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What I Wish I’d Known about Double Barn Doors

Today I’m taking a break from my Flip House posts, because I’m just so excited to share this with you that I couldn’t wait. We got barn doors!

Now, I know I’m not the first girl ever to put barn doors in her house, but this is something I’ve been wanting to do for years, and when we moved into this house, I knew just where I’d put them.

Then it was just a matter of getting a few other priorities taken care of before we could get to this project. But it’s finally done, and they turned out even better than I imagined!

Before Barn Doors

Dated Accordion Doors between our Dining and Den

These accordion doors came straight out of the late seventies or early eighties. They served a good function of closing off the TV room, but they also felt a little(!) dated and made a horrible clacking sound whenever they opened or closed.

I have soon-to-be fond memories of my kids waking up early on Saturdays and sneaking into the TV room to watch cartoons. They thought they would close the doors to keep the sound of the TV from waking us, but inevitably we’d be startled awake by the sound of the doors clattering closed.

I could even tell which kid was up by how they closed the doors. My youngest would just throw them closed, like ripping off a bandaid. The oldest tried to be soft and quiet about it, but then instead of a big racket I’d hear clack… clack… clack… clack… CLACK. Not sure which was worse.

Dated brown accordion doors closed

So the accordion doors had to go. It was surprisingly easy to get rid of them, just a few screws and they were lying in a heap on my floor. Now to figure out what to do with them…

Hanging the new doors was a little tougher, but definitely doable. I’ve got a few suggestions for you, if you’re thinking of taking on such a project. But first, let’s admire the doors, shall we?

After Barn Doors

Open barn doors looking into den

Ooooh.

Detail of barn door's black iron header

Aaaah.

We chose a modern style door with frosted glass and traditional hardware. I wanted to be able to let light flow through both rooms, but still allow for some separation of the TV room, especially as the kids get older and will be having more movies nights and sleepovers. (I’ve got big plans for that room, but that’s for a later blog post.)

Also, the designer in me feels compelled to add this side note. We plan on adding 6″ white baseboards in this sunken dining/living area, which will help the doors feel like they’re not floating in space on the wall. Design challenge solved, someday.

How to Hang Double Barn Doors

Before and after photos of double barn doors

~ This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. ~

Finding the Right Fit

While we were looking for the perfect doors, we found plenty of double barn door sets, but they were out of our price range. Then we realized we could just buy two separate door kits and hang them together. It took one extra step, but wasn’t difficult at all, and didn’t require any additional hardware.

By expanding our search to single door sets, we were able to find the style we wanted at a price we could afford.

We got these doors from Home Depot, which included the doors and the track and hardware. If you like the idea but want different doors, try this hardware kit with a door slab of your choosing.

Keep in mind when you’re picking a barn door to cover an existing door frame, the door slab will probably need to be 84″ tall to cover the door and trim. Your door slab should also be at least an inch wider than the opening.

You can’t take an off-the-shelf 80″ door slab and convert it to a barn door unless you reduce your opening from its standard size or create a new opening from scratch.

Before Installing your Barn Doors

I recommend doing this installation in two separate parts, first to allow the door slabs to acclimate to their new surroundings before attaching them, and secondly to give yourself a little breathing room as you go through the project.

When we started this project, I thought, “How hard can it be? It’s just like hanging really heavy curtains!” Well, yes and no. The idea is the same, but it turns out to be a lot harder hanging really heavy objects! Thankfully my husband was the voice of reason (as usual) and made me take it slow.

So give yourself an evening to open your hardware package, make sure you have all the pieces, set the doors in the space to acclimate, and make the initial measurements and markings. This will make it a lot easier to hang the doors on the second day.

Barn door assembly parts laid out on table

I’m not going to take you step-by-step through the instructions, as yours may vary depending on the hardware and doors you buy. Instead I’ll give you the tips that we found helpful along the way, and everything I wished we knew before we started.

Barn Door Leveling Tips

Get a good laser level that can be hung on the wall while you’re working. It’s so important to get everything level in this project, that you don’t want to rely on a small level if you can avoid it, and you don’t want to move your level around while making measurements.

After measuring, according to your instructions, for the center height of header board (if you’re installing on drywall) or rail, mark that spot on the wall and attach your laser level there. Leave it in this spot for the duration of the header and rail installation.

