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

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.

Track Walls

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.

Curtain Walls

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.