Exterior Pocket Doors — Are Those A Possibility?

I’m still waiting to hear back from my contractor about a quote for everything we’re wanting to do right now. Of course, the main focus will be the bedrooms and new master bathroom, but I also asked him to give me a quote on enclosing the carport to create my workshop. When I met with him a week or so ago, I happened to catch him right before he left to go out of town for a few days, so it still might be a few days before he has my quotes ready. In the meantime, I’m supposed to be finding a source for the doors for the workshop.

I shared a few days ago that the plan is to leave a “breezeway” type of open-air walkway (which will still be covered by the roof of the carport) just outside the back doors of the studio. And then just past the breezeway will be the front wall of the workshop. It’ll look something like this…

The doors on the front of the workshop (i.e., the doors closer to the studio) aren’t as much of a concern for me since they’ll be underneath the existing roof of the carport. So even in the event of a Texas rainstorm where it’s raining sheets of rain, those doors will be protected.

So my focus is mostly on the doors that I want to put on the back side of the workshop (i.e., the doors facing the back yard). I do want the doors on the front and back to match, and since I can’t have regular doors swinging open into the area of the wheelchair ramp and open air breezeway at the front of the workshop, then that leaves me with some sort of barn door-type doors.

I really have my heart set on exterior pocket doors instead of regular barn doors that are attached to the outside of the building. The reason I prefer the idea of pocket doors is because I see pocket doors as being more secure than barn doors. And since this workshop will contain ALL of my tools, I’d like it to be as secure as possible.

I’ve done quite a bit of searching over the last few days to see if exterior pocket doors are even a thing. I can find one here and there, but so far the ones that I’ve found have been DIY projects by craftsmen that have a skill set that are FAR beyond my own, like this one.

It would be a dream to have that, with the one set of doors with glass, and the second set of doors with screen. Wow! But that’s way beyond something that I could build myself, and having that custom made would probably cost more than we paid for the entire carport.

So I almost gave up on my idea of having exterior pocket doors, and just settling for standard barn doors installed on the outside of the building. But then I started researching how to make barn doors weather tight, and I came across this brush seal weather stripping for barn doors…

I don’t see any reason why that can’t be used on a pocket door, right? It seems like it would work with either a barn door or a pocket door to me.

And that just leaves me with the issue of water getting underneath the door, which seems to be the biggest complaint about exterior barn doors, and I would imagine it would be a problem with exterior pocket doors as well. But I imagine that I could use something like this Weather Defender garage door threshold.

Of course, I could also build a cute little portico over the doorway to divert the rain away from the doors as well.

So have any of you ever seen exterior pocket doors that actually tuck into the walls? I’ve seen plenty of four-part doors (double doors with stationary sidelights on the side) that open like pocket doors and are actually called exterior pocket doors. But when it comes to actual pocket doors that open into pockets in the walls, I just can’t find any examples except for the one I posted above. And while I wish I were skilled enough to build something like that, I have to face reality. 🙂

I’d also love to figure out a way to have screen doors on the doorways as well. But the only way I can see that happening is if I install those on the outside just like standard barn doors.



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  1. Kristi,
    You could install an overhead door (like a garage door) and use really nice, barn style doors. There are many ways to add screening to overhead doors. Our neighbors have a system they like. Was there when the bought the house, so they don’t know much about where it came from.There are those great motorized screens that are installed on porches that might work with some kind of a door – probably not an overhead. Very interesting to think about. Maybe your contractor will have an idea!

    1. I’d like to avoid using an overhead door just because when it’s open, it’ll interfere with the lighting in the room. I want lots of light that’s evenly dispersed, and an open overhead door would block quite a bit of the ceiling.

      1. You can get a system that rolls up on itself and is mounted to the wall above the opening with no overhead blockage like in the big warehouses (manual or electric). It might be a possibility that you could get a screen system also that slides on a track but would lose some wall space with that configuration.

          1. I have these exact doors installed across the back of my Atlantic ocean facing doors and picture windows…. for storm/hurricane protection. They were installed up in the soffits of the roof eaves. Therefore no rolls are visible. They are electric and operate literally “with a push of a button”. They were connected to my full house auto start propane fed generator so they will operate even in the event of a power outage. They also in the down position provide solid security protection.

          2. There are these all glass garage door options https://www.overheaddoor.com/glass-panel-garage-doors. They might be a good option for letting light through even when up.

            I’ve been a big fan of the ones used in commercial design like you can find at restaurants and small business like the DERU Market in Kirkland, WA. (Sorry, I can’t figure out how to load the pics. You can see the doors in the Google/Yelp photos for the restaurant. PS, I’m not affiliated with that restaurant whatsoever. I’ve just patronized it once on a business trip.

