, it is possible to remove drywall from one side of wall.
This trick will preserve wallpaper and potentially save a lot of work and expense in some situations, but takes extra work up front to carefully remove 2x4's without tearing up the remaining drywall.

To leave drywall intact on one side, the 2x4s have to be removed without tearing holes on the other side. Work slow. Cut 2x4s into pieces and remove bit at a time. For example, use reciprocating saw to cut the 2x4 into 4 or 5 short lengths. Another method that helps: remove hack saw blade from frame. Using hand, push blade between the 2x4 and drywall to cut nails. The work is time consuming and hard on the hand. Another trick is use a saw to split the 2x4 down the length, leaving a 1/2" piece stuck to the drywall.

I left the drywall on one side when installing double pocket door at my house. There were bathroom cabinets and texture on other side of the wall, and using techniques described above saved a serious amount of work removing cabinets, trim, and messing with tile floor. The job became easy because just one side of the new frame needed drywall, texture and paint.

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Reciprocating saw is easiest way to remove old frame.
Cut wood with wood blade and nails with metal blade.

Reuse old wood as much as possible, use for extra bracing or next project. Do not throw real wood into the trash. The only thing that belongs in trash is particle board. Other items, old nails, wire, outlet box can be reused or recycled.
Modern remodeling shows on TV show the hosts breaking apart wood cabinets, doors and framing with a big hammer and throwing into the dumpster. The replacement cabinets are generally cheap particle board junk that does not stand the test of time or moisture. The chemical content of particle board is detrimental to human health.
TV images are inconsistent with human life.

The old header is made from two boards sandwiched together with 1/2" plywood in the middle. This can be taken apart with some effort and the old header reused in 2 parts to make half of new header. The plywood likewise can be used to make new header. The extra work saves money and is correct choice for the planet's forests. Wall 2x4 that are cut in half during removal can be recycle on another project or as 2x4s inside the wall by nailing 2 pieces together with an overlay 2x4 that secures both sections together.
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End page 2/ How to install pocket door
Back to
page 1 remove old door and trim


Go to next pages:
page 3 install new frame for pocket door   
page 4 install switch on pocket door

page 5 install drywall on pocket door  

page 6 reinstall trim, texture, paint  
page 7 install handrail on pocket door


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