A laser level helping to hand double barn doors

Work from the far side of the wall towards your laser level. If your level is attached at the left end of the wall, like mine, you’ll want to start by hanging the right side of the header and track. This just keeps your work from getting in the way of your level’s beam.

Hanging the bar for double barn doors, using a laser level

Barn Door Centering Tips

Center your barn door installation on the middle of your door opening, which will not necessarily be the middle of your wall. Measure and clearly mark the middle of your door opening so you can keep track of this as you install both headers and rails.

You do not need any additional hardware if your doors will meet in the middle of the opening. You can get a track joiner if you want your doors to slide from side to side, but this isn’t necessary for a centered installation like mine. The track joiner just allows the wheels to make it over the junction between rails smoothly.

Junction between double barn door hanging hardware

If you want the doors to stop in the middle, like mine, you’ll need to apply the door stops that should be included in your hardware kit. However, these door stops are meant to keep the doors from rolling off the ends of the rail, and we found that they’re not sized correctly to allow the doors to meet in the middle.

When we set both stops in place, there was a big gap between the doors, but we couldn’t use just one because the back end of it ran into the wheels on the other door. So my handy hubby simply used his Saws-All (reciprocating saw) to cut off the extra metal on the flat end of one of the stops.

Using a reciprocating saw to modify the stopper for the barn door hardware.

This allowed them to butt up together, for just the right amount of space between the hanging straps.

Barn door stoppers modified for hanging double barn doors

Now the doors close smoothly and stop with the tiniest gap between them, which is perfect to prevent slamming and pinched fingers.

Door stops allow the double barn doors to close in the middle of the door opening.

General Barn Door Installation Tips

Know your Space

Be sure you have room for barn doors. That sounds kind of obvious, but it bears mentioning. You’ll need at least 6″ above the door frame to hang the header and rail. And you’ll need at least twice the width of the door opening on each side of the door.

My door opening was a total of 65″, so I needed two sets of 80″ wide headers, which meant my track turned out to be almost 14 feet long!

White and frosted glass double barn doors in the dining room

Call in Reinforcements

This is a DIY project, but not for the faint of heart or limb. These doors are heavy, and the hardware can be a little tricky to maneuver around, especially if you have tight spaces in your house.

Get a buddy, sweet-talk your husband, or hire a handyman, but don’t attempt to install these bad boys by yourself. Even reading the instructions will go better if you put two brains together!

Get Organized

Gather your supplies first. You don’t want to be hanging out on top of a ladder with an iron rail half-attached to the wall and realize you need the 3/8″ drill bit from your workbench in the garage.

Mirror Image

Keep in mind that when you’re installing double barn doors, one set of hardware will be the mirror image of the other. This can get a little confusing when reading the installation instructions, so consider starting with the door on the same side as the one in your instruction diagrams first.

Then once you get the hang of it, it’ll be easier to do the necessary conversion in your head for the opposite side.

Header or No Header?

Do you need a header? That depends on your walls. If you’re attaching to drywall, you need a header board. This allows you to anchor into the studs first and then the rail attaches to the board.

If you’re installing on concrete block, your kit should come with concrete anchors and you can just attach the rail directly to the wall.

Personally, I like the look of the header board, which ties in to all my white trim. Also, if your door opening already has trim around it, using the header board will ensure that the door clears the trim when it’s sliding.

White barn door header matches the white trim throughout the room

Resources for Double Barn Door Installation

  • 2 sets of barn door hardware plus doors – measure the width of your door opening to be sure you order the correct size rail. Each rail needs to be at least twice the width of your door opening. You can get my exact doors and hardware here!
  • Laser level
  • Saws-All – this isn’t listed in the instructions, but we needed it for modifying the rail stops
  • Studfinder
  • Drill and drill bit set
  • Socket Wrench set
  • Cabinet Mounting Screws or Wood Screws for attaching the header board to the wall. These were the only screws not included in my hardware kit, and I chose to use this style with the wide black head to add to the farmhouse style of the hardware. You could also use regular wood screws and paint the heads to match your header color.
  • Centering ruler – I use this thing for all kinds of crafty projects, but this is my favorite use so far!
  • Measuring tape, pencil
  • Patient husband, not available on Amazon.

Also, I’ve had a few questions about where I got my farmhouse style dining room light, so I thought I’d include the link to it here. It coordinates perfectly with the barn door hardware!

What I wish I'd known before installing double barn doors.

