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!
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.
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?
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
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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 bought our doors from Lowe’s but they’re not available there at the moment. For a similar look, 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. 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. Your door slab should also be at least an inch wider than the opening.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. This allowed them to butt up together, for just the right amount of space between the hanging straps. Now the doors close smoothly and stop with the tiniest gap between them, which is perfect to prevent slamming and pinched fingers.
General Barn Door Installation Tips
- 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 my track turned out to be almost 16 feet long!
- 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!
- 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.
- Keep in mind that when you’re installing double barn doors, one set 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.
- 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.
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.
- Laser level
- Saws-All – this isn’t listed in the instructions, but we needed it for modifying the rail stops
- 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!
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!