I am about to write up the step by step process on the build, so hopefully that will help somebody out. If you are able to follow my (or another's) steps, then this project won't be too bad. BUT! if you (like me) have to vary from those steps and create your own, then notch out a couple days because it seems that every small thing in this project is connected and one small adjustment leads to something else not working anymore.
Warning: This is going to be a long post because I am going to throw in as much detail as possible It isn't going to be very entertaining, but if you are in fact trying to build one of these, my goal is to make that build go easier. I'll also add in alternatives to tools and materials when I can.
....man, I'm almost at a lost at where to even start! : ) AH...ok here we go...
Just like a lot of other folks, as soon as I first saw a sliding barn door I immediately wanted one. The bad news is they cost around $700...the good news is I'm a dedicated DIYer. : )
Before getting started I looked around online to get an idea of what design I liked best, and the below photo was my favorite. The look of the door is completely customizable, so look around and see what you like best.
Note: When I measured my door on the left side it reads 83 1/8" tall. Then I take a measurement on the right and it reads 83 1/2. !! I can't believe that. I put a level on my floor and it's level...so it's my door frame thats off. So be sure to measure both sides before getting started. I went with the bigger number when making my door.
Below is a photo of the doorway that goes from my kitchen to my laundry room, and I love the idea of being able to shut off that room if I want to. I have two light switches and one outlet on this wall and they will be covered up when the door is open, but this wasn't a big deal to me or my husband so I went forward.
Keep in mind you can read other DIY posts if you want other options for making the door. I didn't want to mess with individual boards so I went this route:
1) I bought a 4x8 piece of 1/2" exterior house siding from Home Depot for around $35.
- 2 - 5/8"x 1 1/2" hex head bolts
- 4 - 1/2" X 2" hex head bolts
- 4 - 1/2" nuts
- 2 - 5/8" nuts
- 16 - 16 mm washers
- 2 - 5/8" fender washers
In some of the other DIY sliding doors, you will see they bend their flat bar to go over the top of the pulley and attached it on both sides. I'm not a fan of the look or the effort of bending the steel, so this is the direction I went.
If you don't have a drill press, you can drill the holes with a hand drill but either way, keep your bit lubricated or you will ruin it.
6) Being a visual person, I was now able to lay the thing on my door and figure out how long I wanted each piece. I decided that 9" looked great for the length bolted on the door but I needed to figure out how high off the door the pulley needed to be before making any cuts. Remember that the bottom of your pulley is what goes on your top rail, so you need to make sure you leave enough room for your rail to fit between the pulley and the top of your door. I personally went with 2" flat bar steel for my top rail and instead of taking any chances, I put the bar with the pulley on it where I liked it, then made sure that my 2" flat bar could comfortably fit through. After this dry fit, the total length of my bar comes to 14". That's 9" on the door, and 5" hanging off the top.
7) I used a sharpie to make my mark on the steel then went and clamped it in my vise and used a sawsall to cut it. There are several ways to cut steel including a cutoff wheel, or a bandsaw, or even a chop saw...but, if you don't have any of these tools you can also make your cuts using a hacksaw. You know the old time hand saws? Yep, with a little bit of patience they work just as well but you're the horsepower behind it. ; )
9) I repeated the same steps and made a second one for the other side.
10) Now that I had all the hardware figured out, I took it all apart and painted it using my Rustoleum spray paint. I started off with nickel, but then changed my mind to bronze. When spray painting hardware, try not to get paint on the threads. For the bolts: stick them in a piece of cardboard so only the heads get painted. For the nuts: grab a stick and feed them on.
13) Once the holes were drilled in the flat bar, I then drilled the holes in the door.
14) I used 2 1/2" bolts with a washer on both sides to hold it. So the order went: 1/2" bolt with a washer, then the door, then another washer, then a nut.
Note: Take your time with this last step and make sure the pair are the same height off the door. If they aren't then your door will be hanging crooked.
Now you should have a door with the hardware on it. Lets move on to the railing....
