Hardware Basics: Pocket Door Locks 101

Hardware Basics: Pocket Door Locks 101

Pocket doors are a great solution for tight spaces, such as bathrooms or pantries, where a hinged door would be in the way. They’re also a convenient option for home offices and dens. You can easily close off the room while working or studying, and slide the doors open when the room is not in use.

And while you’ll probably never see the hardware that makes a pocket door work, you will see (and use) the lock on a pocket door almost every day. So how do you know which lock to choose?

Pocket doors locks are generally available in two functions: passage (non-locking) or privacy (locking). Passage pocket door locks function as a pull, allowing you to slide the door in or out of the pocket. They’re ideal for closets, pantries and laundry rooms. The locking mechanism on privacy pocket door locks makes them ideal for bathrooms and bedrooms. Privacy pocket door locks also feature an emergency release button on the exterior side so you can easily rescue a child who’s accidentally locked themselves in the bathroom.

Round and square pocket door locks are the two most common types of pocket door locks. (Fancier, mortise-style pocket locks do exist, but they are often more expensive and more complicated to install.) Both styles come in a variety of finishes, so it’s easy to match your pocket door locks with the rest of your hardware.

Square pocket door locks require cutting a notch in the edge of your door, which means you should start with a basic door slab for easy installation. Most square pocket door locks feature a simple lever that flips out from the door edge and acts as a finger pull to slide the door out of the pocket.

Round pocket door locks often fit in a standard 2-1/8” hole, allowing you to use an existing door for a pocket door. This is a great way to repurpose an older door with lots of character or simply save on your remodeling budget, and it makes installation a breeze! If you’re reusing an existing door, be sure to correctly measure the backset so you order the correct latch size for the new pocket door lock. (The backset is the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the 2-1/8” hole. Most doors have a backset of either 2-3/8” or 2-3/4”.) Round pocket door locks usually have a tab that pops out of the edge of the door so you can easily pull the door out of the pocket.

Round Passage Pocket Door Lock Satin Nickel
Round Privacy Pocket Door Lock in Vintage Bronze


If you have a set of two pocket doors that come together (often called converging pocket doors), you can create a locking set with two round pocket door locks. Simply install the cups of the passage lock on one door and a privacy lock on the other. Mount the strike for the privacy on the edge of the passage door, and you’re done! The latch from the privacy will hold the two doors together when the lock is engaged.

Pocket doors (and their locks) can open up a world of possibilities in your home. Look at your house and see if they are right for you.

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Beth - July 1, 2019

Hi Kay,

You can reverse the handing on our pocket door locks – hopefully that helps!


Kay - July 1, 2019

Our daughter is 12 months old and can push open our existing passage enabled pocket doors. It’s problematic because the cat box is on the other side and oh so inviting to a curious baby. We want to replace the passage mechanism with a locking pocket door mechanism as a child safety lock…employing the same cutout and installing a catch on the other side. Here’s the dumb part of the question…is the locking mechanism reversible so the lock can be deployed on the public side of the door? The images I see of the lock itself look like they only work one direction…or does the catch part work both ways or can it be flipped. TIA

Beth Basch - January 14, 2019

Hi Raj,

Unfortunately, pocket door locks wouldn’t be a great solution to the opening you’re describing.

Raj - January 14, 2019

Can I install the pocket door locks (as mentioned for converging pocket doors) for 2 regular swinging double doors? I am trying to minimize the projection of door knobs / handles due to a very entry narrow passage going into a bedroom.

Beth Basch - September 24, 2018

Hi Gerald,

Unfortunately, we do not make a pocket door lock with thumb turns on both sides.

Beth - September 24, 2018

Hi Lindsay,

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to install our pocket door locks with only one side of the lock.

Lindsay - September 24, 2018

Is it possible to install a pocket door lock such as these with only ONE side (the locking side) installed? In other words, I only wanting the locking mechanism to function one the interior side of the pocket door and for the exterior side to be blank with no plate. Obviously this would make the safety unlock feature from the exterior not function, but that is OK.

gerald russell - September 24, 2018

I was wandering we just installed a pocket door and was wandering if they made a lock that has thumb turns on both sides instead of slot on one side and thumb turn on other

Beth - December 21, 2017

Hi Bill,

Unfortunately, we don’t have a backset that’s 2" or 2 1/8" for the pocket door latch.

Bill - November 29, 2017

Can i get a pocket door latch with a 2 1/8" or 2" backset??

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