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5 Things You Must Know About Sliding Doors!

Do you like watching home remodeling shows? If so, you can’t escape the ubiquity of sliding doors, like barn doors and pocket doors. They’re everywhere! Especially for bathrooms!

Shiplap barn door by

Shiplap barn door by

Fixer Upper. Rehab Addict. I see what you’re doing!

The main idea of sliding doors is they’re useful for conserving space compared to traditional swinging doors. It makes sense to save space, especially if you’re using a wheelchair or a walker to move around the home. Plus, if you’ve got some spare shiplap, you just made yourself a barn door for little cost.

But, let’s hold our horses before jumping on the “Sliding Door Wagon”! Although sliding doors save precious space in our homes, here’s five things to consider before installing sliding doors!

1) Door handle.

Pocket and barn have this myth of accessibility. For some strange reason, people seem to think they’re super easy to open for everybody.

Flush pull handle on pocket door by

Flush pull handle on pocket door by

Not true at all. I’ve worked with countless clients to bear witness to their attempts gripping the door handle. To be honest, I’ve never seen a pocket door handle I’ve truly liked. Most of the time, the handles are flush pulls which make it nearly impossible for people with arthritis to grip and pull open a door sideways. Not to mention if someone has balance issues on top of arthritis, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Struggling to open the bathroom door? For Pete’s sake! What kind of life is this?

D-shaped handle by Home Depot

D-shaped handle by Home Depot

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know I love C and D-shaped handles. I’ve seen people install these types of handles on barn doors, which certainly improves your hand grip. Unfortunately, another problem arises for pocket and barn doors with C and D-shaped handles: the door won’t close all the way. People’s hands end up getting squished in between the door frame and the handle when they’re closing the door inside the bathroom. Ouch!

In fact, I’ve seen most people just leave the sliding door open to get rid of one obstacle to going to the bathroom. Privacy be damned!

Is that what you want? To have to sacrifice your privacy? Or always struggle to open and close the door to the bathroom?

Choose wisely.

2) Track Durability

Pocket door by The Spruce

Pocket door by The Spruce

Oh, the track for sliding doors. Surprise, surprise! The doors DO eventually come off of the track for a myriad of reasons. The most common reason why doors come off of the track is people pulling the door towards them while opening and closing. The durability is not so good. First, let’s look the pocket door.

Half of the pocket door’s track is exposed at the top of the door frame and the other half is inside of the wall. If the pocket door comes off track, you can easily see and fix the outside, but good luck with the inside of the track! You almost always need to hire somebody to come to your home and fix the door. Hopefully, the door doesn’t get stuck on the track while you’re inside of the bathroom!

If you’ve been stuck in the bathroom because of the door, please share your experience in the comment section below!

When barn doors come off track, that can be a bit scary too! Barn door tracks are located above the door frame, so they’re easier to fix. But if they do come off track, you have to lean a really big door against the wall while waiting for someone to put it back in place. Imagine watching your Grandma trying to move a huge door to the wall next to the bathroom. Do you think that’s going to be easy for her? Talk about a back buster!

3) Cost

Earlier, I mentioned that barn doors can be on the inexpensive side ranging $100-$300. They cost the same as installing a swinging door no matter if it’s new construction or a remodel. But keep in mind that if the door comes off of the track, you may have to pay for repair.

Compare that to how often you repair your swinging door. I’m guessing your swinging door never comes off of its hinges!

Now, pocket doors can become really pricey because they go inside the wall when open. That means the wall cannot have any electrical components, duct work, or plumbing going through it at the same time. If you’re building new, the cost of a pocket door is much less than installing one in an existing wall. estimates installing a pocket door to be $100-$500 for new construction and $1,000-$2,500 in a remodel.


4) Maintenance

Barn doors and pocket doors MUST HAVE maintenance done on the track. Just like with everything else, dust and debris gets everywhere! You need the tracks to be well lubricated and free from crap blocking the wheels.

That is unless you want to struggle opening and closing the sliding door.

5) Acoustics

Last, but not least, my favorite topic: bathroom acoustics. We Americans love bathroom privacy and hate the idea that someone else can hear our bodily functions. Bathrooms are almost 100% hard surfaces: tile floor, acrylic shower walls, porcelain vanity, etc. The list goes on. There’s not much softening the sound of a bowel movement after eating some bean burritos.

So guess what kind of door does not allow you to seal those sounds inside of the bathroom? That’s right, sliding doors.

Pocket and barn doors, especially barn doors, are the nemesis to those who want total bathroom sound privacy. All of those sounds escape to other parts of the house. Heaven forbid you have a guest who uses your bathroom and feels the exact same way!

Now, if you don’t care about others hearing you in your most vulnerable state, than this is a non issue. Good for you for not caring if others can hear your bowels! I wish I could be you, but I’m not. I need for the bathroom door to be sealed. I need my privacy!

Photo of man covering the bottom half of his face with embarrassment by Pexels.

Photo of man covering the bottom half of his face with embarrassment by Pexels.

After thinking about those five points, what’re you going to do? Maybe you want a barn door on the pantry, but not on the bathroom. Or maybe you’re thinking about skipping sliding doors altogether! They’re not exactly the greatest for a forever home. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Remember, do it before you need it!