Saturday, February 13, 2016

Easiest and Cheapest DIY Barn Door Ever- Part 1: Planning

Before we even moved into our house, a little over a year ago. There were a few things I knew I HAD to have. Otherwise, what would be the point of having a house??

For example, the first thing I ever purchased for my house (before I even closed on it) was a HUGE hammered copper apron farm sink. I saw it at Home Depot and I HAD to have it. It was a great investment....but it's really testing my patience because its still in the fancy wooden crate it arrived it (which I was super impressed with, by the way), in the bottom floor of our townhouse with all the other things that haven't been unpacked yet because there is no place to put them yet. Yes, I know I've lived here for over a year, but don't judge me. Living through a full-on renovation of a complete home is nothing like moving and unpacking all your stuff. There is no reason to unpack anything until we have a place for things because otherwise we will just be moving things from room-to-room all the time. So, we live on Floor 2, we started renovations on Floor 3 (so nothing unpacked up there), and Floor 1 has a garage and bonus room full of things we have no place for yet.

Anyway, back on (barn door) track- another thing I knew I MUST have was a wooden sliding barn door. I had to have it so much that I planned a room around it. It might seem obvious, but you have to plan enough room for a door to be able to slide open. Since our house was built in 1991, everything was very compartmentalized - not like the open floor plans that are all the rage now. We are doing our best to open up the floorplan here (and I will have plenty of posts about how we are managing that in a 15-ft wide, 3 story building), but at some point you have to stick with what you've got.


The perfect place for this in our house was our master bedroom because: 1) it has vaulted ceilings- plenty of room to put a tall door and still have room for the sliding door hardware to go above it (and have even more room above it on the wall so it didn't look crammed in- the rest of the ceilings in our house are only 8' so the door would have to be smaller if we did it in another room); 2) There was enough wall space for the door to be able to slide open all the way to one side (when you're planning this, make sure there is enough room on the wall for the door to be able to slide all the way open without hitting any obstructions, and that there is enough length on the wall for the entire door to go over- keep air vents on the wall in mind!!). There is literally nowhere else in our house a door like this would fit, so it is important to plan well before you dive into this project.

Our door opening was around 43", and we decided to do a 55" door. How did I come up with 55" wide? I knew I wanted the door to cover the opening, but even more than that- we've had a lot of complicated projects lately and I wanted this one to be simple. So I found the 1"x6" planks of wood I wanted to use at Home Depot, and decided that 10 is a good, simple number. 5.5" wide x 10= 55," but you can make a sliding barn door any size you want. We just had to make sure there was more than 55" on the left side of the doorway (the direction I wanted the door to slide) so that the door could open all the way. We have about 30" extra to the left of the 55" that the door would open.
Another option if you have a more central door opening on a wall is to do two smaller barn doors that come together in the middle- in this case we could have done two 27.5" (5.5" x 5) that came together in the middle. I didn't have enough room on the right side of the doorway to do this (I originally planned it this way and it failed, if you couldn't already tell).

Sidenote: Another thing that might be obvious to some people, but maybe not to someone new to construction, DIY, projects (and specifically new to the use of one by whatever's) is that wood is not the actual size it says it is. 1" x 6" really means 0.75" x 5.5." I cannot explain this to you. I have just come to accept the fact that nothing is what it says it is when it comes to lumber and millwork, and I have memorized the crazy way this is done, plus I bring a measuring tape with me when I buy it to avoid mishaps and lots of tears in my chardonnay glass later. I'm sure Google can better explain this, but it won't ease my frustration so I'm not worrying about WHY??! anymore.


The first step I took in my barn door endeavor was to find the sliding door hardware. I searched for a long time. I was initially SHOCKED by the price of a set at normal stores. So, as I have learned to do, I typed "DIY sliding barn door hardware" into a search. This method works for anything that you need a solution to: typing "DIY" and whatever you need to tackle into Google together WILL give you what you are looking for. Probably many. In the words of Barnaked Ladies, "It's all been done before..." and someone has probably blogged about it.

There are many ways to make your own hardware. Some looked easier than others.....but by the time I added up the materials needed to make a set (and I wanted two sets, of course- because, as Mike would point out, I always have to do everything BIG and be difficult), I figured there had to be somewhere I could buy these things pre-made.

Enter my trusty, old friend, Ebay. The standard size for the hardware seemed to be 6ft, and of course they come in many other sizes. After an intensive search, I was able to buy 2-6.6 ft sets of hardware for $110 and free shipping- TOTAL!! There are a ton of Ebay listings for this hardware, but here is one to get your search started:

This is the set I purchased and the ends of the track are flat, so they are super easy to put together if you do need more than one set, or longer than 6 feet.

 So, once you have planned your door location and size, and found your hardware, you can move on to the fun part: Making the door. (I'm usually being sarcastic, but this time I actually mean it- it's fun! Especially compared to some of the pain-in-the-ass projects we have suffered through before)

See the next post: Easiest and Cheapest DIY Barn Door Ever- Part 2: Making the Door

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