I believe there is a story of inspiration in our hearts that drives us to do what we do, and if our hearts live with us in our homes, we should honor those inspirations and surround ourselves with things that bring us closer to our hearts. Here is a little story about why I decided to build a rustic barn door for my kitchen, followed by a step-by-step DIY guide for designing and building your own barn door.
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Cowboy Boots and Barn Wood Doors
I have been grounding lately; getting back in touch with my childhood roots from a small town in Colorado. It all started with buying a pair of real cowboy boots. Now, I’m extending the grounding process into my home, bringing in design aspects that make me feel closer to who I am. Nothing reminds me of my childhood spent with horses quite like barn wood doors.
My kitchen had been feeling a bit too sterile and distant. Even with the addition of the industrial rustic glam pendants and rustic backsplash, I was longing for something closer to my heart. The cowboy boots had brought back a piece of me that I had dearly missed, and I knew that a barn wood aesthetic carefully placed in the kitchen would deliver another piece of me. With the help of Pinterest and Houzz, I decided on a rustic sliding pantry barn door.
Not only would a sliding barn wood door solve a functional design issue caused by the old door swinging into the island, but it would also extinguish the cloak of sterility that had descended on the kitchen. It would also infuse some rustic flair that I had been craving for the heart of our home. Once I made up my mind, there was no stopping me. The mountains of laundry and housekeeping lists couldn’t stand in the way of my barn door dreams.
I hope you can find a weekend to create a sliding barn door for your home. You’ll be amazed at how it immediately adds character, functionality, and warmth to your space. Happy building!
DIY Design & Build Guide – Rustic Barn Door
Difficulty level: Intermediate – some carpentry skills and use of power tools.
Time: 1 Weekend
Tools & Supplies: Miter saw, drill/driver, a ratchet set, nail gun, Kreg Jig, pocket screws (dimensions determined by the thickness of your wood), wood glue, level, stud finder, construction or deck screws, stain or paint and brushes or sponges. Barn door track and hardware. I’ve included some choices from Amazon but you can also have custom hardware made for you. Search Etsy for makers who specialize in barn door hardware.
Take a deep breath. YOU CAN DO THIS! You might even have fun 🙂
1. Dimensions – Measure twice!!! Always!!!
Height: (My door is 84″ tall. I have 8′ ceilings in the kitchen)
- Take into account the hanging hardware, which extends beyond the top of the door.
- Leave room for the door to be lifted onto the track. Take advantage of this custom-build opportunity to get the aesthetic you want.
- If you are installing a floor guide, you need to leave enough room between the bottom of the door and the floor
- If you are not installing a floor guide, you will still need to leave at least 1/8″ between the floor and door so that the door doesn’t drag.
Width: (My door is 40″ wide. My door opening is 32″. My track is 78″ long)
- You want your door to cover your opening and possibly extend beyond the opening to cover the existing door trim.
- Your door will extend beyond the track stop by the number of inches to the left or right of the door hanger. Really think about functionality and aesthetics when determining your height and width.
- Your door can be half the width of your track, plus the number of inches on the outside of the door hangers,
- Inspect your track hardware and follow the instructions for dimensions before building your door as these measurements are just a guide from the hardware that I used.
2. Double sided or single sided door
- This building tutorial is for a single-sided door, meaning that the “style”, as in the cross rails, side stiles, and top, bottom and center rails, only appear on one side of the door.
- If you are building a pass-through door, where the door will be seen on both sides, you might want to consider a tongue and groove construction style. If you use this tutorial and add the style on both sides, the door will be too thick and you will be unable to attach the door hanging hardware. Stay tuned, as I have another barn door project in mind for this type of door.
3. Door style
- Carefully consider the life of your door. Ask yourself these questions:
- Where did it live before it came into your home?
- Was it an exterior barn door exposed to the elements for decades or an interior door of an equestrian center?
- Was it a door that was painted four different colors and abandoned to allow chipping paint to show through?
- How is the style going to fit into your home?
My biggest piece of advice here is to take your time gaining inspiration for your project.
When I go on trips, I always pull inspiration from the places I visit.
My design vision:
I pictured an interior tack room of a well-maintained barn; wood that had years of wear and tear, and darkening caused by age, but had not been exposed to the weather. I distressed and stained the newborn pine accordingly, to give it years and experience beyond its actual life. You can also opt to visit a salvage yard and purchase reclaimed wood from a barn or other demolished project if it fits your aesthetic more accordingly.
- Search “barn door track hardware” and select a style that matches your vision, a price that fits your budget, and dimensions that fit your opening.
- I found my hardware on Amazon Prime, however, there are many places on the internet where you can find the hardware to purchase. I included links at the beginning of the post.
- There are several kits available with many different styles online, so carefully consider your measurements and style before haphazardly ordering.
- Make sure you look at the specifications carefully before purchasing and take the time to read product reviews, which can be very helpful.
- My door hardware was metric and the holes for the track support were spaced 17″ apart, which is not the standard stud spacing for homes built in the USA. I remedied this issue by installing a track support board over the drywall, into the studs.
- I would NEVER recommend using drywall anchors of any kind to support a massive barn wood door and track. It MUST be mounted onto wood or solid material.
