The Master Bath Pocket Door Adventure. Part I.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ya know, heh, I think...I think a long time back, oh um two and a half years if that's long, when we first bought the house, moved in...the thing that catapulted this whole ginormous whoo-ha dealio of flipping this flip to life was the master bathroom door.

Well, that and a certain flipper's horrifying decorating "skills."

One day I casually said to Mike, "hey, ya know what we should do, yeah, and it would make life so much better in this weird room, is yeah put in a pocket door!"

You shoulda seen the look on his face.  It was part hey that makes perfect sense, part panic hey does that mean I have to help, part hey whoa dude what the hell you're off your rocker.  He sputtered an "Um.  Oh.  Yeah.  Sure.  Babe," then closed the bathroom door on me.

It has plagued me since, this door.  Especially after installing the new vanity.  While the vanity gave us an inch or two more space to maneuver, it's hardly enough.  Mike wants to reconfigure the whole darn bath and came up with a way smarter layout.  But will we get to it?

The toilet has to move over by where the shower currently is, the jet tub booted, the shower moves to along the ....

Wait, ok here, here's his idea:
bathroom floor plan drawing
Ya know, something a lil' along these lines.  Re.con.fig.ured!  And so much better!  Look at all the space in there!
So it's a lot that has to happen.  That's how piss-poor of a layout we have now (see how it currently is here).

I'm not sure how much we could do ourselves.  Or myself, cough.  Plumbing and electric for sure not.  And this much redoing might require a pricey permit.  Hm.

bathroom before
Before.  Bedroom side.

The pocket door.

I thought I could at least get the pocket door in all by my little lonesome.  Ken, Mike's boss, who so kindly extended his reciprocating saw loan to me for this project said to Mike the other day, "man, she can do anything."

bathroom and view of door before
Before.  Bathroom side. Swinging door hits shower doors.  Grrr.  Start photo theme now.
I dunno about that but the pressure is super ridiculously on now, right?  Wow.  Omg.

"Oh, it only takes half a day."  "Oh, half a day is all you'll need for this project."  "Oh, half a day..." says everything pocket door tutorial.

Right.  If you know what you're doing.  If you're really good.  If you have a helper.  If this is within your league.  And you know what you're doing.

I'm on day three.

What they don't tell you is prepping the opening is the hardest, most time consuming part.  So fyi, preparing the opening is the hardest and most time consuming part.  So far.  They must exclude that in the "half day" thing.

I bought the kit from Menards.  Of course.  The Marwin Pocket Door Kit.  It was missing a piece so they gave me ten bucks off.  Every little bit helps.

Finn walking by pocket door frame
Pocket doo....oh wait...
pocket door kit frame
Pocket door kit and dog butt.
Thankfully they had a display up showing the pocket door installed so I took a few photos, examined it a bit, bought the kit, went on my merry way.

Merry not so much anymore.

Math.  My nemesis.  It's gonna kill me.

Measure twice, cut once.  This is not something you can screw the pooch on, be all willy nilly with.  No, the math has to be Spot.On.  The kit has to be plumb and level.  Fit within.....  OooOOooh, my head.

But first, I try to understand the woefully bad directions, then measure measure measure.  Measure some more.  Follow directions on rough opening, 4'-10" x 84" "off the subfloor" for a 28" door.  Mmk, doesn't seem complicated.

It took forever to get the darn baseboard off.  It was wedged between the floor and the drywall.  For darn freakin' ever to get out.  I almost packed it in then.

pulling away baseboard trim
So they nailed it in near the top and near the bottom.  Then installed the flooring.  Think about it.
All right with that finally off, in one useable piece!, measure measure measure.  Zip zip with the 3" circular saw* because it cuts drywall very cleanly.  And quickly too.  I'm trying to keep costs down, hoping I can reuse the drywall.

Well.  Mmk.  There's that outlet.  The outlet.  Ok.  Not wired the way I speculated.  What do I do.  Pace and wrack my brain for a day and a half, that's what.

what was behind the drywall
Ok.  Scary time starts now.
I decided to peek behind the drywall which was smart as I spied a connection point so whew, ok, I felt a wee better.  Nevertheless, I needed to come up with a plan on how to move it.  Hmph.

Open up yet ugh more wall and finally conclude it might not be hard to move after all.

removing more drywall for pocket door
More drywall removed.  Wall cavity as construction garbage bin apparently.  Wonder what else is in our walls.  No wait.  No I don't.
However, need an outlet moving plan.

(Do not try this on your own, fyi.  Any of this actually.  Always always always consult and/or hire an actual professional licensed person/people to do important big scary things.  Like I wish to do right now.  Do not try this.  Please.)

Finn hard at work resting on bed
Must be good to be a Finn.  Yes, he was working hard at his task while I was.
Ok but the header scenario because the studs, cutting, moving, have to figure out header before saw hits anything which is killing me....

opening based on instructions
The opening based on the directions.  Can't reach the header this way.  84" off the subfloor, meaning excluding the soleplate.  Right, so do I leave the soleplate or omg remove it?  Can I?  Will the door hang correctly or be too high if I leave it?!  The 2x soleplate is ~3/4" proud of the installed hardwood floor.  What do I do?!?!  Oh my head.
Yet more drywall had to come off, sigh ugh oy omg, so that I could get above the existing header so that makes 84" a lie every which way you think about it.  Liars.

bathroom door header before
Ah ha.  Header.  Can't make existing math work with new math either.  Besides, header needs to run the length of the top of the kit anyway.
checking level of door header
Guess what.  I know, you'll be sooooo shocked...Dumba** flipper's header isn't level.  I suppose it doesn't matter too much but c'mon, if you can't do things right, don't do them.
But see, what I haven't mentioned yet either is because our shower is on the other side of this wall...I'm not taking that all out.  So the shower side has to stay.  Which means I have to somehow slice the 2x's off the drywall.

