To Soft-Close, or Not to Soft-Close?

There's some excellent pocket door hardware on the market: Hafele's Slido brand has long been a contender. Hawa, the Austrian powerhouse, is rivaled only by EKU, a Swiss company, for the best, smoothest track and rollers money can buy. We have scores of super happy customers in all three brands.

When talking pocket door hardware with a new client, the question inevitably arises: What about soft-close? Cabinet doors have it. Drawers have it. Wouldn't it be great if pocket doors had it too? You could close the door with gusto, and the hardware would 'catch' it 6" before it fully closed, pulling it closed in a slow, controlled motion.

Well, as it turns out, there are options. To date, there are two products in this space.

Smuso: Boasting most of the market share, the Smuso soft-close mechanism integrates seamlessly with Hawa and Slido track & roller kits.

The Smuso soft-close mechanism isn't designed for pocket doors specifically. Rather, it's designed for sliding doors generally. Think bypass doors, barn sliders, etc. Hafele suggests (but never says explicitly) that the mechanism can/should be used for pocket doors, too. Indeed, we've installed many of them in our pocket door frames, and our old Hafele sales representative insisted that they were a perfectly acceptable pocket door solution. He even marketed them as such.

Unfortunately, several of the Smuso units we installed broke after a few months of use, and because of the design of the Slido and Hawa tracks/rollers, you can't remove the broken Smuso without causing some serious damage, e.g. tearing out drywall. Sort of a nightmare. Until Slido and Hawa modify their track so that the Smuso unit is removable without having to remove the entire track, we won't be using the Smuso soft-close mechanism.

The Smuso soft-close mechanism

The Smuso soft-close mechanism

EKU: A Swiss product, the EKU soft-close mechanism is sold by Hafele, and integrates only with EKU track and roller kits.

In a moment of brilliance, EKU made its soft-close mechanism easily removable after installation of the track. If it breaks, one could remove the door, remove a cover plate on the bottom of the track, and slide the soft-close mechanism right out. Check out the first few seconds of this video for a visual. Clever, right? 

What's the verdict?

If you want a soft-closing pocket door (who doesn't??) and you have the budget for it, go for the EKU. Keep in mind that you'll have to buy the soft-close mechanism separately--it doesn't ship standard with the track & rollers. It's a bit pricey, but you'll sleep better knowing that if the mechanism breaks, the most it'll cost you is a replacement mechanism and a few minutes of your time.

If you don't have the budget for the EKU, we can't suggest Smuso with good conscience. Your pocket door and hardware should last as long as the walls around it. We expect that Smuso/Slido/Hawa will figure out the removability issue at some point, but until then, it's just not worth the risk. You'll be surprised at just how smoothly the Hawa and Slido systems work without soft-close.