Making the Rail:
Making the railing turned into a whole day project because my wall space is 78 5/8" (6.5, almost 6.6 feet) and all major retailers that carry flat bar steel only carry 6 foot joints on the shelf. So I had to hunt down a local steel supplier and call in an order. Cool thing about this was I wasn't limited to the dimensions of what was on the shelf....so I requested 3/16" x 2" x 80". It ended up costing me $14 and I thought that was a steal....he he he. Ok ok no more cheesy puns, promise.
1) With the door done, I went ahead and moved it inside so that I could get an idea of how high my rail needed to be. I wanted the door to be (roughly) 1/2" off the ground when it was mounted, so I grabbed a couple small pieces of 1/2" scrap wood and laid it on the floor then set the door on top of it. Then I grabbed a pencil and made a mark on the wall where the top of the "v" on the bottom of the pulley lands. ...I hope that makes sense. ....what you're trying to do is mark where the top of the rail needs to be placed if you want your door off the ground a certain height. What you don't want to do is move the door in and then just immediately mark where the pulley lands or your door will drag on the floor when you mount it. 1/2" works perfect for me, but if you want more then just use a bigger spacer.
Note: Also, just because it could be a factor I would put a level on your floor and make sure your floors are level. If they are slightly uneven, then you can take that into account when you figure out how high off the floor you want to mount your rail.
2) While the door is in place, I also needed to figure out how far off the wall I needed to build out for the door to slide past the trim once it was mounted. You can't have your rail even with your door trim or your door will be colliding with it. Also now there are four bolts/nuts on the backside of the door (from the hardware assembly) that need to be taken into consideration. So I positioned the door where the bolt tails were resting on the trim, then just moved the door out until I liked the clearance. Then I measured the distance from the wall to the center of the pulley. This turned out to be 1 3/4". That means I need my rail to be mounted 1 3/4" away from the wall in order to give the door and it's hardware enough room to slide back and forth freely.
3) I moved the door aside and grabbed a giant level then found the mark I made in step 1 and drew a level line across the entire wall. I chose to do it this way because my door frame is unlevel so I could not use it as a measuring reference point.
So my thought process at this point was to mount the rail directly onto the wall, and use a 2" dowel rod or a big washer to keep the hardware from being sucked into the sheetrock. However, after talking it over with my husband he thought using a running board like some of the other DIY doors out there would provide a better solution, look nicer and also double as a spacer. So that's the direction I went.
4) I found a scrap 1x4 in my shop, and cut it down to 1 x 3 x 78 1/2". Even though it's a 1x3, it isn't really an inch thick. It's actually only about 3/4" thick, but that's ok because that means I only had to make 1" spacers to make up for the rest of the clearance I needed.
5) While I was cutting, I grabbed the flat bar and also cut it down to 78 1/2", using a sawsall again.
6) Wanting to make the spacers, I went to Home Depot and grabbed a 1 1/4 dowel rod for $7 and cut 6 1" pieces. Then took each one and stuck them in my vise and drilled a 3/8" hole through the center. I went with wooden spacers because cutting 6 pieces of tubing exactly the same length would have been pretty difficult with the tools I had to choose from.
8) I moved it back to the shop, found center, and drilled pilot holes then moved up to 3/8" holes. Then laid the flat bar on top and transfered the holes and drill 3/8" holes in it as well.
WilkerDon't: Reading other tutorials they specifically said "do not drill your holes in the center or they will interfere with your pulley when it rolls". Well I was using a wider material for my rail and I actually tested it out before drilling my holes and my bolt head did not interfere so I made my holes center. .... what I didn't take into consideration was my spacers, which my bolts go through and hold onto the backside of the rail, and which are larger than my bolt heads. So guess what?! Yep, they interfered with my pulley. Solution? Drill your holes slightly below center. My solution was to notch out my spacers slightly on the top side so the pulley had clearance. It was a simple fix but I was pretty mad at myself.