Yes.  I said that.

Which is again drywall by the way, the shower.  Not green board, not cement board, drywall.  Half inch drywall.  Just like the first floor bathroom.  This is the shower we use daily.  Greeeaaaaat.

And I don't know where the screws are or how many there are.  Trapped, sandwiched between tile and drywall.  They went a little haywire and random on the bedroom side with screws so, uh, bite nails?  Can I even do this?!  That's a rhetorical skills question.

finding drywall screws using a magnet
Here's a tip:  if you have wood frame construction, use a strong magnet to find the drywall screws for removal.  You may not catch them all but you'll catch most.  It does take some time and patience.  Yes, that's a shrimp.
At this point I want to put all the drywall back on, return the door, wimp out, and hide under the blankies.  What.On.Earth.Am.I.Doing, is the constant refrain throbbing in my head.

So I assembled the door kit.  Hands go, brains follow.

Which felt like it took a half day in itself as the little metal C channels did not want to slide into the slots.  At one point I thought they were kidding that they were supposed to.  Eventually I got it and damn if I didn't tiptoe away, tiptoe back, screw that puppy together immediately so it would stay.

fixing pocket door frame kit
It doesn't seem like this would be hard but it was.  There's a piece at the back of the frame that had to align too causing this to keep popping out, if I could even get one part of one side in.
I'm not sure how long I've stared at this gaping wall, trying to figure things out.  Probably longer than any actual work that's been completed.

Once the kit was assembled and I admitted the math and processes were breaking my brain, I opted to draw it all up in AutoCAD.*  All the existing, the door kit, everything.  And that helped tremendously.  But then not enough.

drawing the pocket door in AutoCAD
AutoCad.  And thanks Microsoft for the horrible stealth update jacking up my new laptop.  #macforlife.  Figure out the furry theme?  Seriously, he is always at hand, on the ready.  Heh.  Goofy guy.
I've propped the assembled door kit against the wall oh maybe seven, eight, ten, fifteen times now.  Helped but not enough yet.

inserting pocket door frame into opening
Can I...can I just shove this in, right into the wall please?  Just push, ooophff, be done?  Ya know, skooch?  Please?
I went back to Menards to look at their install for guidance.  Yeah, it was a total hack job for display purposes only.  Not helpful.

pocket door frame door display
Here's one photo I took of the store set up.  Turns out, way not helpful.
Dope-ily and googlie-eyed I eventually sat on the bed, stared, and typed up a whole long list of (nearly) every single thing that has to happen.  Then I tried to organize the list in the exact order each step has to occur hoping this would ease the stress and allow me to see things clearly.  That helped but not enough.

pocket door installation task list
List.  v5.0, no joke.  It probably reads vague and weird and might still be out of order but it makes sense to me.
Clearly I was not meant to be a carpenter, nor a contractor.  Sniffle.

So you may be chuckling at me, thinking boy it's not that hard Becky, but there's a heap o' stuff going on in this wall, and a heap o' stuff to figure out.

Mike came home end of day two and said, "quite a contraption you've got going on."

I sighed.  Loudly.

"Bit off more than you can chew?"

"Sure feels that way."

Nonchalantly, "you'll get it".

Right.  Oh.  Ok.  Sure thing.  His faith in me is my only buoy at the moment.

I vowed last year, and this year, to step it up, dive in, go big.  Man.

Well.  Here I am!

At the point where I want to curl up in a little ball, rock back and forth and cry a lot.  Usually if I reach this point, a breakthrough happens and all the pieces fall right into place.

Still waiting.

End of day two I could not fall asleep with that door literally looming over me.  Nothin' like having a difficult project staring you down as you're trying to sleep....

Waking up to day three I had a minor epiphany on a way to get existing things out easier, hopefully, and I'm (probably delusionally) feeling a wee tiny bit (maybe?) better but regardless, the saw battery is outta juice so I'm in a holding pattern until the charger arrives.

falling down and picking myself up gif
Very apropos.
I found four head's-up pennies in the park soooooooooo...fingers crossed.  Either way, be the taco.

Stay tuned.  (Click here to read part two!)

*The 3" circular saw link is an Amazon affiliate link.  The AutoCAD link is an AutoDesk affiliate link.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


  1. OMG, pocket doors!!! I grew up with them in old Victorian houses. How awesome they are! Keep your eye on the end, you'll get it. Christie at addictedtodecorating did pocket doors too. Hers is different but it might spark some ideas for you.
    Keep your eyes on the prize. You can do it!

    1. Pocket doors, I'm in total agreement -- they're awesome. They should be the norm, not swinging doors!

      Yes, thanks, her tutorial on their pocket door was actually the first one I read since they used the same kit. It was very helpful, it made me realize I didn't have to remove both sides of the wall, and was the impetus to buy the kit finally.

      And omg. Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. I'm sending you a virtual hug for being my cheerleading section -- after I read your comment, "keep your eye on the prize" is now on repeat in my head!

  2. Ha. Math. I feel your pain.

    I would have just built another wall. Ya' know, like a fake wall on top of the other wall and sandwiched the pocket door between the two.

    Probably wouldn't have taken three days and would have been a lot easier.

    1. Sorry you feel it too! Oh believe me, I thought about building another wall!


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