Options to Build a Barn Door

Options to Build a Barn Door

Titus Gilliam

Who knew that you didn’t have to live in a barn to have a barn door! Surface mount sliding wood doors can add decoration and novel functionality to spaces that otherwise may never have been dreamed.

Here we will detail several options for you to achieve a unique barn door. First, you could ask us to build you a custom wood door of any unlimited combination and design of materials from glass, metal, or wood. The quickest and best value for doors from us for ordering just one at a time is our stock barn door slab. One of our biggest struggles in educating customers is what makes our doors different:

  • We will make to whatever exact size you need, and oversized doors are our specialty.
  • Solid wood made entirely from recycled lumber with an engineered stave core, mortise, and tenon plus dowels joinery (a number of companies offer the appearance of reclaimed wood but it is not actually real reclaimed/ instead they offer rescued or salvaged timber that was not actually previously used in a building).
  • This is a real door that is fully assembled which is equal quality and look on all sides (others are selling kits or ones that only have one good side).
  • Many will claim they can buy wood at Home Depot and make it look the same as ours. That will take a lot of faux distress, and the short answer is impossible. One could make the same claim that costume jewelry is equal to the real thing, but you must decide what qualities and look is important to you.

Likely your most affordable solution will be to find an existing door at a salvage yard. The trick here is locating the right size. Here are some tips when shopping for a salvage door:

  • Try to have flexibility in sizing your opening to match the door you find. When the door is placed over the opening it should be a minimum of 3” wider and an inch taller. If the opening is sheetrock wrapped rather than trimmed it will give you greater flexibility.
  • It is simpler to match a door to track hardware if the door is sized in 6” increments off the foot marks and order the track length to be twice the width of the door. Our barn door track hardware comes in even one-foot increments. It can be cut down or move the stops if you want to change to match an odd door size.
  • Be cautious of painted doors because of lead-based paint.

Finally, if you still want a reclaimed wood door but you cannot afford one of our heirloom quality door slabs, here are a few options to experiment with. The trade-off here is that the cost savings will require more sweat equity on your part. Before you dive into the project make sure you have a full budget prepared and that you have all the necessary tools to make it to the end. Since you are not buying a warrantied finished door understand that there are some unknown variables which will likely take more time and expense than you initially thought, but you will also gain a sense of satisfaction that you made it on your own. Are you a Do It Yourself enthusiast?

Shop Craigslist for barn wood, and when you buy it planning on buying three times as much material as what you actually think you will need because when you go to start cutting and assembling it you will find all kinds of problems with it that you did not anticipate. The waste factor with unprocessed reclaimed lumber is always higher than most people anticipate. All of our products we sell go through an extensive process from metal detecting, pressure washing, and a kiln that both dries and sterilizes the wood before the wood is even machined into paneling or door parts. Be careful with your barn wood to not cut into hidden nails and make sure it is clean and free of bugs before you bring it into your home. Likely this wood will be warped and twisted so you will not have a flat door as we can build with our laminating process, but barn doors are more forgiving with quirks than hinged swing doors that have to fit in a jamb. Maybe consider using heavy bolts and nuts to assemble the planks so that they are both functional and decorative; this will look better than screws. Try to shop for either black fasteners or uncoated plain steel ones that can be rusted. When planning the design and layout of your door consider the size of your raw materials and which direction combinations they must run to have strength. For example one cannot run a number of planks horizontally and only edge glue; this door will fall apart without some additional brace applied vertically. Introducing raw steel adds a shabby chic industrial look and is an easy way to strengthen the door where your plank layout needs it. If you are keeping the original old patina and texture, try to hide all fresh cut edges; aniline dye works well to touch up bright fresh cut spots to match the antique colors. You may want to do a light hand sand to knock down the splinters. Refer to our FAQ page for more finishing suggestions.

If you would like to use reclaimed wood but don't want to have all the scary unknowns that come with using raw barn lumber, then consider using one of our accent wall paneling products to build the door. Be sure to carefully read the specs for the sizes this material comes in because it may not necessarily match the design you have in mind for the door. We do not offer sorting options when we sell this paneling (don't expect to get a certain length unless you check with us). It is intended to go on a wall in a random length pattern so your door would likely end up with splice joints in the middle. Therefore you could use it as a skin on both sides of a substrate like a piece of plywood. Order a little extra for a waste factor, but it is already processed and defected so it is all usable, unlike raw barn wood. Another good strategy is to buy extra for an accent wall so you have extra to choose from; high grade the best material to use on your door. Make sure to do both sides of your plywood core to keep it from warping, and apply with both brad nails and glue. Try to source your sheet goods to be flat otherwise your door will look like a "C". You also will need to contend with having the sheet material shown on the edge. You can hide this with a metal edge-band or rip down more of the paneling to insert on the edge.

To establish a budget, let's say you want to build one big barn door that is roughly 4' wide and 8' tall (a smaller door would be slightly less). Here are some material costs:

  • 75 square feet of our Idaho Barn Wood Blend Paneling (see photos below for this option). 75 x $8.51 = $638.25, Or our Oak Blend Reclaimed Wall Paneling would be about $79.50 less.
  • Sheet of ¾" plywood or particle board. $40
  • Glue and brad nails. $15
  • Finish. $50
  • Try our unfinished flat track barn door hardware in an 8' length. $285 (Be sure to download our Installation Instructions for further tips)
  • And add one of our horseshoe barn door pull handles for good luck. $24
  • So if you already have the time and tools your total project is likely to cost about $1000 (excluding labor to build door). This total cost for materials is about $600-1200 less than a single door and track from our online store. Keep in mind that the second door and track combination have significant discounts in the online store, so if you buy more than one door this DIY option may not be cheaper.
  • Remember with this DIY budget that it doesn't include labor, mistakes, trips to the hardware store to buy accessories and such. Also, the door will likely not turn out flat. Whereas when you buy one of our barn door slabs all these unknowns are removed from the equation.