Did I miss anything? I wish I’d had this post when I was researching how to do this project, so I’m hoping it helps you. I love questions and comments, so drop me a note below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

P.S. I had so many great questions about this post that I wrote a companion piece full of Frequently Asked Questions. Check it out for all the details!

Tips for Hanging Double Barn Doors

Tips for Hanging Double Barn Doors

Yield: One set of Double Barn Doors
Prep Time: 1 day
Active Time: 1 day
Total Time: 2 days
Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
Estimated Cost: $500-800

You can easily create double barn doors out of two sets of single barn door hardware. No need to buy fancy double sets! Here's a few things to keep in mind.

Materials

  • You can either buy two complete barn door sets (see below for the doors we used), or you can buy two sets of hardware and two door slabs.
  • I also recommend installing "soft close" kits on your hardware. Then you don't have to worry about anyone slamming the doors!

Instructions

  1. First, be sure you have enough room for barn doors! You'll need at least as much space on the outside of the door as on the inside, to allow room for the door to slide out of the way. For double barn doors, you'll install two full sets of hardware, centered in the middle of the door opening.
  2. Once you've bought the correct size door and hardware, open the package and make sure you have all the right pieces. Gather your tools so you're not climbing off your ladder to find a screwdriver in the garage.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the instructions. Keep in mind that one of the doors will be hung as a mirror image of the other, so keep this in mind while reading instructions.
  4. Take your time making measurements and markings!
  5. Your laser level is your best friend! The key to barn doors that operate well is getting them exactly level. Hang your laser level on the opposite end of the wall from where you'll be working, so your hands don't get in the way of the beam.
  6. Get a buddy to help you with the actual installation. There are some parts that seem to require more than two hands.
  7. You can modify a door stop (included) to cover the gap between rails, if you prefer a seamless look. Or you can get a track joiner if you want the doors to be able to slide to either side.
  8. Install the soft close mechanisms before hanging the door slabs. (This step may not be included in your hardware instructions if you bought them separately.)
  9. Use the included floor guides to keep your doors from banging against the wall or door frames!

Mark H jr.

Saturday 11th of September 2021

The reason the hardware stopping the doors from hitting in the middle are correct but where the rails that slide along the track are mounted isn't. They should be brought in closer to the line or right along the lines that run vertically up from the glass. Only reason i know is because i made this mistake not once, but twice.. also the last barn doors i installed had bolts that were too long to fit the thickness of the door so double check that as well. My 2 cents :)

Meredith

Monday 13th of September 2021

Thanks Mark, good to know!

Rose

Friday 16th of April 2021

What about weight of doors? I house sit for my friends a lot. They have been married forever. They moved last summer. Their barn door, I am not sure. It seems like the fixtures can’t hold the weight of doors. It’s a double door in to bathroom. Then they have a single one that gets stuck if closed all the way. I am thinking the stopper isn’t there or needs replaced. As for bathroom I can start to see board like they are adjust or moving. The rail on to is big but what if fixtures are not for weight limit? Any thoughts.

Meredith

Monday 19th of April 2021

I'm not sure what to do in that situation, Rose. I would probably suggest buying the doors and hardware as a set, to make sure they work well together.

Alicia Hursley

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

Thank you so much for sharing. I'm hoping that this leads to a much smaller fight with my wife while we try to hang our door. We have a great relationship, we just have different ways of going about renovations haha

Kelly

Tuesday 17th of November 2020

This is all extremely helpful! Thank you for sharing. Can you please elaborate on mirroring the doors? This is where I am struggling. Are the handle holes pre-drilled? If yes, how does this work for the 2nd door? Thanks!

Meredith

Thursday 19th of November 2020

Hi Kelly, the handle holes are not pre-drilled on this set. Which is good because you can decide where they go. When I talked about mirroring the doors, it would have been more correct to say "mirroring the hardware." I was referring to the arrangement of the header, bolts, and door stops. Especially the door stops since each will be on the outside edge of the door. The doors are basically the same, no matter which side you hang them on. And since you'll install the handles last, it will be easy to tell where those go, once the doors are hung. I hope that helps, and I'll go back and update the post with this info too. Thanks for your question!

Christine

Thursday 22nd of October 2020

Can you use a 80” door and go over the door frame vs above?

Meredith

Monday 26th of October 2020

You sure can! Just make sure you've measured everything carefully, and that your door trim is not thicker than the inch or so of clearance you'll need between the door and the wall.

ABOUT MEREDITH


Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook

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