Pocket Doors vs. Barn Doors: Pros, Cons, and Costs

Posted by The Barn Door Hardware Store on May 10th 2024

Renovating your property or decorating a new place?

There are so many different decisions to make, and it can be really confusing, not to mention costly if you make the wrong choice!

If you’re looking to grab some new doors, you’ve probably come across both barn doors and pocket doors as options for your space.

While these doors might initially seem very similar, there are actually several differences that are important to understand before you make your decision.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to make sure you choose the right doors the first time round, including:

  • All about pocket doors
  • All about barn doors
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Final thoughts

Let’s dive in so you can pick the right doors for you!

Pocket Doors

Pocket doors are sliding doors that go into the wall when the door is open.

They were very popular in Victorian homes, but still have their fans to this day. Classic pocket doors are usually made of light, painted wood to match the trim of the home and/or the wall color.

However, these days there are a decent variety of pocket door types available, including glass and dark wood.

Installation Process

It’s a little tricky to install a pocket door, though it is possible to do it yourself if you have construction experience.

It’s very important to never try and install a pocket door in a wall that plumbing or electricity runs through.

To install a pocket door, you’ll need to remove the traditional door frame (if present), as well as the molding, then cut and remove the drywall from both sides of the wall.

Taking care, cut away the exposed studs, and install a new header for the pocket door, then attach the slider track.

Hang your door onto the kit following the manufacturer's instructions on the kit you purchased, and install the hardware onto the pocket door and the wall.

Following this, you’ll need to repair your drywall and repaint, and install and paint door trim. Then repeat for the other side if you’re using a double pocket door.


Pocket doors vary widely in price, depending on sourcing and materials.

However you’re looking at a cost of four hundred dollars to a grand for a complete kit from a standard hardware store.

Price for installation if you can’t do it yourself ranges from $500 dollars (new build, cheap door) to over $4000 (old house retrofitting, expensive door.)


  • Space Saving: Pocket doors tuck neatly into your wall, making them a great choice for small areas like bathrooms and laundries
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Pocket doors are great for a Victorian Aesthetic, and (with more modern looking doors), even minimalist looks.


  • Tricky Installation: Pocket doors are much more difficult to install than almost any other type of door. Because of this, paying someone to do it for you is also pretty expensive, and much more so if you’re renovating an existing door frame.
  • Trickier Maintenance: It’s virtually impossible to clean or maintain the hardware of your pocket doors, as it’s concealed in the wall. This can lead to it wearing out more quickly, leading to another expensive repair or replacement.
  • Poor Sound Insulation: Removing the stud, and any insulation, and replacing it with a door that doesn’t fully seal in leads to more sound traveling.

Barn Doors


Barn doors also slide, but they sit on the outside of the wall when they’re open.

Barn doors, based on they’re agricultural pre-cursor, were originally only associated with a more rustic look, but have recently been expanding into many different aesthetics as they gain popularity.

Barn doors roll on external hardware, and are often found in double door form, though there are many different types available.

A classic barn door is made from solid, warm wood, with wrought iron hardware and a large, decorative rolling wheel.

However, these days, there are not only many different types and colors of wood available for barn doors, but also glass (solid and paned, and well as clear and frosted or tinted), metal for an industrial look, and even fun and functional doors like chalkboard.


Installing a barn door is pretty easy, and you’ll likely be able to do it yourself if you’re a little handy (not that there’s any shame in getting help of course!).

To install a barn door, you’ll need to locate and mark your wall studs, then install the backer board and metal track. Attach the hardware to your barn door, if it doesn’t come pre attached, then hang your door. Done!


Barn doors can cost anywhere from two hundred dollars for the most basic, hardware store door, to over a grand for heavier, higher quality doors, plus everything in between.

In general, installation costs anywhere from $600 dollars to a little over a grand.


  • Space Saving: Barn doors take up less room than traditional doors, as they don’t need to swing outwards
  • Ease of installation: Barn doors easy and quick to install at home
  • Maintenance: Barn doors are very easy to maintain.


  • Take up wall space: you won’t be able to put up chunky art work or bookshelves
  • No full seal: There is a gap between the barn door and the wall, meaning sound and smell can travel more freely than with a traditional door.


The main difference between the appearance and functionality of pocket and barn doors is in the hardware placement - barn doors have their hardware on the outside of the wall, while pocket doors have it on the interior.

This gives pocket doors their more subtle, sneaky effect, and gives barn doors their rustic or industrial charm.

This also means that it is very easy to maintain the hardware on a barn door (cleaning, oils, replacing parts, etc.), but difficult to impossible to do the same on a pocket door.

Both doors can be made of a variety of materials, from traditional wood to sleek frosted glass.

In barn doors, you can also get a variation in the type of hardware and roller wheel.

Neither are as secure or as sound proof as traditional doors, but there are various measures (insulation, soft closes, latches and bars etc.) that you can take to bring them pretty close.

They’re comparable in price, with a wide range of doors available in either type.

However, if you need to get the door installed in an existing home, pocket doors are much more expensive, and still slightly more expensive to get put into a new build.

You can put a barn door anywhere there are studs on a drywall wall, or anywhere you like into brick or concrete, as long as you have the wall space.

For concrete walls, you don’t even need a backing board if you don’t want it, and can instead install the hardware directly into the wall.

Pocket doors need at least three feet (on average) of empty wall space to go into, and cannot be placed into load bearing walls.

This means that their utility in rooms like bathrooms and laundries (where they’re often recommended) is greatly reduced due to electricity or plumbing running through the wall.

Both of these door types are generally recommended for small spaces. As well as bathrooms and laundries, as mentioned above, they’re excellent as closet doors, pantry doors, and conceal other storage spaces.

Additionally, they’re often installed to cordon off open plan spaces, such as between kitchens and dining rooms, so you can choose when you would like separation.

Glass doors especially are excellent for when you’d like to maintain the light flow in a space, but have reduced noise - such as for a playroom, bedroom, or office.

Both of these sliding doors are also handy in bathrooms, either dividing between a toilet and a sink or shower area, or as the primary bathroom door, to prevent build up of moisture.

However, the relative lack of sound and smell insulation that these doors provide in comparison to traditional doors should be a consideration, especially if your bathroom is attached to a primary living area.

Comparison of the Main Feature of Pocket and Barn Doors

ParametersPocket Doors Barn Door
Base Price $400 -$1000+$200 - $1000+
MaintenanceVery Difficult/Impossible Very Easy
Aesthetic Victorian/Variable Rustic/Variable
Installation Very Difficult Very Easy
Sound Muffling Poor to Okay Better but still not the best
Placement Limited, need an empty wallCan be hung over walls with plumbing or electric


Overall, pocket doors and barn doors are comparable in the price of the base door.

However, the restriction in placement, worsened sound travel, impossible maintenance, and very difficult or expensive installation make pocket doors lose this showdown.

Barn doors are more versatile, easier to install and maintain, and give better sound insulation, making them the winner this time!

They also have a more modern aesthetic, as they’re trendier than pocket doors. Unless you’re dead set on a concealed door, or need the wall space, a barn door is likely your best bet!