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Page 3 of 7: How to install pocket door
install new 2x4 frame and header for pocket door
Assemble header.
Measure the top rail of pocket door frame, add 1-1/2 to 2" for extra width, then add 3" more because header sits on top of wall 2x4s.

New header is made from 2 pieces of 2x6 or 2x8 with 1/2" plywood sandwiched between.  I suggest as much as possible to preserve and reuse old wood. For example the old header can be used to make 1 side of new header. Old wood should be inpected for mold and wood eating bugs before re-use. Look for white or black mould and small pin holes on wood. Surface mould can be cleaned with bleach and apply coat kilz. Likewise wood with slight burns can be treated with kilz.

Don't let the header protrude out wider than 2x4. For example if header is made from wood that has a twist, the finished header can jut out wider than the 2x4. This causes a problem because the drywall will not lay flat.
Use disc sander to make even with 2x4.

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Disconnect wire from switch and pull out cable stables that hold wire to 2x4. Be careful to turn off power then cap and tape ends of wire. Cap both wires together if you need light to stay ON. 

Leave left side of door frame intact.

Make sure new header is high enough. To increase height, add small pieces of wood on top of 2x4 on left side.

Check plumb of left side 2x4. If the existing 2x4 door frame on left side is plumb (straight up and down) on left side, then smaller opening is fine. If 2x4 frame is crooked, then wider opening is best.
You want final opening to be minimum 1-1/4"+ wider and higher than pocket door frame. Typical house frame is specified at 2" wider and taller. 
Extra space is needed so final pocket door frame can be made plumb and level. 
A crooked pocket door install will look wrong, and there is no way to fix it.

Cut back bottom plate to fit pocket door. Bottom plate is a single 2x4.
To make the new door frame, install double 2x4 so header can sit on one 2x4. Make sure header sits high enough for pocket door. The other 2x4 runs up to the top plate. 

The wire from switch will be too short to reach new switch.
Drill holes so wire can run across the header as illustrated.
Install new or recycled 2x4s using #12 nails.
Wear safety glasses.

Set new header in place. Header is made from two 2x6's or 2x8s with 1/2 plywood sandwiched between.

Trick: Tack the boards in place. Do not drive nails all the way down, until you can check the fit of frame

Make sure pocket door frame fits opening before final nailing.

The left side door jamb does not come with the pocket door.
Buy standard door jamb. Make sure width of jamb matches width of pocket door frame. Slightly wider or narrower is fine. More than 3/16" difference can be a problem when applying trim and caulk. 
Pocket door installation
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Install pocket door frame.
Put rollers on the track before nailing up frame. The pocket door frame gives you the top and one side of a door frame. The left side will be a standard door jamb from lumber yard. Make sure pocket door frame is plumb and level. Tack the frame into place and then check level. Add another nail, then check level etc. Use pry bar and hammer to move frame around after each nail. Add shims as needed.
Pocket door frame can be nailed to floor and nailed to 2x4. Do not nail pocket door frame to header since drywall, new door jamb and casing will supply stability. 
Buy door jamb for left side of opening, and nail to pocket door frame at top.
After nailing the new jamb at top, one trick I use is to loosely set the jamb into place with no nails and then use the final door casing trim to hold it firmly in place. This will ensure that jamb lines up with old flooring, plus this trick assists you when installing door, and makes sure sliding door will meet jamb evenly.
Pocket door frame
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End page 3/ How to install pocket door
Back to
page 1 remove old door and trim
page 2 cut opening for pocket door

Go to next pages:
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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