Super Easy Bathroom Sliding Door For Tiny Houses
For two years our family endured a quasi-private bathroom with nothing more than a red curtain separating it from the rest of the living area (see photo on right). I was actually quite proud of that achievement because it epitomized our sense of ease around each other. But then the day came. The moment fell upon us when our darling 16 year old daughter proclaimed in an interview for Japan’s largest TV network that the only thing she wished for our tiny house was a proper bathroom door. Fair enough. I don’t know of too many teens that would have put up with a piece of fabric for privacy as long as she and our 19 year old son had. Plus, it was always rather awkward when not-super-close friends (or members of the press) would use the bathroom and we would all shuffle out of the house to give them privacy.
The curtain was always going to be a temporary solution anyways but each time we researched how to build a sliding door to take its place, we were stymied by two obstacles: 1) Hardware for sliding doors is typically very costly and 2) We couldn’t find a rail system small enough to accommodate our specific needs. For months we poked around the internet trying to find a solution.
Below are the parameters and limitations we had to overcome in order to make the sliding door work:
- Our door panel had to be quite thin (no more than 3/4″ thick)
- Our door panel had to weigh less than 75 pounds. The heavier the door, the larger and more heavy duty a track system needs to become
- Our track system would need to be hung from the bathroom ceiling/loft joist
- The door panel and track system would have to allow for easy glide so that we could slide our door panel into a very narrow 1″ gap between our tall bathroom storage cabinet and the bathroom wall that separates it from the living area
One day, while ambling through the aisles of Home Depot, I stopped at the pocket door section in the hardware aisle. I knew I needed some sort of system that would allow a door panel to be hung from but I didn’t which one. On a whim, I grabbed a $13.58 track system for pocket -or- pocket less doors thinking I would take it hOMe and see if it would even be a starting place for something I could retrofit. Turns out this was exactly and perfectly what we needed, straight out of the box.
To install the track, we cut it to match the length we needed as our opening is less than the 36″ that the track is made for. After that we gave it a coat of flat black spray paint and screwed it overhead to our loft joist. We grabbed a piece of left over cabinet face material we from IKEA (which was an exact match to our cabinet fronts throughout the house), cut it to the right dimensions (we bought it in a 4’x8′ sheet), and used it as our door panel. It ended up weighing only 40 pounds. *Note: you could very easily grab any piece of 1/2″-3/4″ plywood or equivalent and customize it to match the look and feel of your tiny house.
We screwed the wheel brackets to the top edge of our door panel using the included screws. Since all of the door weight hangs on just four screws, we were worried that perhaps the screws would tear through the particle board (which is what our panel’s interior is made of) but it has held without any complaints at all. The only tricky part was getting the panel to hang from the track because space is so confined in the bathroom. We persevered and ultimately conquered and in less than one hour of toil, we had a working bathroom door.
We cut a small piece of trim board for the front door face to conceal the track system from the living room (see photo below on left). For a handle we knew we wanted something large and easy to grasp, but the challenge was finding an option that allowed the two handles to be placed exactly back to back to each other. Nearly all cabinetry door handles/pulls are attached with screws that are inserted from the back. We also weren’t happy with general hardware handles because they all showed the screws on the face. During another Home Depot outing, I wandered into the bathroom aisle and came across…can you guess what our handles actually are? Toilet paper holders! The screws are hidden behind the handle, which allowed us to attach them at the face.
It has been several months since the install and it’s all working just as well as it did on the first day. Since we already had our door panel, our cost was just under $14 but even if someone had to buy a new one, building this door would still be a steal. Surprisingly, there is a significant amount of sound dampening when the door is closed and when inside the bathroom, it offers solid privacy. When people come over now, even total strangers, nobody has to go outside and stand awkwardly in the rain and snow until the guest is done. Plus our daughter’s only tiny house wish finally came true so it’s a happy ending to the story of the hOMe bathroom that finally grew up.