how to extreme

Designing, Building and Installing an Interior Barn Door

Construction How-To, Decorating, Doors, Windows & Doors December 15, 2011 Sonia



By Mark Clement


Do You Live in a Barn?


We’ve all seen them. You can probably picture one in your mind’s eye—if not your backyard. Or, on your TV: Norm has one on the New Yankee Workshop. A barn door is a door slab that slides left and right on wall-mounted hardware—stout rollers suspended from a steel bar—in front of the door opening.

However, barn doors aren’t just for barns.

We built and installed one as the finishing touch of a kitchen remodel and we love it. And, I can tell that it’s not the last place we’ll use this idea. The door makes the space private, helps to deaden noise coming into and going out of the kitchen, and works great with kids. From a design standpoint it adds color, texture and function to an otherwise empty doorway.

Before and After.

Before and After.

Plus, it’s a fun project. Fabricating a door on site/in the shop requires a little attention to detail and layout, but it’s a great excuse to use lots of tools. The hardware (hard-to-find stuff) came from The lumber for the door slab itself is actually flooring: Lumber Liquidators Eastern White Pine 1-by-10 T&G flooring to be exact.

Other parts include a site-made Z-brace, lag screws (which we painted), and a fruitwood stain we used to mimic assembly details of a door you’d find on an actual bar.

Here’s how we did it.



The first thing to figure out is how wide to make the slab. The existing opening was 32 inches. Four pieces of flooring butted together is 34-3/4 inches. That’s wide enough to cover a little casing on either side of the door, but thin enough to slide fully open.

To test that my calculations would work, I laid the rail on the floor in the door opening and positioned it left/right as it would hang on the wall. I opened my tape measure 31-3/4 inches (plus 3 inches for the body of the tape equals 34-3/4) and moved the tape along the rail. This showed me how the reveal at the end of the rail intersected with the door casing’s site lines, exactly where I needed to position the rail and door stop (an L-bracket bolted to the rail), and how my ideal door width of 34-3/4 inches all worked in unison without building or installing anything.

Next step is to lay out the rail backer. The rail backer is a piece of 1-by and its job is to project the rollers and door slab past the existing door casing. Having the rail 6 inches above the head jamb looked great, and projecting it 3 inches proud of the rail on each side worked nicely, too.

On the wall in the backer location, make a small mark showing the center-line of the backer on the right side. Measure up half the width of the backer (in this case, 3 inches) and make a second mark. This marks the top of the backer.

Finally, strike a level line from the top mark.

Rip the pieces to width. Cut off the tongue and groove for square edges on the end pieces.

Rip the pieces to width. Cut off the tongue and groove for square edges on the end pieces.


Tool SetUp

There’s really nothing that says “I did this” like making all the pieces to a project such as a door—something people touch and use everyday. Since it must both look good and work, I take a little extra care making it.

Success starts with the tool setup. Having the right tools, bits, blades and clamps before you start working is key. I mainly used:

•  Miter saw and cut table

•  Table saw

•  Router with cove and 3/8” dado bits

•  Jawhorses and squeeze clamps

•  Impact drivers

•  2 x 4s

•  Circular saw with straight edge

•  Random orbit sander

•  Socket set