Q: We are planning to create an apartment in our home for my elderly mother. She will need her area to be warmer than ours. What do you think about installing pocket doors instead of standard swinging doors?
A: Creating an apartment in one's house for elderly parents is becoming more popular again as it used to be generations ago. People are living longer, but are neither healthy enough to be totally independent nor weak enough to be in nursing homes.
The elderly generally do feel more comfortable at a warmer room temperature than younger people. Warmer temperatures also result in higher heating bills (and lower cooling bills), so it is wise on your part to attempt to thermally isolate her apartment.
This is called efficient "zone heating," where different parts of your house are kept at different temperatures.
Installing pocket doors is also a good idea. Since you are making an apartment in your existing home, floor space will be at a premium. This makes pocket doors ideal because they do not require all the clearance space of a swinging door. Pocket doors, since they slide into the wall cavity, can be easily sealed to make the zone heating more feasible.
Another advantage of pocket doors is the ease of operation for your mother.
When opening a swinging door which swings in toward you, you must grab the knob and step backward. This may cause someone who is not steady on her feet to lose her balance. A pocket door is just slid to the side into the wall cavity and is totally out of the way.
You will also find it is easier to decorate a house with pocket doors. By eliminating the clearance area around the door opening and on the walls, you have more decorating flexibility. Many of the pocket doors have attractive decorative or privacy glass to allow for better natural lighting.
It is not difficult to install a pocket door kit in place of an existing swinging door. Most do-it-yourselfers with a reciprocating saw and some other hand tools should be able to handle this project. Before attempting this, make sure there are no electric lines or plumbing inside the walls.
There are several designs of pocket door installation kits from which to choose depending upon the weight and thickness of the door. Some lightweight kits are designed for doors under 100 pounds and other kits can handle doors up to 250 pounds. Make sure to include the weight of any decorative glass and privacy locks when determining the overall weight.
The pocket door kit will include split wall studs to replace the existing wall studs around the door opening. These create the pocket inside the wall.
Also included will be the guides, mounting plates and hardware, ball-bearing rollers, and top supporting rail.
The following companies offer pocket door hardware kits: Arthur Cox, toll-free 1-800-456-5656, www.acox.com; John Sterling, toll-free 1-800-367-5726, www.johnsterling.com; L.E. Johnson, toll-free 1-800-837-5664, www.johnsonhardware.com; Ledco, toll-free 1-800-626-6367, www.ledcodoors.com; and National Manufacturing, (815) 625-1320, www.natman.com.
Taking a saw to the bathroom door
Q: I have added an insulating pad under my carpet to save energy and now I have to cut 1 inch off the bottom of my wooden bathroom door. What is the best way to saw it so the bottom edge doesn't splinter?
A: If your house has inexpensive hollow wood doors, the bottom will splinter and leave a rough edge. Plan to cut enough off to leave at least a 1/2-inch gap for adequate air inlet area when the bath vent fan is running.
Using a sharp utility knife and straight edge, score a deep groove along the cut line. This will keep the thin veneer edge from getting rough. Carefully saw along the bottom edge of the groove and sand the edge.
Send inquiries to James Dulley, St. Petersburg Times, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.