      2. You could also possibly find a way to mount the lighting UNDER the door hardware so that the door slides up over the lighting. But I’d imagine you’d have to have really tall doors to make that reasonable. Then you might be getting into cost.

        The roll-up doors is an interesting idea except I’m not sure if you could get them with the barn door look. You could COVER them with sliding barn doors for aesthetics.

    2. I was thinking overhead door with pull down screen. Several people in my neighborhood have those. Some have pull down screens to close off the carport to use like a porch. They look easy to operate. And a garage type door would seem to be more secure than pocket doors to me. Good luck finding what you like.

    3. Kristi,

      What about a curtain wall of windows that fold up on themselves to the side? If you wanted more security you could b put some type of locking doors on the outside that you would only lock at night. When open they could hook to the side of the workshop.

      1. Not to be rude but you have shown OVERLAY doors EXTERIOR and INTERIOR
        Are you looking for an OVERLAY door or a true pocket door?

        1. Google doesn’t seem to know what an OVERLAY door is outside of the context of cabinet doors. But a pocket door is any door that disappears into a compartment in the wall when opened.

    4. I would suggest that door facing the back yard be garage size so you’ll be able to back your truck into it if needed. Don’t worry about them matching . Maybe just the same style/color.

  2. Can you use nice looking, quality glass sliders that meet in the middle but build in so they look like pocket doors? I’m not sure if you’re following me, but it would be water tight and give you the look your going for with a price that would (hopefully) not be astronomical.

    1. This was my thought as well, may be a bit “traditional” for you, but it would hit the mark on security and light. And I’m sure there’s some fancy ones out there that you could find, or doll them up on your own.

  3. I would think that the “slot” you need in the wall for exterior pocket doors would be the perfect breeding ground for insects. Imagine closing the doors and they’re covered with spiders! 🙂 How would that seal, since you need free space for the doors to move in and out? In plan view, where does the ramp actually start? Are you accidentally creating a tripping hazard by centering the doors? Maybe if you uncentered the doors, could it simplify everything? Just some thoughts from an outside perspective 🙂

    1. I agree with this comment…should say that Sherre is thinking the same thing I am. How would pocket doors ever “seal” since you need that space to make them slide in and out. And a good thought above too; by centering the doors are you making a tripping hazard? By moving them to the far end it might provide a smooth in and out. I like the suggestion someone made about sliding glass doors. Or you might even consider french doors. But in my head I can’t imagine sliding pocket doors being secure against bugs, rodents and rain. (even with the overhead)

    2. The ramp is right outside the back doors of the studio and goes to the left, and then turns and joins the carport. I don’t really follow how the doors create a tripping hazard.

      1. I just meant where the ramp ends. Where does the carport concrete change from flat to sloping? Looks like it could end up right in front of where your proposed workshop doors are..

      2. Wait, never mind! I saw the ramp on Instagram, I didn’t realize it only sloped in the one direction! Sorry to be confusing!

  4. Overhead garage door inside and sliding screen barn doors on the outside? Outside and inside barn doors? Can’t wait to see what you figure out!

    1. The experience I have had with pocket doors is they do not always stay on track. This is especially true if you have different ones opening them.

  5. Are you familiar with disappearing screens. They roll up on one side then pull across to close. You might try those.

  6. I also thought of glass sliders that meet in the middle. Structurally you don’t need your walls for support, so using pocket doors would work in that regard. But, I agree with the thought that those pockets might be good places for critters to make their homes. I’m sure you’ll find something, though! You always do!

  7. I’ll ask my hubby tonight about your wishes. He’s been in the glazing field for 47 yrs and at present works on all kinds of new architecture in the Seattle area. He’s a storehouse of information and ideas. Surely he’s seen something that would fit.

  8. I have seen retractable screens. Maybe those will work for you. You could do double screens (one that retracts from the left and one that retracts from right).

    1. Those retractable screen doors are nice if only adults in the house. If screens are pulled across the opening they attach magnetically to the door jamb. An excitable dog only has to bump the screen with a nose and they immediately open with a crash and the dog goes ballistic. Ask me how I know.lol.

  9. Insects and rodents would be my concern with pocket doors. That’s all I have. No idea to help you in your search for doors. 😕

  10. If what you want is a big opening for moving stuff in and out, and lots of daylight, and easy access for wheelchairs….I can think of nothing better than a wall of sliding, stacking glass doors. I’ve seen them in pool houses. Closed, they give you a wall of glass. Open, there is almost an entire wall with nothing blocking outside access. I don’t know how to pair this with screening for days when you want the doors open for extended periods, but maybe there are sliding, stacking screen doors you can use in combination with the glass doors.

