Swinging? French? Pocket? Find out which type of interior door is best for your new home or next remodeling project.

When choosing a door type, there is more to think about than how you’re going to get from one room to another. In addition to traffic flow, the best door for you depends on space, security, light, and your unique design vision. This article will equip you with the information you need to make the kind of buying decisions that you’ll be happy to live with every day for as long as you live in your home.

A TruStile pocket door with frosted glass panels that leads into a kitchen area.

Pocket Doors

What is a pocket door?

Instead of swinging on hinges, most pocket doors slide on wheels that are hung from a rail from above. When closed, a pocket door is tucked conveniently away into the wall cavity. Pocket doors can have one panel that slides either right or left or can be comprised of two panels that open in the middle.

What are the advantages of a pocket door?

The main advantage of pocket doors is that they do not require any floor or wall space to operate. This means you could park an end table or chair or hang photos or paintings on both sides of a pocket door in each room, making it perfect for smaller spaces.

Considerations when choosing a pocket door

Installing a pocket door requires planning. The interior of most wall cavities is not empty — pipes, wires, and ductwork are usually hidden inside. In order to make room for the door panel to slide inside the “pocket,” all wires and mechanical systems cannot be routed through that space. This is not a big problem with new construction projects and additions, but adding a pocket door to existing spaces can sometimes pose a challenge.

A closed orange Trustile barn door in a kitchen.

Barn Doors

What is a barn door?

Just like a pocket door, a barn door is attached to wheels that hang from an overhead rail, but unlike a pocket door, the rail and door panel are located on the surface of the wall rather than inside it. The interior barn door style was adopted from actual historic barn doors, which are still popular with farmers because they are easy to open, easy to keep open, and don’t require a lot of space to operate. Even though today’s interior barn doors share the same name with their rural cousins, the term barn door refers more to the operation style of the door rather than the appearance of the door panel. An interior barn door panel doesn’t need to be made of red, rough-sawn wood. You can find barn door panels and hardware that could live comfortably in any décor from Mediterranean to French cottage style.

What are the advantages of a barn door?

The main advantage of barn doors is similar to pocket doors, which is that they don’t require a lot of floor space to operate. While you can’t place furniture right up against the wall, a barn door panel is still able to slide behind a table or chair. But unlike a pocket door, installing a barn door does not interfere with most mechanical systems so it can be a great choice for remodel projects.

Considerations when choosing a barn door

Due to the nature of the operation style, locking mechanisms on barn doors can be a bit awkward. Barn doors also don’t seal tightly like other doors, so they may not be the best choice if you want to prevent the movement of sounds or air flow from one room to another. To prevent pinched fingers, the sounds of slamming, and damaging hardware, consider a soft close hardware option for heavy barn doors. Installing jambs and casing is not necessary when installing a barn door, so if you want a trim-free look, make sure to remind the drywall crew to finish the openings while they’re working on the walls and ceilings.

Mirrored TruStile Bi-Fold doors in a modern bathroom with large white bathtub.

Bi-Fold Doors

What is a bi-fold door?

A bi-fold door, sometimes called a folding door, has two panels that are hinged together. The panels fold into each other when pushed to the side. Smaller openings can have just one two-panel bi-fold door that slides either to the right or left. Larger openings can be fitted with two, two-panel bi-fold doors, one that opens to the left and the other to the right. Bi-fold doors can be hung by wheels that slide on an overhead track or can operate on pivot pins located at the top and bottom on the hinge-side panel near the door jamb.

What are the advantages of a bi-fold door?

If a four-panel bi-fold door is used to fill an opening, the panels will only protrude into the room 1/4 of the distance when open compared to if a single-panel swinging door was installed. This is why bi-fold doors are often found in long shallow rooms like bedroom closets or where space needs to be maintained for people to walk by, like laundry rooms and kitchen pantries.

Considerations when choosing a bi-fold door

There are no easy-to-install pre-hung options for bi-fold doors — the side and top jambs in the opening will have to be installed and finished before the bi-fold door panels are installed. Heavy door panels may require heavy-duty hardware, so make sure to match the weight of your pocket door panel with the weight capacity of the bi-fold door hardware. There are not as many secure and simple-to-operate locking mechanisms for bi-fold doors, so they may not be the best choice if security is a concern.

Why TruStile, a Marvin Brand

Marvin has been an industry leading window and exterior door manufacturer for nearly 100 years. In 2015 Marvin acquired TruStile, a brand known to bring the same commitment for excellence to the interior door space as Marvin delivers in its windows and doors. Just like Marvin products, TruStile interior doors are only found at experienced supply partners with unrivaled local building expertise. TruStile partners specialize in serving contractors, home builders, architects, and design professionals who understand that it takes well-designed, heirloom-quality products to create truly special spaces for their clients. Both Marvin and TruStile are passionate about innovation and imagining new ways to help people feel healthier and happier in the spaces where they live, work, and play.