- If you have the tools and expertise, you can also make your own track and hardware. If you’re up for the challenge and can safely do it, go for it! YouTube has some great tutorials on barn door track fabrication.
- Put your creation on paper using the dimensions and style that you have decided on.
- Keep in mind the standard dimensions of lumber when you are designing your door, i.e., an 8″ wide board is actually only 7.5″ wide.
- Once your design is complete, make your shopping list for the lumber.
- For this project, I headed directly to the common pine aisle at the hardware store. It’s the least expensive wood, however, you have to be willing to spend some time inspecting every piece, making sure it’s straight and not twisted.
- Tips for surviving the common pine aisle:
- You can ensure that each piece is straight by laying out the pieces on the floor along the straight cement line.
- If they sit completely flat on the floor and line up, top to bottom, with the line in the cement on both sides, it’s a keeper.
- Look for grain patterns, cool knots, and interesting marks that will pop after the piece is stained.
- Do not shop for common pine when you are in a hurry. You will end up with crooked, twisted wood and unimaginable frustration when you start your project.
- Here is the shopping list for my barn wood door (40″ wide by 7ft tall)
- 5 (1X8X8) for the door
- 3 (1X4X8) for the extra back panel, crossbars and track support (buy one extra if you are worried about the crossbar angle cuts).
- 3 (1X6X8) for the frame.
The wood was only $46, which still amazes me each time I look at the door. I had my Minwax dark walnut stain and pocket screws already, so that saved me some money.
- Start by measuring and marking the wood for your cuts. MEASURE TWICE!!!
- My side stiles are 1×6 boards cut to 84″.
- My top, center and bottom rails are 1×6 boards cut to 29″.
- For the back panel, My 5 1×8 boards and 1 1×4 board are cut to 84″.
- Below is a picture of the frame laid out. I put the pieces together and checked all corners to make sure they were square.
At this point in the project, if you are planning on installing a floor guide, you should use a table saw to create a groove on your bottom rail and the bottom of your side stiles. I did not want to install a floor guide, but it is recommended. Without the door guide, the door has a tendency to swing a little.
Installing the frame using pocket holes and glue
Now I scribed the cross rails by placing the frame on the cross rail boards. I then marked them, cut them on the miter saw and put them in the frame to dry-fit before installing to back panel.
During this step, I lined up the 1×8 boards and the 1×4 board that create the back panel. I made sure the cuts were perfect before drilling pocket holes into the boards every 6-8″. I attached them using pocket screws and wood glue but you can also use pipe clamps and glue to secure the back panel.
Now attach the frame to the back panel using wood glue and nails. I used an 18 guage nail gun with 1″ nails about every 8″ but you can use screws or a hammer and small nails.
You can use wood filler to patch the holes or leave them for a rustic look. The door is ready for stain!
I decided to bring the door inside before hanging my track. I’m a very visual person, so even though I could have easily taken measurements, I liked the idea of having my door in the room with me. I love how the door extends almost a half a foot beyond the old pantry door! It makes the ceiling appear taller.
Install a support board if the holes on your track do not line up with studs. Attach the board into every stud possible. Use a level!!
In the picture above, you can see that the left side of the track lines up directly with the outside edge of the trim. I wanted my door to cover the trim completely when closed. The top of my track is installed 7 3/4″ from the ceiling. I have 8′ ceilings in the kitchen.
- Mark the holes from the track onto the board, keeping the level on top of your track to ensure that it is PERFECTLY LEVEL.
- Then start at one side and attach bolts with track spacers into your support board or stud. Then go to the other end and repeat, followed by repeating the steps on the remaining track spacers and bolts.
- See how the track sticks out from the wall? That is essential! Don’t install it backward.
I used an orbital palm sander with 100 grit paper to lightly go over the edges and sand off any wood glue that seeped out. If you want to distress your door, now is the time. You can hit it with a hammer, scrape it with sharp objects to create the appearance of wormholes, or use a chisel to chip out pieces. Be creative! Remember the life that you want to give your door. I spent 3-4 hours staining the door and getting the look just right.
You need to make some very accurate measurements before attaching the door hardware. Make sure the hanger is in a position that is both functional and visually pleasing. Make sure hangers are attached at the same place on both sides of the door to ensure symmetry.
Remember that your door will stop sliding where the hanging hardware hits the track stop. Your door will most likely extend beyond that point if the hangers are not installed directly on the outside edge.
- Measure, measure, measure, and measure one more time before installing door hanging hardware.
- You might choose to use a scrap of wood that is the same height as your door for this step to make sure your door will hang at the correct height.
- The bottom of the wheel sits on the top of the track, so don’t make the mistake of measuring from the top of the wheel. You can hang the door hanger on the track and use the scrap piece of wood to determine where your holes for the door hardware should be drilled.
- Once you are 100% sure that your measurements are accurate, drill holes for the hardware into your door and attach the door hangers.
- Now it is time to hang your door. Adjust the track stop guides on both sides of the track to stop the door where you want it to.
- If you are installing a floor guide, now is the time to place it on the floor and mark where you want it to be installed while the door is hanging.
My door glides beautifully and quietly and stops exactly where I want it to. If your door is extending too far to the left or right of your track, simply adjust the track stops.
Now, stand back and enjoy your beautiful barn door!
I hope it brings you warmth, a feeling of accomplishment, and a little closer to your heart. <3