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The History of Pocket Doors

Pocket doors have seen a mass resurgence in popularity over the last decade, a pocket door is a door which slides into the wall cavity to hide the door and is often used with a flush cassette system and a flush door to give the impression of a hidden door on a plain coloured wall.

Pocket doors initially became popular in both the UK & USA in Victorian times, people looking for more space drove the system to popularity as early as the 1850s. They were typically installed as a lavish entry to libraries, dining rooms or sitting rooms. Instead of the metal systems, we have today, typically pocket doors were installed by an on site joiner trained in carpentry to get the precise measurements using mainly timber.

The original models relied on a floor runner but this was found to be both noisy and easy to break due to wear and tear and also when the surrounding floorboards bowed, this stopped the pocket system from running.

In the 1880s pocket doors undertook a transformation to being more top hung, with fewer problems occurring and driving the popularity of the system back up where it belonged.

There’s very little information available on whom originally invented pocket doors but in the 1880’s inventor Edwin Prescott invented the “sliding door hangers” which helped smooth the operation of the pocket systems, Edwin is also notable as the manufacturer the first loop the loop rollercoaster.

In the 1950s the pocket door found it’s first revival in the era of post-war housing developments with the need for space-saving within new homes.

We now host a wide variety of pocket doors but which one is right for you? Let's have a look at the different types and delve a little further.

Single Pocket Doors with Jambs

The original pocket door which has been extremely popular for us since launching our collaboration with Ermetika, in our opinion (and having looked at competitor systems) the best pocket door manufacturer from Italy.

These systems work with single doors and double doors allowing the door to recess into the wall on either the left or right for the single and both left and right for the double but there is also a telescopic pocket door system that allows two doors to slide left or right in to one pocket cavity, all depending on the space you have to work with and your own preferences.

Generally, for single pocket doors, you’ll need just over double the width of the door in space to fit the system (as the door will either be in the closed position or fully recessed into the pocket) for example a 1981mm height x 610mm wide door would require a space of 1290mm (halved is 645mm)

These doors come with your choice of timber jambs in either 100mm or 125mm breadth, dependant on the thickness of your wall.

Single Pocket Doors – Frameless

These are often referred to as “Star Trek” doors as much like the popular TV show & films, there’s no architrave or facings required on the wall and you plaster right up to the edge of the system so the door looks like it’s part of the wall itself for a smooth, sleek look.

Size-wise, it’s almost the same as the standard single pocket in that you’ll need just over double the width of the door to fit your cassette and allow it to recess into the wall.

Double Pocket Doors with Jambs

Similar in every way to the single pocket door with jambs except it’s for a pair of French doors for the want of a better phrase, meaning that you’ll need an overall width which is 4 times the size of the single door or double the size of the double doors...……. are you still with me?, for example for doors at 1981mm height x 610mm width, you’ll need an overall gap of 2463mm in width for a double pocket door system.

Double Pocket Doors – Frameless

Double frameless pocket doors are a great way to open up any room, with no architraves, the clean lines give you a simple but beautiful statement piece to separate any 2 rooms in the home.

Telescopic Pocket Doors

Here’s where things get interesting! Telescopic pocket doors come in 2 varieties, either dual or quad. The dual system has one door on top of the other (more back to back but I'm sure you're following this) with both doors sliding to either the left or right of the system. When the doors are fully closed, the 2 doors will sit one behind the other like the images below.

For sizing, you basically need the width of 3 doors overall as when closed you have double doors, then when the space is opened up the two doors sit on behind one another about the width of a single door. For example for a 1981mm height x 610mm single door in this system, you’d need an overall width for the cassette of 1865mm (610mm x 3 = 1830mm)

Telescopic Quad pocket doors are made using 4 doors, with 2 doors sliding back to each side, left and right.

This means overall you need enough space for the 4 doors to sit closed in the opening, then for a single door width to recede back into the pocket system on each side, for example with a 1981mm height x 610mm single door, you’d require 4 of these for the system, then space enough for the two doors to slide back into the wall, leaving an overall width of 3620mm to install the cassette.

With the Telescopic pocket systems, there’s no choice for overall wall thickness as it’s set at 180mm due to the 2 doors needing to sit behind each other within the wall cavity.

Unico Pocket Doors

The Unico pocket door system is a beauty of engineering where you want two pocket doors side by side for 2 different rooms or just two different entrances to one room - imagine a restaurant using this for "in" or "out" but using very little space.

The doors will close and open in opposite directions to the central pocket cassette and when fully open, the doors will sit behind each other within the central pocket cassette.

With these pocket systems, you’ll require an overall wall thickness of 150mm.

Full Pane Glass Pocket Doors

So as you may have seen from our blog a few weeks ago, this is a brand new addition to our range. These pocket doors come with a full pane of glass in our own designs made up by one of our talented graphic designers. 

These fit within our standard pocket door system which can be delivered in a few days to be pre-installed whilst you wait for your glass door to be made up! 

Our pocket systems come with many different suitable accessories to make it your own. The first and most popular accessory to add on is a Soft Closing Kit, when pulling the door open or closed this small but helpful accessory will slow down the system to ensure there are no slams and ensures the pocket doors smooth running for years to come.

The other alternative to this is the Self Closing Unit, when you open the door this little beauty will slowly close the door after you.

The simultaneous opening kit is used on double pocket doors so when you pull back one door, the other will open at the same time at the same rate of speed.

Along with these items we also offer 2 different types of bathroom lock, specially made for pocket doors. These are available in either circular or oval designs in a stylish Satin Chrome - but alas not for the full pane glass doors.

Hopefully, we’ve answered all of your questions on the great mystery of the pocket system, any questions please feel free to e-mail us at give us a call on 01968 671 681 or pop us a message on Instagram @directdoors