Stephanie Lee of P C Henderson takes a look at how increasingly space-constrained builds are driving the trend in pocket doors, and discusses their key benefits and what to look for when specifying such systems
As the number of first time buyers hits the highest levels in over a decade – combined with a major decrease in the size of the average new build home – it’s no wonder specifiers are looking for inventive and innovative ways to save space in the home. A recent report by LABC Warranty shows that living rooms of new builds in Britain are 32 per cent smaller than they were in the 1970s. To coincide with this, a report from UK Finance shows that the number of first time buyers is at its highest point in over a decade – a total of over 365,000 individuals bought their first home in 2017, the highest it’s been since 2006. These recent statistics help to explain the ever-growing trend in pocket door systems as buyers look to find ways to save space in the home.
A traditional swing door can use up to 10 or more feet of valuable floor space. A pocket door system can free up this space by allowing doors to glide along a track and disappear into a cavity wall, out of the way. Single pocket doors used in smaller rooms hold the most space saving benefits. Spaces such as ensuites, bathrooms, storage areas, walk-in wardrobes, utility rooms and pantries – can all reap benefits from a sliding pocket door. Swing doors can often be inconvenient in spaces such as this, causing difficulties when attempting to open a door inwards. Swing doors can also be inconvenient in areas where they open onto a narrow corridor or hallway, often causing an obstruction. Pocket doors can solve this by sliding away into the cavity – leaving the corridor completely clear.
Double pocket doors are also a great way to add a little grandeur and ‘wow factor’ to a room, or to help divide off rooms in an open plan design when used between a kitchen and living room. Previously, pocket doors were often used in this way – remaining open during the day and for the serving of meals, then being closed for privacy on an evening for dinner parties. Ease of access is another notable benefit of pocket doors – an individual living with mobility issues may find a swing door difficult to manoeuvre through, particularly when using a wheelchair. Pocket doors create a completely clear opening allowing for easy movement from room to room.
Pocket doors are a great way to add some architectural charm to a room, particularly when combined with the correct type of door. Hardware can be combined with wooden or glass panelled doors enabling specifiers to create a traditional or contemporary appearance, depending on the decor.
Choosing the right hardware
There are a number of factors which must be taken into consideration when specifying a pocket door. It’s important to choose a kit which effectively accommodates the weight, height and width of a door. It’s also important to understand how the kit works within the cavity – are the uprights made of wood or aluminium? This is a question of particular importance in areas of heavy use. It should also be considered whether any extra features are required to add to the refinement of the product. A ‘soft close’ system can be purchased as an accessory in order to gently decelerate the door into an open or closed position – this minimises slamming which can add to the lifespan of the product. For the upmost in sophistication, some manufacturers have released automated pocket door kits, which can be activated by the push of a button, remote or even motion detector. In certain applications a fire rated system may be necessary, another option to consider.
Alongside practical factors such as door weight, size, and the availability of accessories – it’s also important to choose a reliable and experienced manufacturer. When it comes to door hardware, quality is of the upmost importance – if you think about how many times a door can be open and closed in its lifetime, it’s important to choose a system which is robust enough to cope with this. A good piece of hardware should outlive the lifespan of its owner.
Stephanie Lee, is the marketing manager at P C Henderson