How to DIY & Install a Barn Door

How Fun Is This?!

We are back with another fun DIY project that we’ve been working on! If you follow along on stories than you may have see that we remodeled our primary closet (you can see more here) and in the process we removed the door. The original door swung into the closet making the space a lot less functional and more cramped than necessary! So after a lot of brainstorming, we decided that the solution to the problem would be to build a sliding barn door.

Seeing this project come to life was so much fun and relatively quick! If you are looking to create more space or just jazz up a door, this DIY is for you! Okay… now I’ll let Ryan get to talking! 😉

Picking the Hardware

We went with a National Hardware’s Nickel Barn Door Kit for the door mount. The great thing about this option is that they sell a matching nickel door pull, which we also got. Everything matches and works perfectly together.

Soft Close Kit

The one accessory we added is a “soft close kit”. Also made by National Hardware for the exact mount kit we installed. It’s completely optional, but it really does make for a better experience! The door never slams in either direction and the attachment also serves as a latch of sorts when the door is in the open or closed position.

To Build or Buy a Barn Door?

This is the big question.

You can easily buy a barn door if you can find it in the size you need. Unfortunately, the style size we needed was nowhere to be found off the shelf and would have to be custom ordered. We knew this was going to take both time and money (custom doors can run anywhere from $500 to $2,000 depending on size and materials – ours would have cost around the middle of that range).

So we decided to build it, and I am glad we did!

Pros of Building a Barn Door:

  1. It’s EASY and can be done in a weekend. It does not require a ton of power tools. You can easily get by with a brad nail gun (or wood glue), a few clamps, a drill, and a miter saw.
  2. Pick Your Style! If you’re into Chip and Joanna Gaines, get a more rustic look with tongue and groove panels. Have a different look? No problem! You can build these doors yourself with tongue & groove, common board, MDF, blank slab, one-two-three or even 4 panels.
  3. Custom Sized to the door you have – you don’t have to just make something work.
  4. Save Money – as I mentioned above, it’s difficult to check all three boxes of size, style, and economically priced. You can build a door, depending on size and materials, for anywhere from $150-$300. Ours came in at around $200.

The Style We Chose:

We chose to build a two panel shaker style door for our bathroom.

To us, it was clean cut and not too “Magnolia Market”, if you know what I mean. There is nothing wrong with that style at all. Most barn doors look like, well, barn doors – hence the name. But we wanted something that , but we wanted it to jive with the rest of our home and decor. Plus, we wanted to keep it simple!

How to Build a Barn Door

Tools
  • Drill & Drill Bits
  • Measure Tape
  • Brad Nail Gun (one I’ve had for years and use it for everything! You can alternatively use small screws, but nail gun is preferred)
  • Miter Saw (or circular saw)
  • Clamps
  • Stud Finder
  • Ratchet/Wrench
  • Level
Materials

Measure

Determine the size of the door you need to build by measuring the door opening from edge to edge if there is no door frame. If there is a door frame, you can measure to the outside of the framing if you want the door to full cover it up – this is what I did. Then measure the height from the ground up to the the top of the door opening or frame (again if there is a frame and you want the door to cover it!

Buy Your Materials

For the main door “slab”, I bought a 4×8 foot birch plywood panel at 3/4″ thickness from Home Depot. I own a table saw, but because this project not not require the utmost precision, we went ahead and had them cut the board down to the right size.

Width

Now, here’s where you want to be careful – If you are building a 36″ door following these instructions, you’ll want to cut the width of the panel to 34.5″. That’s because you will be surround the the door with the 1×2 Poplar to give it a finished edge. 1×2 poplar is 3/4″ thick, so that times two gives you 1 1/2″ (36″ – 1 1/2″ = 34 1/2″)

Height

The same concept applies to height as the width, because the poplar will be on top and bottom as well. So if you are aiming for an 84″ door (pretty standard), then 84″ – 1 1/2″ = 82 1/2″

Assemble The Poplar Trim

Start with the vertical trim placement. Cut the poplar 1×4’s so that when in position the ends are flush with the plywood edge. Apply wood glue and clamp into place. Use a brad nail gun to fix in position. Use enough nails so you can remove the clamps and the wood will still be pressed together for the glue to set. (but not too many nails because you’ll have to fill them in later!)

Repeat this process for the horizontal trim, using 1×4 poplar at the top and 1×6 at the bottom

Repeat once again for however many inside trim pieces you want. Our door is a shaker style with two panels, so I only added one using 1×6″. The poplar trim that creates those two sections is not right in the middle on my door. It can go anywhere (so do what makes you happy!), but typically you would place it 1/3 up from the bottom edge of the door, about 27-30″

The Finished Edge Trim

Take the 1×2″ poplar and START with the top and bottom pieces, cutting to size so their edges are flush with the sides of the door. Follow the wood glue, clamp, and nail procedure above.

Repeat this for the vertical 1×2″ pieces.

Fill Nails Holes and any Imperfections

I use this Drydex spackling and it works great to fill in small nail holes and minor gaps. I’ve used it a lot in our kitchen renovation, and the great thing is that it goes on pink, but dries white so you know it’s finished.

Prime and Paint

I really have to be honest with you…I am a terrible painter. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with a brush or spray can, painting a wall or a barn door…I’m just not great at it! That said I did use canned primer and paint for this project and it seemed to work pretty well!

Barn Door Mount Installation:

Instructions come with your barn door hardware kit and may differ from one to another, so the below is a broad overview of the steps to finishing the barn door installation.

Header Board

This piece of wood is cut to the length of your barn door track, in my case 72″. It is primed and painted the same color as the door. Use a stud finder to mark your studs, then use interior screws to fasten it to the wall at the studs. *Make sure you follow the instructions for how high you place above the door according to your door height.

Make sure the board is perfectly level.

Install the Track

Start with the left side of the track and hold it against the header board. Make sure it is in the center of the board (vertically) and also level. Use a pencil to mark the holes where you will need to drill. Repeat on the other side. Once the pilot holes are drilled on both sides, install the track and spacers.

Again, use a level to keep it level.

Attach Roller Hardware & Pull to the Door

Follow the instructions in your kit, as they will tell you how far exactly these need to be positioned on the door. This kit came with a nifty template that made this step extremely easy. Drill pilot holes, then use a wrench to secure them with the provided.

The pull requires two pilot holes to be drilled and is very simple. Position the first hole about 36″ off the bottom edge of the door.

HANG YOUR DOOR!

This can be easier with two people and you can give each other high fives for a job well done!

All that’s left is to install the included door stops, which could not be easier! As a reminder, we also added a soft close kit, which at this point I highly recommend!


That’s all there is to it – a weekend project that can give your home more space, function, and style. Let us know if you try this DIY and post any questions in the comments below!

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2 Comments

  1. Brittney
    October 15, 2020 / 5:03 pm

    Love this door! It’s so nice to see a non-rustic/farmhouse-looking option. 🙂

    • October 16, 2020 / 11:26 am

      Thanks Brittney!! 🙂 Exactly what we were going for!

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