I used the following hardware to put together the rail:
- 6 - 3/8" x 4 1/2" lag bolts
- 6 - washers
- 6 - 1" spacers
10) Ready to hang everything in place, I went through with a pilot hole and drilled into my studs.
11) Then with the help of my husband, held the board and rail in place and started installing it from one side to the other. The order went: 3/8" lag bolt, washer, flat bar, spacer, running board, wall. : )
Now hang your door on and make sure everything works!
I rejoiced because everything was just perfect on mine....then the A/C kicked on. The door was closed and I was admiring it then Cody moves to open the door and there is some resistance! It turns out that the A/C intake in the laundry room creates such a big pull that it sucks the door slightly and makes the bolt tails from the top hardware rest into the trim. ....?! You're kidding me right?? At this point I couldn't help but laugh, because out of all the things to create a problem, I found it almost comical. And I have found that part of building stuff is running into problems. Just prepare yourself to handle it instead of giving up because it's worth it in the end.
My solution to this problem was to just cut off the tails. Oh PS: if you're talking to a pro, don't use the term bolt tails or they might think you are crazy. The real term is bolt ends.
1) I moved the door back into the shop and used a cut off wheel to chop off the bolt until it was flush with the nut.
2) While the door was back in the shop, I also put a neat handle on it. I didn't like any of the cabinet hardware at the store, but found this in the garage door handle section. It's 7 1/2" long, but since the door is so massive, I think it really fits.
4) Once the door was back in it's place, I grabbed a 1/2" right angle bracket, and a piece of rubber I had in the shop to make a door stop. The last thing I want is for the door to roll off the end of the track. I moved the door to the position that I wanted it to stop, then held my bracket in place while I marked the hole. Then I grabbed the drill and lube and made a hole in the steel.
WilkerDon't: If you can believe it...I forgot about those stupid spacers again. I was able to put my hole through just fine, but there wasn't enough room for the nut go on. So I moved the bracket over slightly and drilled another hole. Thankfully, the old hole was covered up by the bracket, but learn from my mistake(s) and keep those spacers in mind.
5) Once the bracket was on, I super glued the rubber into place and now have a functioning door stop.
- 1 - 4x8 sheet of 1/2" tongue and groove exterior house siding
- 1/2" oak plywood (had in shop)
- 1 - garage door handle
- 1 - 1/8"x11/2"x 36" flat bar steel
- 2 - 3 3/4" V belt idler pulley wheel
- 4 - 1/2" X 2" hex head bolts
- 4 - 1/2" nuts
- 16 - 16 mm washers
- 2 - 5/8"x 1 1/2" hex head bolt
- 2 - 5/8" nuts
- 2 - 5/8" fender washers
- 1 - 1x4 (had)
- 1 - 3/16"x 2" x 80" flat bar steel
- 1 - 1 1/4" wooden dowel rod
- 6 - 3/8"x 4 1/2" lag bolts
- 6 - 3/8" washers
- 1 - 1/2" right angle bracket (comes with hardware)
- 1 - small piece of rubber
- Super glue
The BabyRabies posts shows a photo of a bottom rail being installed so kiddos can't accidentally pull the door down on themselves. I thought about installing one myself, but after tugging and pulling and hitting my door from all directions I have determined that this thing is not coming down unless I want it to.
Total Time: 4 days
Total Cost: $111
It can be done! : )
A reader named Chase was able to make his own double sliding barn doors by using my instructions so I thought I would share his success and a few details of his build. Below are his before and after photos:
Instead of buying the pulley wheels at Northern Tool, he found his at Tractor Supply.
Also, his opening is 4' wide so he made the doors 3' each, so there is 1' hangover on each side.
Chase also mentioned that it took him 6 days and spent $407 after everything. He did not have the paint, wood for the trim, or a couple of the drill bits. Even though this is more than what I spent, he said he priced out the job and the hardware alone (not including the doors) was going to be $750. So that's still really great savings!
Here is are photos from a reader named Michael that followed the tutorial to build a double barn door:
If you have also built a door, I would love to see!