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Barn Door Completion

posted by Matt Pierce on January 03, 2011

I'm happy and excited to unveil the finished bedroom door on it's track! Though I had plenty of little problems along the way, I'm quite pleased with the finished product. I had to let go of everything perfect, and I figured that's just fine with a 103 year old house. My instructions could have started like this:

Step1: Get a door and track. Step2: Bang head on door when you realize how wonky and misaligned walls are.

Ok, it wasn't that bad, but I did have to use more trim than I initially wanted. I'll walk you through the steps so, don't get worried yet.

You’ll need some tools:

  • Drill with drill bits and screwdriver
  • Socket wrench
  • Miter saw
  • Sander / sandpaper and block
  • Finish / paint depending on trim and door needs
  • Circular saw if you need to cut your door

You’ll need a few materials:

  • Track and door hangers from McMaster-Carr $65
  • Door of your choice. Mine was $55 from Rebuilding Center
  • Necessary trim for door casing
  • 1x4 to offset track from wall to clear trim
  • Finish nails
  • Wood filler and spackling and latex caulk

The easiest installation would be to leave your door trim on, just remove the door from it's hinges and hang your new setup so it clears the existing trim. The most idyllic installation would be to pull off the door and trim, finish the edges all flush with no trim, hang the track and new door to the wall and you'll have 1/8" clearance and it will be beautiful. BUT, since my walls are wonky, I had to bolster it out a ways from the bulging wall. It's ok, because the necessary trim lends itself well to an older house. For my installation method, I first measured how tall I wanted to door to be. I bought the door 80x32 wide to cover a 76x28 opening. I first cut my door too short, which I'm quite ashamed about, so make sure you're confident about all your measurements before getting out the saw. I measured to have the track rest one inch above the top of the trim, so I'd have plenty of height. It's best to measure once you have your door brackets actually in the track. Then you can see where your door top will actually rest, and measure to the floor from that point and subtract a small amount to clear the floor. The track looks much better higher than snug to the top of the door anyway.

I took off all my surrounding trim from the door frame and positioned the track where I wanted it and attached it to the wall. Luckily, that was used to be an exterior wall, so it was full of strong siding boards to attach it too. The track and door is heavy, so make sure you hang it on studs, or mount it on a sturdy plywood underboard that you can securely attach. The kit comes with large bolts, so I pre-drilled holes and socketed the frame to the wall. At this point I just attached it as a dry run. I knew I was going to have to shim it away from the wall a bit, but wasn't sure how much until I had things up and could see where I needed extra room. I screwed the heavy brackets to the door and lifted it up into the frame. When up there, I could see where areas were gapped and parts that would rub.

I realized that if I got it away from the wall, it would clear my new trim and still close with small enough tolerances to be private. I cut small blocks of the 1x4 board, one for each of the 4 track mounting points. To make them more secure, the blocks were attached to the wall with 2 screws each, then the large bolt was fastened though the block and into the wall board. Again, pre-drill your block since the bolts are stout. After rehanging, the door cleared everything fine, and with just a tiny nudge, would rest on the trim when closing. I removed the door again, and began to trim out the frame. Using 1x4s and a 1x2 for the front gap edge, I cut to measure and attached with trim nails and a hammer. I left the top trim piece out and spackled the drywall to the door frame, creating a smooth joint. I would put trim up here, but needed the extra 1/2" to lift the door into the track this way. If you don't put a stop-edge on the trim board, you can just slide the door out of one end of the track to remove. I might not put the stop-edge if I did it again... I put it there to act as a stop and give a little more privacy, but I installed a bracket stop on the frame itself instead and found it not as necessary.

After trim boards are up, I primed and then painted white to match the other trim. The outside facing pieces were painted black to match the hallway trim and the outside of the door. I stripped and removed paint on the other side of the door for a natural finish, and it was a major pain. I don't recommend doing the dirty-work yourself, look into some paint-removing services where they actually dip your doors and remove all the crud. 

For a handle, I just kept parts of the original knob setup, but without the knob. The locking lever is very sturdy and works great to slide the door. Since your first inclination is to push the door a little, I put a small wheel into the floor to keep the door aligned. A smarter way would be to cut a channel in the door's underside and have an alignment post slide in there... but I didn't have the correct saw, and that little tiny wheel works fine for me. Just one tiny screw into the floor and I'm ok with that. Now, without much force, my door slides open and completely out of the way and looks pretty cool too. The final touch was to put some numbers on the door to give it that vintage schoolhouse look (since it was actually from an old college)... but I'm not sure I'm happy with it yet. Maybe I'll design something and have it custom cut. Would it be weird for my door to say 'Teachers Lounge'?