  11. Take a look at roll-up garage doors. They are used extensively at self-storage units. They aren’t beautiful, but they are functional.

  12. The only real difference between barn doors and pocket doors is the fact that one rolls back and forth in front of the wall and the other rolls back and forth in a cavity inside the wall. That difference accounts for the difference in hardware – but they are essentially the same thing.

    I see no reason you could not weather proof pocket doors by adding the sort of fuzzy weather stripping that one uses around conventional exterior doors – it would also inhibit insects going into the wall – but anyone who has done any kind of renovation knows that six legged critters of a variety of types make their ways into the cavities in walls. We just remain blissfully unaware of them unless they are the destructive sort.

    You could also recess any kind of track necessary at the bottom so that it is level with the floors rather than protruding above like conventional sliders. For that matter you could mount conventional sliders the same way (slightly lower within the door frame and recessing the bottom track below floor level) – thus avoiding all kinds of fiddling around reinventing the wheel.

    1. “Fuzzy weatherstripping” being a variation of the brush seal mentioned in the video above. LOL. I should have watched that first.

  13. https://www.nanawall.com/

    These are really taking off in the commercial world. Not sure of the residential applications or the cost, though! Full confession though: I should say that I’ve recently become aware of these because a building owner called us about water coming in under their nanawall.

  14. Leading to my patio I have a 4 panel glass slider that is 12’ long and stacks on one recessed side . I don’t know how you could add screens tho; my patio is a screened room.

  15. I hope I’m not duplicating a previous response, but my mother–who lives in Tucson, AZ–has a pocket door of a sort (glass) from her house to her wraparound porch. It’s called a “disappearing wall” and she’d been living with it for the last 15 years. I’ve never heard her complain about any pests getting in or being trapped in the pocket.

    Surely if it’s possible to do it in glass, it can be done in other materials…?

  16. I think you could build pocket doors like the ones you posted. If not, what about screen pocket doors and outside barn doors? You can secure the barn doors for safety/security and have the screen pocket doors open when you choose. Best of both worlds?

  17. Not sure if this has been mentioned…haven’t read all of the comments…but have you considered folding patio doors.

  18. I’m more concerned with how your husband gets in the house. Will there be a covered path for him? How does that work now

  19. “Hurricane shutters” are used extensively in the Phoenix area for security purposes. They roll-up on the exterior and (on my honor) are virtually impossible to breach. The cylinder that contains the roll-up can be mounted within the wall or on the wall. “On the wall” type mounting could be hidden under your portico. They are commonly used to cover large expanses of glass (windows or sliders). Large doors are electrically operated.

  20. For screens, consider some rolling screens, such as Phantom Screens. They are quite popular here in California.

  21. I think you are talented enough to build those types of doors yourself. You built the doors that are in your dining room, now your music room, so I don’t see why you couldn’t build these, as well. The front ones would have tempered glass and the back ones would have screens. It looks like these are on some type of 4 track system and I’m sure the doors are connected top and bottom with some type of swivel connectors that engage when you start pushing them back. You could then add those brush seals to the outside too weather and critter proof.

    It would be a ton of work but I do think you are capable. I’m sure you’ll figure it out and whatever you do decide will turn out beautifully, as always!

  22. The only place I’ve ever seen”pocket doors” like you want are all glass. I’ve seen them in mall stores as their entrance doors. Maybe google industrial or commercial pocket doors??? As for drainage without a trip hazard, my brother in law had water entering his garage under the door. He had a french drain installed with a trench across the driveway that had a grate over it. Of course his yard sloped, and the french drain was able to empty way out into the hillside, so it won’t back up in heavy rain. Back to the doors – I like the ideas some have mentioned with the barn style doors outside and rolling screen inside. Good luck!

  23. I have seen doors in homes in Hawaii which telescope to the sides, virtually disappearing unless someone wants them closed. Sometimes they are on more than one exterior wall. I don’t know how secure they are.

  24. Why don’t you have the doors open into the workshop/studio rather than outward on the house side? The rear doors could still open outward. Would save a lot of trouble and expense.

  25. Personally our workshop is a total disaster (as it should be!) so I don’t know if you’d want to be looking right into your workshop from your pretty studio and see the mess. Also glass doors will get gunked up with sawdust and won’t be so pretty. Some things to consider!

  26. I’ve seen garage doors that look like barn doors but actually swing open like patio doors. I think these were called carriage doors. In view of the money you have tied up in tools, please put security first and esthetics second. Remember, form follows function. You can get exterior opening doors that are secure and possibly more so than regular house doors.

