A sliding barn door saga: The finished product!

So a few weeks ago I shared about getting this old wooden door ready to hang in our master bedroom (sanding, staining, etc.) as a sliding “barn” door. It’s actually been hanging for a while, but with all the busyness of the holidays, I just didn’t have time to take pictures and get a post written.

After sanding the door, adding some wooden pieces to each end to add height, and staining it, we were ready to begin the hanging process. This was really intimidating for me, cause we had to screw 6 huge holes in the door! We chose to go with the more industrial track and hardware, partly because we liked the look and partly because it was nearly $400 cheaper (more explanation on that here).

Ultimately, we got it figured out and now we have a sliding door in our bedroom! I explain the process in detail later, but first the exciting part. Here’s what our master bedroom looked like when we first moved in complete with popcorn ceilings!

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And here’s what it looks like now with our new sliding door!

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Now if we could just do something about that ugly floor in the closet!

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I love how well the light fixture and the door go together! Our bed frame and dresser are really more french provincial, so I was worried that without another industrial element the door might look out of place. I think the light fixture really helps tie it all together.

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For now we’ve moved this dresser to the opposite wall. It was just too big next to the door and kind of took away from it. I’m not sure we love it there (and Andrew’s already run into it several times in the dark), so it might end up moving to the wall opposite our bed.

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Meanwhile, I stuck a few things in that huge empty corner, just so it doesn’t look so huge and bare. Eventually we want some of kind of reading nook with some shelves, a comfy chair, lamp, etc.

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So now here are the gory details…After having gone through this whole process, I find it annoying that none of the other pictures I’ve found of sliding barn doors come with explanations of the process or how much work it is.

First, we found our hardware and box rail at our local Do It Best hardware store. This isn’t your typical big box hardware store, but primarily lumber and farm supply, hence why they had the right hardware for a barn door (Tractor Supply had box rails also, but they didn’t come in the shorter 8′ length, and we weren’t able to find the coordinating hardware). We looked at Lowe’s and Home Depot and once we got past the blank stares from the employees, found out they have nothing of the sort. I’ve stumbled upon a few DIY barn doors that use closet door tracks and plastic rollers, but these really aren’t meant to support very much weight. Also, they’re not attractive to look at (either for an industrial look or otherwise) so if you go with that method, you might want to hang a wooden valance over the track. Personally I prefer that the hardware and track are exposed and have a more rustic look.

Here’s what you need for this method (most of it should come in a kit, except the box rail and the pieces to hang the box rail.)

  • 2 metal casters/rollers (bottom left)
  • 2 long screws that attach the casters to the top of the metal brackets (bottom middle)
  • 2 metal brackets to attach to the door (top left) and 3 screws/nuts per bracket (in bag)
  • 2 stop pieces that go into each end of the track to keep the door from sliding off (bottom right).
  • 3 hanging pieces for the track (you might need more depending on the length of the track, how many doors you’re hanging, and the weight they’ll be holding) and 1 screw per piece (top right).
  • 1 box rail, at least twice length of your door(s)

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The total for the kit, the 8′ box rail, and 3 hanging pieces was $92.

After prepping the door (sanding, staining, and most importantly, making sure it was the right height and width for our doorway), the first step is to install the metal brackets on the door. I centered them on the door and adjusted them to where I thought they looked best. Then Andrew drilled the holes.

The kit didn’t come with metal washers, but if you’re using a wooden door, it’s a good idea to use some. After he screwed them into the door, he cut off the back of each bolt with a Dremel tool.

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We also figured out that the back of the metal brackets stuck out too far on the back of the door.

Without getting too close to the hole and weakening the back of it, Andrew ground down the back edge with the Dremel tool. If you use a door that’s thicker than ours, this probably wouldn’t be and issue, but see how close it is to the wood even after filing it down? Before it would have scraped.

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Andrew cut the metal track using a Dremel tool to make sure it was accurate, and then sanded the edge using an angle grinder.  The wooden piece behind the track is another important element. After working through the logistics of it all, we realized there had to be something behind the track to bump the door out from the wall a little further. You can find more on that along with how we finished out the door frame here.

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Again, this is something no other “tutorials” talked about, though after realizing that we needed it, we noticed it in almost all the the other pictures. Like this one, for example, even with a different kind of hardware.

Once you have the door frame completed (we took out a preexisting door and frame and redid the frame without door jambs and continued the trim around the inside of the door), install the wooden piece above. We did a thick enough piece of wood that we had some wiggle room as far as where to install the track, so we just put the wooden piece directly on top of the trim instead of with a space between like the picture above.

Then we brought the door inside with the brackets already attached and the screws already through the casters and bolted to the bracket.

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To see where to put the track, we pushed the door straight up against the wall, held the casters up against the end of the bolts and added a little for clearance at the bottom of the door. We made a mark at the bottom of the casters, as that will be approximately the bottom of the track. We then fed the track over the casters and tried to lift up the whole thing (track and the door), lining it up with the marks. This was just as a final check that it wasn’t going to hit the floor or be too far away from the floor.

We set the door aside and first measured the distance between the 3 pieces that hold the track to make sure they were evenly spaced. Then we lined up the track again and marked the screw holes of the 3 metal hanging pieces. We checked again to make sure the track was mostly level and the brackets evenly spaced, though we focused on making it look visually level (our ceiling and floors aren’t perfectly square, so simply using a level might actually make them look off.) And then we screwed it in!

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We chose to slide the hanging pieces onto the track before hanging it, and then I held the track while Andrew screwed in the pieces. Then we slid the door onto the track. The door itself didn’t look like it was hanging straight, so we fixed it by adjusting the screws that attach the casters to the brackets on the door just slightly until we liked the way it looked. Shown again below…

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Then all that’s left to do is hammer in the stops on each end (which we haven’t actually done yet, cause it’s hard to get them in there!).

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It was a lot longer and harder of a process than we originally anticipated, but we love the end result and think it was definitely worth it! Our house is sort of lacking in architectural details and character, so this definitely helps bring some uniqueness into our house! We absolutely love it! This may be my favorite project yet!

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2 Responses to A sliding barn door saga: The finished product!

  1. Laura May 8, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

    Hi,
    Where did you get the door that you used?

    • Simple House Expressions May 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

      Hey Laura! We found it at the Habitat for Humanity Restore! We had to sand and re-stain it, but it was worth it. If you have a Restore, I would start there or at other salvage places in your area. There are also a lot of great designs for barn doors that are fairly easy and cheap to make yourself, plus that way you can make it exactly the size you need! Just keep in mind the door needs to be slightly taller than a normal door would be since it’s supposed to cover the opening rather than fit inside. We actually had to add a small wooden piece to each end to make ours tall enough.

      -Arielle