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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'?



victoria on November 14 2014 at 10:18AM

this look AMAZING. i love it. maybe this is how i keep lucy out of my living room. :)

Dan @ Manhattan Nest on November 14 2014 at 10:18AM

GAH BEAT ME TO IT, ANNA! Foiled again!

It looks amazing, and what an accomplishment! I LOVE the wire-mesh reinforced glass, I’m dying to use that stuff somewhere in a DIY someday. And the third shot down is really lovely. Great job!

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:18AM

Yes, you caught two first comments in a row! I’m glad you like it, I’m super happy how it turned out too. And, yes, I know you can appreciate the black paint!

Anna @ D16 on November 14 2014 at 10:18AM

(I feel like I’m always the first commenter…)

It looks INCREDIBLE. This reeeeeally makes me wish I had a good spot in my house for a sliding door—I have three pocket doors, but this is different! So awesome. I love the little wheel on the floor, too. Such a good solution!

Loving all of that black, too, of course.

megan on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

i have been anxiously awaiting the final outcome. This turned out amazing. I love the glass! I’m thinking about one of these so I can pitch the dog gate that pisses me off every morning.

Diana on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

It looks absolutely incredible! I’ve always been kind of hesitant about sliding doors (especially on bathrooms, which seemed to be super popular in the eighties in South Africa – don’t know about the states) but this has totally changed my mind. The wire mesh glass & lettering is the cherry on top. Well done.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

YEAH! I’ll drive down and help you install.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Thanks Dan! You should definitely make something with that glass… that stuff is HEAVY.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Aherm… yeah…

JD Hooge on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

“901” is so much classier than the lettering we discussed. :)

Logan on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Very cool! I did something similar but I couldn’t find any track systems less than $300 so I used a $12 closet door track from lowes and modified it. I REALLY like the one you chose though. Did that roller guide on the floor come with the track?

Sally on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

It looks fantastic – we have a similar door frame/skirting board issue that has frightened me off installing a barn door but I just love it. Maybe when I am feeling a bit braver…the door frame is over 100 years old so I would be loathe to stuff it up. I’m for Teacher’s Lounge too – it makes you want to peer inside in a cheeky way!

chris d on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Such a bummer to find that when the outer portion is so gorgeous. I love the idea of using black or a very dark grey. Your floors have such a beautiful grain and a dark color on the door would highlight them. Maybe the wall color?

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Hey Chris, I totally agree with you. After I stripped that panel – I realized it was plywood, probably never really meant to be left unpainted. I’m thinking of painting that inner bottom panel/trim and the glass’ trim something… but not sure what yet. Washed white? Grayish like how the glass appears? Black?

chris d on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

It turned out great! (As does all your other projects!!!) I really love the door you chose.

I can’t help but ask if you’ve considered painting/altering the bottom portion of the door (plywood section)? I ask because you’ve got 3 different wood grains competing in that small area. I just wonder how it would look if you painted/stained the bottom a dark color to pick up on the grain of the floor and maybe relate to the accent wall color. Just a thought.

And thanks to Anna, I’ve found another great blog. Can’t wait for more posts!

dawn on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

this turned out incredibly wonderful.

one vote for ’principal’s office’.
though, 901 looks legit.

Adam on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Wow, found your site the other day and was very very impressed, love the originality of your ideas and the execution looks great. Will now be a site I check daily! Thanks

Logan on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Brilliant man, alot more effective and much better looking than a plastic U-track. You’ve inspired me to rework mine.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Thanks Logan. That roller guide wasn’t included, I assembled it with parts in the hardware store. It’s a screen door roller wheel and a small cable stop (with the ferrules) with the screw holding it together.

Josie on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

love this how-to. such a great idea! (my father actually did something like this himself!)

also, I ADORE that long dresser on the left in the second-to-last photo. SO CUTE

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Thanks Jenny, I’m really excited to see what you guys do with that new place of yours!

Jenny on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Love it Matt! Koa and I want to put one of these in for our closet door. It would be nice to not have it swing out into the room. Plus it looks cool. ;)

LuluRoo on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Looks great! I have been pondering the best way to make a sliding pantry door for 2 years now. I came across the McMaster-Carr low-profile track but was unsure how it would look until I saw your pics…amazing!!!! Thank you so much for posting these, and for the installation tips. Love your website.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Ha! Principal’s Office is awesome.

Kyle on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Looks great. My one question is: Was it intentional to use the knob/lock assembly upside down? It caught my eye cause its so atypical. Usually the lock is below the handle.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Noise is pretty low… the roller wheels are nylon, so that helps.

Adam on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Very cool indeed. I’m contemplating a similar project. How is the noise level when you open and close the door?

Dave Selden on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Also, it appears we have a friend in common – JD.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Whoa Dave, nice! I hadn’t seen it before, but I’m impressed. Dang, your lettering looks fantastic too – I gotta step up my game!

Dave Selden on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Okay, this is too weird. Did you by any chance see my Portland bedroom door?

I love the look of yours – we should have a shop tour exchange sometime!

Dan on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

Ugh so nice. I’ve been wanting to do a sliding door on a small half bathroom but can’t seem to find in expensive hardware. Even now the McMaster-Carr seems to be more expensive than $65. The results look great though!

Matt Pierce on November 14 2014 at 10:17AM

I didn’t switch things… that’s the way it was mounted on the door when I found it.

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