Retractable walls are an effective way of providing temporary division of a larger space. For example, a large family rec room can benefit from a divided wall to give some privacy to a child who has a slumber party, or to set aside a special space during larger social gatherings such as wedding receptions or birthday parties. Retractable walls are a straightforward project that can add resale value to a house.
Accordion panels can fold neatly to one side of the wall yet provide a sturdy surface that resists normal pressures. This type of wall requires a ceiling-mounted track. Panels of a specific width (usually 24 in.) are connected to each other by reverse hinges, and are connected to the top of the track. Often, the panels are made of a durable material, including 2x4 frames with drywall or wood-backed fabric faces. To use the wall, pull the first section across the track and secure it to a connector at the other end.
Purchase several pocket door blanks and affix them to ceiling-mounted tracks. Each track should only extend as far as that section of wall will extend. For example, a 12 ft. wall may require four 3 ft. blanks, so install four tracks in the ceiling, one extending 3 ft., the next to 6 ft., the next to 9 ft., and the last across the room. Include latches to lock the panels to each other. For extra stability, make the blanks overlap each other by 4 in. The wall, when opened, will have a stepped appearance. To avoid a curtain effect, include floor-mounted tracks.
If the wall's stability is not important, consider a installing a ceiling-mounted roller with a heavy cloth, like a window shade, or hinged wooden slats that roll down on wall-mounted tracks. This solution will provide for some privacy, although the structural stability of the wall will be decreased. To avoid any permanent mounting on the wall or ceiling, build a 4x4 frame on wheels that has an integrated track with hinged slats made out of 1x4 planks that roll down on rails on the inside of the 4x4 frame.
Jason Gillikin is a copy editor and writer who specializes in health care, finance and consumer technology. His various degrees in the liberal arts have helped him craft narratives within corporate white papers, novellas and even encyclopedias.