Living Room - Part 4 - The Pocket Door

Ahh, the pocket door.  I first wrote about it here and wondered if I should strip it and have the wood show instead of paint.  Silly, silly me. I have been stripping for over a month.

Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Here is what we had, a 4 foot wide opening, with a STUCK pocket door.  The wheels on the right side had come off the rail.

We knew we had to get into the wall, to get the door, literally "back on track."  So before we painted, we tried to find the wheels and rail.

Under the flowered wallpaper was a sheet of panelling and under that an old wallpaper with trees on it.

Under that wallpaper was lathe and plaster.  Eric decided to try opening up a spot where he thought the wheels would be.

Finally breaking through at the right spot.

The right side wheels were off the track completely!

Here is a close up that shows it better:

As you can see, the rail is behind the set of wheels (there are two sets, one is at the left end of the door, and this one is at the right end of the door).

Eric pried upwards while I pushed on the door at the bottom, to get the wheels up and back on the rail.

Once that was done, we were okay to put back the wall.  We bought two new pieces of panelling which were very much like the old one except that they didn't have the slightly rough texture of the older wall board.  We hoped no one would notice that in the corner, the wall was a bit smoother.

After attaching the new boards, we primed and painted as we did the rest of the room.

The trim, room and ceiling were finished except for an upper piece of moulding that we are having trouble matching, but I'll get to doing that sometime soon.

So now just to refinish the door. Or so I thought.

I pushed the door back partway into it's pocket opening and guess what?

Yes, it was stuck.

And no, I did not want to open up the wall that we had just fixed and painted.

Oh dear!

So, we opened the other side, which is the dining room.  This was not going to be easy because, as you can probably see in the close up of the wheels and track, the track was attached to a beam on the living room side.  To get to the wheels would mean trying to reach around and under or over the large wood beam that held the track.

So, Eric opened the dining room side.

As it turned out, the front wheel was broken apart, so we needed to take it out of there and find a new wheel to replace it.  We told a neighbour about our dilemma and he came over and got the wheel and the bracket it was on, off of the door.  We had no idea how to find a similar wheel to fit, so we left that for awhile while I proceeded to strip the door.

There appeared to be two coats of an off-white or cream colour paint on the door.  This was very difficult to strip, my scraper seemed to just run over the top of the paint without removing much.

I got to a dark wood which appeared to be the original wood, but it was not easy to get to.

Unfortunately this was a faux wood.  This photo below, which shows what was under the handle, shows the faux wood.  It actually was a coat of a gold colour paint with some type of glaze on top mimicking woodgrain.

So I had to keep going.  And that gold paint and glaze was very difficult to get off.  At this point I had been stripping the damn lovely door for three weeks.

As I proceeded (reluctantly, wishing at times I had just painted it white), I found some actual wood underneath.  The panels are a different wood than the stiles and rails and most likely the reason for putting the faux wood coating on the door, many, many (100?) years ago.

There also appeared to be a light blue paint at some point, but only on the dining room side.

Here is the living room side.  The panels were very difficult to strip, it seemed like I had to keep doing another coat.  Also the panels were not very smooth, with marks most likely from the saws that originally cut the pieces, and the paint was in those marks. (It's crooked because the wheels on the right side are not on the door nor on the rail)

I just kept going and going, having difficulty with all the layers and all the paint that sat in the edges next to the panels and trim around the panels.  As I complained, my husband said it was good enough and to remember it was an old door!

This is how the living room side looks, I still need to put more stripper on it.

In fact I gave up on the dining room side and I lightly sanded it.  The wood was much more blotchy than I would have liked but I was defeated.  I began to clear coat the dining room side with a rub-on polyurethane in clear satin and while doing so I could still see spots where there was paint.  

I have more coats to put on the door, but that is how it looks for now from the dining room side.  Alas, the living room side is still not finished.

The good news is that we found a pulley with a wheel that Eric could use to replace the broken wheel.  He got it back on and it works fine!

You can see here there is another whole panel section on the door, hidden between the walls.  I finished 6 panels, three on top of three, but this part you see peeking through the wall was never painted and most likely original to the house.

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