  27. Kristi, I’m running late & don’t have time to read all the responses, but yes. I am in the throes of working w/our contractor & architect to install Marvin sliding French doors that will slide into a pocket in the wall, instead of sliding across the stationary/false French doors on each end of a four panel kit.
    If that doesn’t make sense, maybe this link to the product (Marvin) we’ll be using will clarify things. Good luck:)

  28. My family thinks I am nuts because I have been changing most of my interior doors to pocket doors. Just be aware you will be loosing wall space. You can hang something lightweight. The heavier the item you want to hang, the bigger and sometimes longer anchors/mollies will scratch the door inside the wall space. You can mount things higher than the pocket door frame.

    1. You will also lose any electric switches and plugs on the wall space lost. I have pocket doors love them but there is a trade off.

      1. I have the roll. Up door on my shop. It is not very attractive but very effective for opening a wide space. Mine is not tiny critter proof nor insulated but definitely safe to
        Keeping unwanted humans out. They can be hosed down for cleaning sawdust and general shop dirt

  29. I read none of the other comments, sorry if it’s a repeat suggestion. I love the look of glass accordion doors! Probably way out of your budget, but I just love the way they look.

    What if you had the barn door slide on the inside of the house instead of the outside? Same idea of a pocket door, but you wouldn’t have to the create the ‘pocket’.

  30. Pocket glass patio sliding doors do exist and are all the rage right now in Southern California. They require a support header to be installed for wide opening spans you. Try searching for patio glass pocket sliding doors or multi slide patio doors. They absolutely do exist.




  31. I think a DIY deal is totally within your skill set. I can think of a few ways it could be done.

    One option would be to build a very shallow track out of lumber and buy door blanks. I imagine you could find some rollers to inset into the base of the door blanks so they travel along the track. You could use some sort of weather stripping to keep them mostly watertight. Look at how a sliding closet door operates. It’s pretty simple in design.

    Another option might be to buy inexpensive left and right-handed sliders (like you’d put on a deck) and mount them into the walls so that the stationary glass pane is hidden (just like an interior pocket door. You’d have to figure out some way to keep leaves, sawdust, and dirt from getting into the hidden portion, but that might be a job for a brush sweep. The only downside to this would be figuring out how to not have a style in the middle. You could cut the style out, but I’m not sure how the doors would meet in the middle (or lock, for that matter).

    Personally, I think I’d consider the roll-up door (mentioned above) and cover it with a barn door if you’re worried about weather tightness at the bottom. On the back, you can just use swing-out french doors with no style.

  32. Wait! Another idea. What if you got door blanks but narrower ones (say 2.5 to 3ft wide) and put FOUR of them, but mount the hinges so they fold out like bi-fold doors. Not on a slider like bifolds, but done so that the center two open inward and completely fold back completely against the outer two panels. Then, you have a lock that you can release to fold the outer two outwards flat against the side of the building. It’d still require a little clearance on the breezeway side to open them, but it could work.

  33. Why either pocket doors or barn doors? Why not folding doors for example? (vertically folding, that would be pushed to the side and be done with).

    (Here’s a random example off the internet, because I liked how they can work with any kind of shape)!

  34. My husband is a regional window & door manager for a company here in CA. He said there not a ‘“pocket door” system that will. Seal up to the weather. He said that you can buy track systems & some people will try wood doors or exterior rated doors with the track system, but the water will get under them and between where they meet. Wood will also eventually warp.

    He said he’s done Weiland Wall Systems in some houses, and they do have screens available, but they are VERY expensive.

  35. Kristi,

    What about an according style door. Pella has some great options. Kind of pricey, my mom went with these this way she could have a door but all three doors fold together on one side so she can move furniture appliances easier in and out. She has an older home so doors tend to be narrow. Plus its secure. She can lock them. I hope this makes sense. When they are closed they look like doors/large windows and then when she opens them up it’s super wide. Not sure how theh come or how all of that works. Might be an option.

  36. I can’t see why a pocket door would be impossible while you can have a double sliding patio door . They really are the same thing. I can see that there are issues that have to be addressed with the sealing of them, and isolating the pocket space as well. Sometimes it is not helpful to ask contractors. I’m going to look overseas and see what others may have done.

  37. Looking myself for exterior pocket door. Several high end systems available some even with drainage system. Very expensive. Hardware available to replicate these systems starts about $1k without the drainage option. They do sell the in floor track system for pocket or barn door style setups for indoor use which is streamlined and unobtrusive. Best low cost solution for my situation would be to buy patio sliding doors to use as pocket door by framing up and covering the fixed side. Hardly rains in SoCal but I can try thinking about a diy replication of the drainage system. Have also considered regular door opening to the outside and with the hardware that would allow for it to lie flat against the outside wall. These door hinges are inexpensive but do not look very strong not secure.