Last month's reader poll asked, "Pocket Doors, Yay or Nay?" We are delighted to see that you had experience with pocket doors and ideas to share about this space saver. Our readers addressed the handle and lock issues of pocket doors.
The problem: Lots of pocket door hardware (handles and locks) require tight grasping and pinching or manipulation.
The image below shows a typical small recessed handle on the side of a pocket door and someone using the edge-mounted, flip-out metal loop. Neither of these does a good job if you have any issues with grasping.
A. Possible Door Handle Solutions:
"...for many years we developed assisted living facilities in Ohio. We installed pocket doors on all resident bathrooms. We had a 36” finished opening but installed a block to keep the pocket door 4” out of the wall, thereby leaving a 32” clear opening. A handled latch set was then installed vertically. This system worked very well and was easily used by the resident.``
- Mac Kennedy
Mac didn’t supply a photo but the images below show some door handle solutions. What do you think of this vertical, two-way handle?
"We did this and it works well except the 3 screws are marking up the white trim we put thin rubber discs on the screw still are marking."
- Debbie Popielarczyk
B. Door Lock Solutions
Door locks are also challenging because they need to keep a door from moving laterally. A standard lockset or deadbolt won't work. Carol Rogers has tried vertical top and bottom door bolts, like these, only much longer.
"Here are a few links to products that are similar to what we’ve used. Although they have knobs, you really just push the bolt up into the head of the door frame, (some are better for this than others) or down into the floor. You can also do both, which is what one client did. We mount them on the inside face of the door to be locked. We don’t worry about them sticking out and not sliding back into the pocket, as we use surface mounted handles, too. Stops mounted to the face of the door at the bottom will prevent the hardware from running into the jamb. A standard 36” door should leave a 32” min. clear opening. It’s based on French door hardware from old French doors."
- Carol Rogers
Carol also reminded me that for a lot of people who use wheelchairs, the act of exerting a lateral force creates an awkward opposite effect. You move a door to the left, and you and your chair want to roll to the right. The heavier the door, the more pronounced the effect. Barn doors, which are typically bigger than a pocket or hinged doors, can be particularly heavy and therefore prone to this effect.
Here are images of other ways to solve the latching challenge, with larger, graspable surfaces. I have no idea about their force requirements.
Can people find other non-stainless, more traditional residential styles?
This is a most unusual option that is simple to install and inexpensive but looks as if it might be a challenge to manipulate unless a larger gripping surface is attached.