Small space? Pocket doors may work for you

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Q. I’m considering installing pocket doors—what are the pros and cons? How much should I plan on spending? Do they work in any type of wall?

A. Pocket doors are a relatively inexpensive way to enlarge a room, especially in bathrooms and bedrooms, since you reclaim space previously allotted to a swinging door.

Assuming there are no complications (see below), you can expect to spend in the neighborhood of $2,500 to $3,500 including parts, labor and a consultation on the plans. If adding the door is part of a larger renovation or you’re using a pre-fab pocket door, you could spend as little as $1,600.

Check what’s in your walls

The critical first step is understanding what’s in the wall where you’ll be fitting the pocket that will hold the door. The wall cannot have any existing obstructions, such as wires or gas lines.

You may be able to see what’s behind it if you can get the apartment’s original architectural drawings or plans, either from the previous owner, the co-op or condo board, or in your closing documents. Also, be sure to check with your building super–he’ll likely know where the electrical and gas lines are.

If you can’t get your hands on the drawings, then you have no option besides opening the wall, which may cost an additional $1,000 unless it’s part of a larger project, in which case it’ll cost less.

Depending on what you find in the wall, obstacles may be moved to accommodate a pocket door. But if you need to move, say, a gas line, you could be looking another $5,000 to $6,000 minimum for permits, the plumber, closing the wall, and so on.

Read the full post in our Brick Underground column: ‘NYC Renovation Questions’ – where you get the unvarnished answers to your renovation conundrums.